Business Insider | July 21, 2015

Ex-Morgan Stanley programmer raises $24 million to make old apps new again

Businesses all over the world are turning to cloud computing to build better software that works at larger scales across more devices. It’s a great concept, even if it sometimes means building new software from scratch.

But there are lots of businesses out there — banks, insurance companies, and healthcare providers foremost among them — for whom making that shift is a little harder, thanks in large part to regulatory requirements and the sheer difficulty of throwing existing app-development investments out the window.

This is where Apprenda comes in: Founded in 2007, Apprenda provides software to help those more legacy-minded institutions take advantage of advanced cloud computing without having to rewrite all of their code. JP Morgan Chase, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen are all customers.

Today, Apprenda announces a $24 million round led by existing investor Safeguard Scientifics, bringing its total funding up to $56 million.

Apprenda co-founder and CEO Sinclair Schuller got his start as a developer for Morgan Stanley, building custom apps for the (apparently pretty regular) occasions where off-the-shelf software didn’t meet their exact needs.

sinclair schuller apprenda

Schuller’s team would take the business requirements and spend three to six months coding away, basically “reinventing the wheel” each time by redeveloping common pieces of the application for every assignment, Schuller says. 

And then, because of all of those aforementioned restrictions and requirements, there would be a span of as long as another six months just to get that app deployed, while his team coordinated with the Morgan Stanley information security team, the database team, and so on. 

For a company like Morgan Stanley, going to a public cloud like Amazon Web Services — where you can swipe a credit card and get access to basically unlimited supercomputing power — isn’t a real option.

At a company like that, there’s too much going on behind the scenes, and they’re not going to undo the investment (in cash and in manpower) a company like that has made in both building and running their apps.

“You can’t justify ditching a $15 million investment,” Schuller gives by way of example.

Apprenda tackles the problem from both sides. Install its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud offering in your company’s data center, and it lets you migrate an existing application without making any changes.

Under the hood, Apprenda automatically takes that software and makes it more cloud-friendly, meaning that it can run at a higher scale way more efficiently, in turn meaning a better usage of resources.

A major added benefit here is that Apprenda then provides the APIs, or programming hooks, developers need to build, say, a mobile application based on the original, old-school app.

The software looks and works the same for existing users, since it’s the same as it was. There’s no headaches from having to learn a new system.

“That abruptness is where the pain comes in,” says Schuller.

If and when the data center doesn’t have enough capacity for your needs, Apprenda has a partnership with Microsoft to easily shunt the application into its Microsoft Azure public cloud. It’s an early example of “hybrid cloud,” the integration between a private data center and the public cloud, which is a hot market that companies like Google and Red Hat are investing heavily in.

And speaking of Red Hat, the open source company is probably Apprenda’s biggest rival, save perhaps EMC spinoff company Pivotal Labs. Schuller says that his company’s focus on supporting existing applications and infrastructure sets it apart.

New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Ignition Partners also participated in this round.