Appian Analyst Update

Matt Calkins and Samir Gulati from Appian were on a short analyst call today to give us a summary of 2008 and a preview of 2009. They had some big changes this year: expanding their marketing efforts, launching their SaaS offering with customers like Starbucks and Manulife, and expanding geographically into Europe and Asia. Much of this is fuelled by the $10M in VC funding that they took on in 2008, the first external funding in their 10-year history; based on the timing of the funding, I’m guessing that they got a much better valuation than if it had happened a few months later.

Their sales numbers are counter-cyclical, with their Q4 in 2008 being their biggest closing quarter ever. Although they built their business on their US federal government business, they’ve broadened out to a number of commercial clients in financial services, manufacturing and other verticals. They’ve also seen some milestones with systems already in place, such as a total of 1B logins to the system that they have at the US Army. I think that they’re just getting starting with BPM there, so this is likely mostly on their portal platform; still, that’s a lot of logins.

Appian’s big push in 2008 was their SaaS platform, Appian Anywhere, which is forming an estimated 30% of their new business. Currently, it’s still only available to selected large customers in a dedicated and fault-tolerant hosting environment: in other words, not a multi-tenanted SaaS solution that you can just sign up for online at any time, but more like just having your BPM servers sitting in someone else’s location. They’ll be releasing a lower-end offering hosted on Amazon EC2 in early February, with 30-day free trials for small businesses, where each customer is hosted on their own instance. This is the same sort of configuration approach adopted by Intalio, as discussed in the comments on a post that I wrote for the BPM Think Tank; there are many who would say that this is not multi-tenancy, it’s virtualization, and it doesn’t provide the level of scalability (both up and down) that’s needed for true SaaS. The subscription cost for Appian Anywhere on EC2 will be $35/user/month.

Regardless of the platform – on-premise Appian Enterprise, the high-end hosted Appian Anywhere, or the EC2-hosted Appian Anywhere – it’s the same code base, so there shouldn’t be a problem moving from one to another as the need arises. This also means that they’re not trying to split their engineering team in three directions to serve three markets: it’s all the same code.

At the same time as the EC2 launch, Appian will be launching an application framework to allow for faster development and deployment of vertical applications, and an application marketplace to provide applications developed by Appian or partners on a subscription basis. Some initial applications will be free, with others coming in at around $10/user/month on top of the base subscription price.

Appian’s focus is on making BPM frictionless: allowing it to be purchased and deployed within an organization without all the usual hoopla that it takes for on-premise systems. I think that there could be some challenges ahead, however, with the lack of multi-tenancy causing additional administrative overhead and setting limits on how big (or small) you can get with your Appian Anywhere system and still have it be cost-effective all around.

2 thoughts on “Appian Analyst Update”

  1. We are certainly focused the SaaS model as a partner. We have some *pats company on back* nifty ideas for microprocesses which could be sold ala marketplace to very specific industries performing a very narrow function(s). These processes have real value today albeit you likely wouldn’t purchase a run-time/on-premise solution for any singleton.
    We are talking with Appian about what EXACTLY can A2 (appian anywhere) really do today, versus short-term, versus long-term, versus “Forget About It!” against some known requirements. Hopefully we will be able to maneuver the plumbing where we need too.

  2. There’s a myth that SaaS means that there’s no room for third-party service providers, but that’s just not true. Most large-scale SaaS providers have a channel through which they sell because customers want someone who is involved with other parts of their IT infrastructure, too; but more importantly, there’s a lot of vertical solutions that can be built by third parties on these platforms that make the SaaS offering much more useful to consumers.

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