Celequest’s SaaS Trump Card
Dashboard pioneer announces Software-as-a-Service BI appliance offering
Business intelligence (BI) start-up Celequest Corp. burst onto the scene a scant three years ago, billing itself as a dashboard innovator—with the technology pedigree to prove it—in a then-simmering business activity monitoring (BAM) market segment. Celequest has since branched out, launching Lava, a BI dashboard appliance. It has also firmed up agreements with major technology providers—such as NEC Solutions Inc.—to develop a combined hardware, software, and services solutions for regulatory compliance.
Last week, Celequest branched out yet again, announcing a new software-as-a-service offering called LAVA On Demand. In addition, the dashboard-cum-appliance specialist introduced another SaaS product, dubbed LAVA for App Exchange, which runs in Salesforce.com's AppExchange SaaS environment.
Analysts say LAVA On Demand might help Celequest crack the heretofore uncrackable SMB segment, the economics of which have been stubbornly resistant to its scalable appliance pitch.
“In rolling out Software-as-a-Service… options for delivery of its BI appliance-based services, [Celequest] can address new enterprise accounts, ranging from small to midsized businesses … up to large organizations, and also to continue positioning itself as the pioneer, first mover, and pacesetter in the emerging BI appliance segment,” writes James Kobielus, a principal analyst for data management with consultancy Current Analysis.
Kobielus points to a number of positives in Celequest’s LAVA On Demand pitch. For one starters, he says, it essentially recapitulates the capabilities of the LAVA BI appliance, but—in this case—in the form of a wallet-friendly SaaS deliverable. In addition, Celequest has launched two versions of LAVA On Demand—viz., LAVA Managed Service (immediately available) and LAVA Hosted Service (currently available only to Salesforce.com customers)—which implement different SaaS models, target different sets of enterprise requirements, and can scale to support thousands of end users.
Elsewhere, Celequest’s new LAVA for AppExchange offering—which is really just the LAVA Hosted Service packaged for Salesforce.com, Kobielus points out—incorporates the LAVA appliance and presents Salesforce.com CRM data in BI dashboards. It’s an important deliverable that could help generate significant new revenue for Celequest, he concludes.
“The offering integrates with Salesforce.com’s CRM service and other AppExchange services through the AppExchange API and Web services interfaces,” Kobielus comments, noting that LAVA for AppExchange is available right now, and even comes in the form of a free 30-day trial version that includes two pre-configured sales operations dashboards and a library of more than two dozen sales metrics that boast canned connectivity into Salesforce.com.
So much for the enterprise. In the final analysis, SMB customers (or mid-sized enterprises) could perhaps be the biggest beneficiaries of Celequest’s SaaS play. “Celequest prices and packages the managed version of LAVA On Demand on a tiered basis, effectively addressing the price-performance and scalability requirements of small, midsized, and large business customers, respectively,” he notes. “In addition, Celequest has enlisted an important channel partner, Salesforce.com, to help position LAVA On Demand in the growing SaaS market.”
From a purely competitive perspective, Kobielus continues, Celequest has staked out an enviable claim for itself as a BI SaaS pioneer. This could help insulate it from disruption as the BI marketplace continues to coalesce around a few major players and a still-gestating ecosystem of open source BI initiatives. “Celequest’s appliance-based solutions… have functional differentiators that distinguish them from purely commodity-like open-source BI offerings and also from rival OLAP [or] aggregation appliances,” he concludes.
Since it launched its first LAVA appliance eight months ago, Celequest has put on an aggressive front, touting what it claims are the device’s potent scalability (up to 2,500 users on a single appliance) and compelling value. On the value front, especially, Celequest has put its money where its mouth is, promising customers a rapid time to deployment and full satisfaction—or their money back.
“We’re actually willing to guarantee that we can get it up and running for a fixed cost of $125,000, and if we don’t, you don’t owe us a thing,” Celequest CEO (and Informatica Corp. co-founder) Diaz Nesamoney told BI This Week. “And this is something unique in the BI industry, where customers [often] have to sign up to a completely unknown cost that can take forever to implement…. So there’s a lot of fear for customers in taking the risk of going down an unknown path.”
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.