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Ex-Microsoft architect's startup focuses on SaaS integration

A former Microsoft architect has founded a startup called Azuqua aimed at tackling the problem of joining together and automating business processes from multiple SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications.

The proliferation of SaaS and the “API [application programming interface] economy,” provides a vast opportunity for a service that can easily pull together processes from multiple applications to serve various scenarios, CEO Nikhil Hasija said in an interview prior to Tuesday’s launch of the company’s platform.

There’s also a need for a tool that can make doing this extremely easy for an average user, he said. While there are a wide range of cloud integration options, such as Dell Boomi and Informatica Cloud, “it requires a computer science degree to do something with them,” Hasija claimed. “We’re solving this for the business user and making IT look good for being able to deliver this.”

But other cloud integration vendors, such as SnapLogic, also say they can make it easy for average users, and Azuqua has some catching up to do with respect to its product’s depth. For now, Azuqua is focused on connecting applications that involve sales, service and marketing, Hasija said.

Azuqua’s platform uses workflows the company calls Flõs. Users can stitch together processes from various applications with a drag-and-drop, menu-driven interface.

Each Flõ has a “triggering event,” such as when a customer fills out a form on a website or mentions a company or brand on Twitter, according to Azuqua.

The point is to automate the process of reacting to these common events. For example, in the case of the website form, a Flõ could be set up to automatically start a new record in Salesforce.com while sending an email to a salesperson.

Azuqua also provides a means to apply logical rules to each Flõ, such as to define what time of day it should run.

Users must give Azuqua’s platform permission to access their cloud services, such as Salesforce.com, Google Sheets, LinkedIn, Dynamics CRM and Twitter, which are among about 15 applications initially supported. Fifteen more are in testing now, according to Hasija.

There is also a “gallery” of pre-created Flõs, which will be built up over time.

Azuqua’s target market is business users working in midsized companies, which have “a need for speed and a proliferation of cloud services,” Hasija said.

The service is generally available now. A limited version is available at no charge, with paid versions starting at US$75 per month.

Process orchestration “is coming into the forefront” in the cloud integration market, said 451 Group research manager Carl Lehmann.

One challenge facing vendors is how to maintain and manage high-quality orchestrations across multiple independent services, something made more complicated by the fact that one or more services could go down, Lehmann said.

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