Microsoft Backs Mobile Startup SkyGiraffe

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Print this article Print

The software giant's venture capital unit funds its first company, a cloud-based mobile enterprise app specialist.

Microsoft has its sights on enterprise mobility with offerings like the Surface slate, Windows Phone 8 and the tablet-friendly Windows 8.1 operating system. Now, its funding arm is getting in on the act.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software company's startup incubator and venture capital division, Microsoft Ventures, announced on Oct. 15 its first funding recipient, SkyGiraffe. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

SkyGiraffe, with offices in Mountain View, Calif., and Herzliya, Israel, is a cloud-based software startup whose platform enables organizations to deploy custom, job-specific mobile apps that link to enterprise database systems in as little as 15 minutes. SkyGiraffe supports Oracle, MySQL, MongoDB and Microsoft SQL Server.

Founded in February 2012 by CEO Boaz Hecht and Itay Braun, the firm's vice president of research and development, SkyGiraffe had previously received funding from 500 startups and angel investors. The startup's connections to the IT behemoth were strengthened by its participation in the Microsoft BizSpark program and the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Israel.

In a blog post, Rahul Sood, general manager of Microsoft Ventures, explained, "SkyGiraffe provides a SaaS platform that helps businesses deploy enterprise-grade mobile applications on any device immediately and without the need for writing code." Sood, formerly of VoodooPC and HP, noted that "application services are a strategic priority for enterprise companies" as mobile devices invade the workplace.

"This investment will help them propel their business to the next level," predicted Sood.

SkyGiraffe-enabled apps can "read and write-back live data" according to the companies. And since the apps are built for both Apple iOS and Google's Android mobile operating system, "implementation and compatibility issues are non-existent."

"We provide the tools that make it exceptionally easy for businesses to perform at their best, anywhere and at any time," said Hecht in company remarks. He added that his company was "thrilled to work closely with the team at Microsoft Ventures to bring our services to customers around the world."

To alleviate security concerns, SkyGiraffe cloaks its apps with enterprise-grade protections. These include forced HTTPS encrypted connections; a permissions engine that provides granular management of read, write and admin operations; and Microsoft Active Directory and oAuth single sign-in support.

SkyGiraffe's technology may help alleviate some of the deployment and integration challenges that are keeping many organizations from effectively mobilizing their apps. A recent study conducted by enterprise app and security specialist Mobile Helix showed that 65 percent of CIOs blame deployment and adoption woes on development costs while 63 percent have security concerns.

Yet IT managers are facing demand for mobile business apps. Eighty-seven percent of CIOs reported that their employees want mobile access to enterprise apps and data. They also estimated that productivity would rise by 36 percent if they could deliver on those capabilities.

Sood believes SkyGiraffe can provide a bridge between enterprise applications and mobile devices. "SkyGiraffe has an extremely productive impact on how enterprises operate in the mobile world, while improving employee efficiency and lowering overall IT costs," he said in a statement.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.