April 26, 2007

More on Cast Iron Systems

I chatted again recently with Simon Peel of Cast Iron Systems, and this time I got a better understanding of Cast Iron’s simplicity claim. It refers largely to a drag-and-drop interface that furthermore provides default mappings between pairs of application suites. Simon bristled a bit when I referred to this as mapping “like to like,” because he’s proud that it’s a little smarter than that. Still, “like to like” seems to be what it typically amounts to — customers go to customers, customer addresses go to customer addresses, and so on.

Simon claimed that for similar mappings via Pervasive you’d actually have to write code. I wonder if anybody from Pervasive would care to comment on that? :)

My other interesting takeaway was pricing — most of their customers rent rather than buying. Many sign long-term commitments to get discounts and still choose to rent. The main reason seems to be that’s where they have the flexibility to make room in their budget. An important secondary reason seems to be that many of Cast Iron’s customers are using Cast Iron primarily to connect to SaaS, so they’re oriented to periodic payments anyway.

Comments

6 Responses to “More on Cast Iron Systems”

  1. David Inbar on April 27th, 2007 12:36 pm

    Simplicity
    The Cast Iron offering is not much different from our auto-match capability that has been in the product for 7+ years and provides default mappings. Their claim makes for good marketing hype, but in the real world of customized CRM’s and ERP’s users ALWAYS have to supplement these mechanisms with semantic reconciliation and, more importantly, business-process-specific logic. We provide a graphical process flow designer to help our users and, where needed, reduce this problem down to spreadsheet-like boolean syntax (hardly the Java-like code that most products force on users).

    Prices and real costs to the customer
    Yes, our SaaS customers also have the option of subscription vs perpetual licensing, and some of them prefer it. Adoption of this business model is growing, but we expect both purchasing modes to be around for a long time. The acid test for customers (and the challenge for Cast Iron) is the total cost of adopting and implementing SaaS or other integration solutions – our pricing starts at $300/month for SFDC plus 100+ adaptors and the Salesforce consulting group for corporate accounts (ie not Enterprise) uses us for tough SAP integrations. Cast Iron starts at $2,500/month for SFDC plus a single adaptor. Do your own arithmetic.

  2. Simon Peel on April 27th, 2007 9:55 pm

    Evolution
    While it’s easy to dismiss newer technologies as hype, a lot happens in the tech world in 7 years. Technology actually does move forward…

    One of the things we’ve all learned is that the complexity (which is inherent in integration) was being needlessly passed on to IT and not being absorbed by the technology products that were supposed to be solving the issues. This slowed down projects, made them labor intensive, and over-ran budgets. Some continued to sell those same tools. As a result, the price of these products has been driven down to match the value they provide, which is fortunate when you consider their associated IT headcount costs – which have to be paid for somehow.

    If we all keep our eyes on the product costs alone, we’re missing the real issue which of course is the overall cost of completing IT integration projects. A free Hummer looks like a great deal until you see that the guy who gave it to you owns all the gas stations.

    Probably the best thing to do is to check out what’s happened in the tech world recently and see the tremendous leaps that have happened – yes even in the integration space.

  3. LizardSlayer on June 14th, 2007 3:13 pm

    RE: “most of their customers rent rather than buying.”

    That’s because Cast Iron charges a 20%/yr maintenance fee on all purchases.
    Rent for three years – avoid $60K in fees on a $100K purchase.

  4. Integration with SAP « Carel’s Conversations - blog on July 10th, 2007 4:04 pm

    [...] his company is considering Cast Iron as a way to integrate their Salesforce.com system with SAP. Here is an interesting blog entry on Cast Iron and the following wikipedia entry lists more integration [...]

  5. Carel’s Conversations - blog » Integration with SAP on December 20th, 2007 10:33 pm

    [...] his company is considering Cast Iron as a way to integrate their Salesforce.com system with SAP. Here is an interesting blog entry on Cast Iron and the following wikipedia entry lists more integration [...]

  6. IBM puts Cast Iron Systems out of its misery | DBMS2 -- DataBase Management System Services on May 3rd, 2010 12:03 pm

    [...] Years later, Cast Iron Systems tried what seemed to be pretty much the same thing, only better implemented. Recently, however, Cast Iron has been pretty hard to get a hold of, and I also couldn’t find [...]

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