Monday, March 5, 2007

Software as a Service Debate

A recent article was published in Information Week that discusses differing opinions on the best way to deliver SaaS (Software As A Service) applications. The article discusses how some SaaS companies are adopting a more hybrid solution, requiring their customers to download a small client-side application.

Having managed both traditional software and SaaS projects, I find a hybrid solution to be somewhat of a temporary fix. Most clients today either like or dislike the SaaS model. For those who dislike SaaS, the most common issues revolve around security and visibility.

The hybrid solution may solve some user issues, but the SaaS model is still in its infancy. Over time, more people will adopt this model, especially as powerhouses like Google and Microsoft begin to roll out new services.

What do you think?


Chuck Brewbaker said...

I beg to differ, the SaaS delivery model is far from infancy, perhaps pre-teen at the earliest. The security advancements and merritts of SaaS software have proven themselves.

SaaS offers an advantage that traditional software models cannot, dynamic software. No matter how hard we try, software is not meant to be a static environment. A shops tools, an organizations applications, etc should grow with them over time as the company grows and technology advances. Otherwise we end up with the IT museums that are the fortune 100

The last thing technology, especially software, should be is a handcuff.

Joe Ponczak said...

Good point, although I am not sure I want SaaS as a pre-teen - they can be tough to deal with :)

Your point on dynamic vs static software is a good one, especially given the complexity of software today. The daylight savings time problem over the weekend is a perfect example. It was easier for SaaS companies to update their software than their reside-on-your-desktop cohorts. Most importantly, the SaaS impact was minimal for their users.

But, as with any progression, we cannot possibly forsee the issues around the SaaS model until more and more companies adopt that approach. Companies like Google and Salesforce are 99% SaaS, so it will be interesting if they look to a hybrid model going forward.

daniel said...

Let me state up front that I may be a bit biased.
I own a small LLC that's product line is comprised of several modules delivered via the SaaS model on a subscription basis.
SaaS itself has been my email platform of choice since 1997, when I opened my personal yahoo email account, which I pay $20 a year for.
This SaaS offering has been reliable, scalable, client architecture independent and I have never had to pay an extra fee to 'upgrade' to the current version.
Another SaaS product that I use in a production setting is Amazon's S3 service. Again the combination of reliability, scalability and price brought me to this solution.
I believe that in situations where the reliability does not suffer , or is even improved, by an economy of scale SaaS has a lot to offer.