Full Nelson: SaaS Startup LongJump Reaches For The Clouds - InformationWeek

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2/19/2008
01:21 PM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Full Nelson: SaaS Startup LongJump Reaches For The Clouds

Stop me if you've heard this story before: software as a service, but not just a product, a platform, with APIs for companies to build on; fully customizable, mostly for SMBs, hovering around CRM. No, this is not another story about Salesforce.com, but a small startup called LongJump based in Sunnyvale, Calif., where the CEO -- Pankaj Malviya -- also is the founder and the CTO and probably shuts out the lights when all the employees go home for the night.

Stop me if you've heard this story before: software as a service, but not just a product, a platform, with APIs for companies to build on; fully customizable, mostly for SMBs, hovering around CRM. No, this is not another story about Salesforce.com, but a small startup called LongJump based in Sunnyvale, Calif., where the CEO -- Pankaj Malviya -- also is the founder and the CTO and probably shuts out the lights when all the employees go home for the night.When I visited Salesforce.com's AppExchange incubation offices in September, it was clear that we were seeing a profound shift from off-the-shelf software to a Web-based model. It's one thing to have a player or two, but quite another to be helping other companies strap up their boots. It also doesn't hurt to create a platform upon which to tie the laces. New companies are emerging out of this incubator almost weekly. Seeing the success, others want in the game.

LongJump formally launched in late 2007 in a field that is quickly becoming crowded. It offers 15 on-demand business applications, mostly in the arenas of sales force and marketing automation. But Malviya considers his company a builder of a platform, where applications can quickly snap in (if they are Web based) or get integrated using APIs. With Web data (such as subscriber data or lead generation data) you can make use of out-of-the-box constructs that don't require writing code at all. If you create data using LongJump, your other applications also can subscribe. You probably won't see LongJump renting out space on the cheap any time soon, but it's nice to see a company willing to bite at the heels of Salesforce.com.

As enthusiastic as Malviya is, this is still new ground and Software as a Service faces a great deal of skepticism, dwindling though it may be. There are concerns about integration with existing applications, the right-sizing of it for larger businesses with more complex needs and security. Malviya claims to scale for large companies and has a Fortune 20 (he wouldn't say who) among his early customer trials. He also says that his software is secure as anything on the Web (not much of a relief there), and uses HTTPS for communications. But generally most companies in this space have been audited and endure rigorous self-evaluation. LongJump claims to be no different.

Malviya clearly wants to make a big splash. LongJump makes claims of competing with Amazon's S3 Service. However, what LongJump really offers is what it calls DaaS, or database in a cloud. S3 is really an on-demand storage platform, whereas LongJump claims its service offers more relational, sophisticated data services. I'm not so sure the comparison is apt, but you can't blame a company for trying.

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