Friday, February 29, 2008

SaaS Presentation Layers exist out of the browser

In a recent blog post, SaaS Blogger Phil Wainewright made some excellent points on what defines a SaaS client.

Some purists may disagree, but my definition of a SaaS client goes outside of the browser to include a client that runs on the desktop machine so long as it’s still controlled and managed from the Web.

Phil's definition, reinforces the views I have repeatedly expressed in this blog.
Webifying Desktop
Software+Services or SaaS, the key word is Service not Software.

Phil discusses the real world examples of this happening, including RightNow who have showcased their new On Demand Release which utilizes Microsoft .NET Framework capabilities.

This is still true Software as a Service, because all the benefits of the Multi-tenant single code base exist in these flavors of SaaS client.

There are viable alternatives to pure browser based solutions, which up the ante in UI presentation and brings parity between traditional Client/Server (On premise) UI and SaaS UI.

What's next then? as per my previous posts I predict sometime in the future, Desktop and Browser will merge again. When a user boots up her computer, or utilizes their smart phone, it will be one and the same. SaaS will ensure accessibility to data in the cloud from all devices and not just via browsers. Cloud services will enable advanced deployment capabilities for SaaS client apps which will access services and data provided by a myriad of SaaS vendors.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Software+Services or SaaS, the key word is Service not Software.

Having read with interest Ben's previous post on Microsoft's Software + Services strategy, I feel like adding my 2 cents worth from a slightly different angle.

The keyword here is Service, which leads to me to think that Microsoft Office and competing disruptive products are not the best examples of SaaS. A critical strength of SaaS and where it will significantly disrupt (and already has in CRM and Project Management) is in the outsourcing of tools with a significant server side component with complex business logic, tools such as CRM, ERP and Accounting, Project Management, Business Intelligence/Performance Management, Talent Management,Sales Support, all requiring server side processing power and scalability.

The advantages of SaaS (excluding cost of ownership and pricing arguments of subscription over perpetual licensing) include eliminating needing to fund server infrastructure and support resources for maintaining your own data center, and multi-tenancy which ensures you always have up to date features without complex upgrades.

Whether your SaaS vendor chooses to provide a client side User Interface which is browser based using AJAX, Silverlight, Adobe or via a Microsoft Clickonce style (A Software+Services option) deployment is secondary to ensuring they provide a service which effectively and economically solves business problems (the Service component). The client side user experience is a key factor for user adoption but all the options above can provide that. The general user probably doesn't even care which one is used.

Microsoft certainly has its problems in the Web/Internet space and they are still playing catchup with SaaS but I don't think delivering SaaS is going to be a long term problem for them.