Gaurav Dhillon Wants to Integrate Everything, Again

Published on December 13, 2010
by Arik Hesseldahl

Gaurav Dhillon has something to prove about integration. The co-founder of the $4 billion (market cap) software integration concern Informatica is now out to make the numerous cloud-based applications work together or alongside proprietary software that companies always seem to have.

His latest effort is SnapLogic, which last week landed a $10 million round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with Floodgate Ventures participating.

SnapLogic’s approach to making applications work together is simple. The company has created a common interchange format that gets two or more applications–say, for example, Salesforce.com and ExactTarget–to work together. In both cases, a company can buy “snaps” that get those applications running in the SnapLogic server. Snaps are SnapLogic-ready applications that are available in the company’s own SnapStore.

Before SnapLogic, you could certainly integrate these applications yourself, but not without a lot of heavy programming work. “It can be hard but not impossible,” Dhillon told me. “People often inadvertently paint themselves into a corner. They say, let’s connect these two, and then six months later they want to add NetSuite, and then later they buy another company that runs its own set of applications.”

Dhillon compares the SnapLogic server to a common shipping container. “The shipping industry uses the same container on ships, trains and trucks, and it makes transportation very efficient.” (Investor Ben Horowitz has called Dhillon “the Metaphor King.”) Using the SnapLogic approach allows different applications to fit together inside the same container and share information. So far there are 63 supported apps and some 2,000 supported combinations.

And if that’s not enough, there’s also has an API, so if you have custom applications for which a “snap” isn’t already built, you can roll your own. “Most companies are going to have some element of homegrown software,” he said.

Customers so far include Pandora, Canonical–the company behind Ubuntu Linux–and OSI Restaurant Partners, which owns Outback Steakhouse. ING, the Dutch financial services company, is also running a small installation, Dhillon said.

He thinks of integration as his life’s work, which was only partially started at Informatica. “I have a feeling like there’s this unfinished business I want to tend to.”

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