Intalio Cloud – BPM, CRM and appliances

May 19, 2009

in BPM, Product News

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Intalio hosted a launch today to position themselves as The Enterprise Cloud Company. Intalio turns 10 years old this year. They remain a privately held company with 500 paying customers and have passed 50,000 deployed sites in 52 countries. 35 employees and 20 contractors across 14 offices worldwide. Customers cover all industries and business is split evenly between the US, Europe and Asia. Doubled revenue year over year and see a potential for tripling it this year.

In part because Ismael, the CEO, loves Sashimi Intalio has a large business in Japan. ThisJapanese business drove Intalio to offer their product as a service – in the cloud. Intalio seems this move to the cloud continuing not least because of the dynamic provisioning model of the cloud – can easily add new capacity. In addition you have elastic scalability – can scale up or down without delay and without worrying about the infrastructure. Several applications based in the cloud have 40,000, 50,000 or even 100,000 users. However, the customers Intalio has in Japan (and others) want the cloud computing model but they don’t want to use the public cloud. This is not that easy so Intalio, like IBM and others, has built an Intalio applicance.

Working with HP they targeted very high end hardware – each of up to 16 compute blade has 8 cores and 144GB and can support 2,000 users while each of 16 database blade has 6 250GB solid state drives. File storage (up to 4) supports 140TB and is used for things like files. The system then supports 2,000 accounts with 27 users per account (62,000 users), 1GB memory for an account, 25GB of database. Impressive.

Besides the hardware, Intalio has provided software on these appliances. There are a number of critical challenges, particularly around multi-tenant support on each box. To make this work Intalio has provided two approaches. First there is a Small Account configuration. A Virtual Machine suports a virtual firewall, a load balancer, an application server and a database server. This uses about 1 GB so a blade can support about 144 of them. Replication is used to keep a second copy on another blade in another enclosure on the rack, or on another rack even a remote one. Database size eventually becomes a problem in these accounts. This can be managed with slave database servers and other techniques but eventually it exceeds the capacity of a blade and a new approach is needed. The Large Account Configuration involves 16 servers connected with an InfiniBand Network – a very fast network 100x Gigabit Ethernet. This uses ScaleMP vSMP so that CPUs in one blade can access memory of another blade without worrying it is on another blade. This makes the whole thing seem like a massive SMP machine and so the whole set up is run as a single instance. They use Linux and Postgre SQL on top of this. Now have a 32 CPUs with 128 cores, 2.3TB of memory and 48TB of solid state database storage running as what is to all intents a single server.

Intalio has been working on uses for this new platform. They recently acquired ProcessSquare who had built a business user friendly tool for defining business processes and automate them using the web. This was built on the Intalio engine and now is part of Intalio and known as the Business Edition of Intalio BPM. This is a nice web-based, friendly looking process definition tool. Looks like those from Lombardi/IBM/Software AG. The Intalio product allows you to run these processes. In the demo he showed kicking off a new process instance and allocating people to it. This creates the instance and now people have assigned tasks that can be worked online or through outlook etc. The overall process map shows the status and the process owner can work their way through it, assigning/completing tasks etc. The tool supports multiple languages (English, Japanese and German initially). This product is free for 2 users and then $25/user/month. All built on the Intalio process engine and so integrated with the enterprise edition. This is an interesting announcement for two reasons. You can design and execute the processes on the hosted system (not just design them) and it shares the same execution engine as the rest of the product line

They also announced today an acquisition of a CRM company – CodeGlide based on Argentina. Intalio argues that this is a feature competitive product with salesforce.com. In addition the company has a marketing automation product (aimed at Eloqua) and a support desk. This is the heart of their new Intalio CRM product. The CRM application is likewise integrated with their business process engine.  For instance, within the CRM environment, the user can instantiate a new process instance and interact with it directly from within the CRM environment. Tasks that are part of these processes are integrated with the tasks in the main CRM application. Such processes can be defined using a simple spreadsheet metaphor. The CRM product is very web 2.0 like – nice new interface – using AJAX and dynamic accordian lists etc.  The product handles sales, marketing, support (contracts, knowledgebase, bugs, cases) etc. and has additional stuff like a calendar, inbox, mashup server, custom objects etc. Nice looking CRM product.

They compare this product to salesforce.com in a couple of ways. First they offer it on-demand as well as on premise. On-Demand begins at $9 to $99/user/month, On-Premise is $19-49/user/month for 20 or more users, and Managed On Premise which uses the new appliances at $49-$99/user/month for a 2,000 user minimum. Interesting – pay the on-demand monthly rate but get the appliances in your data center. Second they offer more programming languages not just an XML based one like force.com – it looks like this will include their business rules support which is cool. Third their database scalability is better so they don’t have the problems salesforce.com have around attachment sizes, single table reports, 2,000 custom objects and other execution limits while they offer more storage as part of the base package.

Taken as a whole Intalio has a cloud based infrastructure or IaaS, a platform or PaaS offering based around their existing platform and then SaaS offerings for BPM, CRM and soon Governance Risk and Complliance (GRC) soon. All this is available on demand, on appliances in a company’s (or government’s) data center or on a company’s own hardware. SIs can also use this platform to build custom applications also to create a real ecosystem. In contrast with on-demand only offerings, this approach allows new applications to be built on the platform not just integrated with it.

Of course I asked about business rules and Ismael brought up a more detailed picture of the platform. Within the platform there are a cluster of engines – data object engine (custom objects in CRM), process engine (Intalio’s core engine), CMS, ESB, Portal and UI engines and a business rules engine. The business rules engine is Drools-based and is being upgraded to the new release announced today. Also working on a simpler, more friendly interface for this and making it so the rules can be used in both the CRM and BPM environments. Very nice – looking forward to seeing how the CRM configuration and extension environment supports business rules.

An impressive set of announcements and one I think moves Intalio to a new level. It will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

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