Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

June 15, 2009

Intuit’s Federated Apps Cloud Computing Partner Platform Will Provide Very Significant Benefits to ISVs

One of the key technology pain-point (for SMBs) relate to multiple disparate SaaS/on-premise based business and collaboration applications that do not talk to each other (requiring re-entry of the same data) and each with their own separate access, UI, billing and pricing schemas – making it very difficult for them to resolve problems when they occur as they cannot triage the source of the problem. These SMBs lack the IT resources to identify the source of problems in an environment of multiple SaaS applications or have the capabilities integrate multiple soiled SaaS applications (each with a different UI, access requirements and billing platforms) and infrastructure services.

Intuit has a deep understanding of the SMB market based on its proven track record as leading business applications vendor in the U.S. Based on this in-sight, Intuit has developed a much more expansive CONNECTED SERVICES strategy to address the above mentioned technology problem – by providing a platform to connect and distribute all the varied cloud-based SMB applications and also providing a cloud-based development platform for ISVs that want to develop on the Intuit QuickBase platform.

Why is this of value to the ISVs that want to service the 6 million plus SMB companies in the U.S.?

  • Aggregation of applications on a cloud-based online application store – the Intuit Workplace portal to be part of the Intuit Marketplace with single sign-on where existing Intuit customers and Intuit and other small business prospects can find, try and buy any of the cloud-based applications that are part of the Intuit Partner Platform (IPP) ecosystem.
  • The biggest attraction for ISVs to join the IPP is the large installed base of Intuit customers in both the SMB and mid-market segments – more than 4 million plus active customers (with 25 million employees); which can be referred to as Customer Cloud. Reaching potential customers was identified as the biggest challenge by both the IVS panel and the VC panel. Selling to this vast SMB population has been the biggest barrier for ISV (especially the ones with less than 50 employees). Existing VAR channels do not work for this segment, online marketing channels are also very expensive and do not provide an adequate level of exposure to these hard-to-reach small businesses – in most cases the SMBs are not even aware of the application solutions. Successful cases of viral marketing based on social networking are rare. The Intuit IPP provides a platform for these ISVs to ride on the coattails of Intuit (several ISVs that are developing on the Salesforce.com Force.com platform have experienced similar success, although that ecosystem is only limited to applications developed on that platform – the federated strategy of Intuit’s IPP has the potential of creating a significantly bigger ecosystem).
  • The flexibility to:
    • develop new (and existing web applications) cloud-based applications with any programming language, database, or cloud computing resource and then publish them to the Intuit Workplace.
    • host the cloud-based solution on Intuit Workplace cloud datacenter or an alternate cloud computing data center (Amazon-EC2, Salesforce.com – CloudForce.com, IBM-Blue Cloud, Rackspace, etc.) and at the same time be part of the Intuit IPP application ecosystem and marketplace and get all the benefits associated with it.
  • The Intuit Workplace will provide the Single billing and e-commerce platform for all the ISV applications in the Intuit marketplace. This is of huge value of these ISVs.

This federated application capability now available on the Intuit IPP. Every application on the IPP will work together, use a single username and password, and be accessible via browser. Some of the federated applications will also work with the Intuit family of products. To make all these applications work in harmony on the IPP – Intuit will run a security assessment and privacy policy review on these applications prior to publication on the IPP. The four integration points for the federated applications are:

  • Data: To integrate applications with Intuit Partner Platform data, developers must program against APIs provided by Intuit to enable data synchronization
  • Login: A Federated Identity Web API allows users to use their Intuit Workplace login credentials to access the federated applications within Intuit Workplace.
  • User management and permissions: Intuit provides developers with a Web API so that their application can handle processes such as inviting additional users to their application.
  • Navigation: Developers with existing SaaS applications may have to make minor User Interface adjustments, such as removing sign-in/sign-out links within their solutions. The Intuit Workplace provides this in its toolbar to provide users a seamless experience between applications.

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