‘Cloud’ specialist Skytap seeks recruits to come aboard

Seattle’s Skytap is riding ramped-up demand for cloud computing services to drive growth and hiring at the 4-year-old company

Skytap Inc. provides a way for customers to save money by tapping into the company’s services to develop and test software and hardware in virtual labs accessed through the internet, a process that’s known as “cloud computing.”

Skytap has about 30 employees. CEO Scott Roza said the company has hired about a half-dozen workers this year and has openings for about a half-dozen more.

In the next year, Skytap could add as many as 10 workers, Roza said. Skytap is looking for software engineers, operations and systems engineers and a salesperson.

The state’s unemployment rate remains frozen at 9.1 percent, and the economy struggles to recover from the long economic downturn. But some pockets of the economy — such as technology companies — have seen steady growth and are hiring people.

Giant companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. have been hiring in the Seattle area, along with nimble firms such as ExtraHop Networks, Tableau Software and Cypress Communications.

Much of the growth has been centered on developing new ways for businesses and consumers to tap into the internet, from off-site cloud services to smart phone applications to network management to troubleshooting tools.

Data-storage giant EMC Corp. recently bought another Seattle tech company that has been hiring: Isilon Systems Inc. EMC paid $2.25 billion for Isilon, which offers clients such as entertainment companies the ability to store large amounts of data.

The cloud computing market is expected to grow rapidly as more companies tap into web-based applications to store data and run computers.

Tech giants including Microsoft and Amazon offer cloud computing services. Google recently announced it would offer a “cloud” plug-in for Microsoft Office.

According to Renub Research, a market research firm based in India, cloud computing will be a $25 billion market in the U.S. in two years. Cloud computing is expected to be increasingly in demand among small companies seeking to save money by outsourcing computer applications to web providers.

While only 2 percent of small businesses were using cloud computing in 2009, according to a report from Forrester Research, a Massachusetts-based tech and market research firm, nearly 40 percent said they were interested in knowing more about cloud computing.

Skytap has doubled its customer base this year to about 100, including companies such as real estate services firm Ellie Mae Inc., voice technology firm Nuance Communications and cross-platform email migration firm Binary Tree. Skytap’s website also lists large customers such as Oracle and Hewlett-Packard.

The company is working off $7 million it raised in 2009 in second-round funding from previous investors Ignition Partners, of Bellevue, and Madrona Venture Group, of Seattle.

Roza said the company could be profitable if it chose to be, but is focused on growth as it seeks to increase its market share.

To attract new workers, Roza said, Skytap has been offering bonuses in the “sub-$10,000” range to workers who help recruit new talent.

Bonuses are one of the tactics that IT companies have used in Seattle to help with their hiring, especially in attracting software engineers who are in hot demand.