Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SaaS - The Evolution is Now

SaaS - The Evolution is Now - Where do you see SaaS in the future of your company?

A new twist or an old paradigm... Software as a Service(SaaS), once known as Application Service Providers or ASP's has revolutionized distributed computing. Salesforece.com, Amazon and Google are leading the way through Customer Relationship Management, Data Storage, Cloud Computing and Google Apps. As a prior CEO, CIO, VP of Global Services of three software/service companies and now as the managing director of the CIO at Bluewolf group, I have been able to watch SaaS evolve and pick up momentum in nearly every vertical market.

Companies are looking for business solutions that are easy to use and are cost conscious in assisting them with improving their bottom line. The power of Salesforce, as one example, is its ease of use, elegant user interface and reporting analytics "right out of the web", no longer out of the box. The true untapped power of Salesforce and genius thinking from Mark Benioff is the platform and the ability to build custom solutions in days that once took IT organizations months if not years to deploy to business users. Once there were entire applications running in independent silos with disparate data to connect between silos and many of these applications could never cross the data chasm to provide business leaders with the latest competitive analytics or business metrics to ensure profitability. Now as Salesforce.com launches yet another successful version of their software, Summer08, you begin to ponder how a company is able to build powerful functionality into a live ecosystem two or three times a year while traditional software companies are taking years to make the turn to the next upgrade.

Salesforce is not the only example of ingenuity, Google and Amazon are on a full-court press to deliver the latest webtop "formerly desktop" applications, data storage and cloud computing all from the web. Google docs is a great space for collaboration and as employees begin to use these tools for personal use, they have found how powerful they can be in the business world where the key to success and innovation is collaboration, not the font size or formatting required to publish a printed document. I wouldn't look at desktop applications as a comparison between Microsoft Office and Google docs as an example, Google Docs was created for the web, for collaboration and storage of documents on-line. The capability to work across functional business units in different locations around the world simultaneously is true collaboration, saving time and money. How many times do you send the same document to your peers to review and make updates while trying to complete the document for some given task? In an instance, google docs transforms the end users experience to create a collaboration for all members of a team in solving today's business challenges.

Amazon has created S3 and now with it's latest in platform computing, Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2), we can begin to actually go beyond conceptual models of cloud computing. For example, look at what Dreamfactory, www.dreamfactory.com, is doing with their platform and extending it not only to the Salesforce Platform, but now amazons platform. Powerful tools that can enable developers to build solutions quickly that can leverage bandwidth on demand as peak usage increases more computing power can come online in a matter of seconds to sustain peak loads. Many SaaS developers today are also leveraging S3 to enable storage capacity on the web to support media intense applications or provide on demand utility tasks like back up and recovery capability.

Lastly, as email changed our way of communicating around the world in the 90's, so has the evolution of chat and social networking. Social networking is reshaping the way that we communicate across our professional and personal lives. If you are a CIO or IT executive, do a quick search on facebook and find out how many people are using facebook to collaborate and share experiences with customers and co-workers. Perhaps you want to create an end user experience for your customers where they can share and collaborate around your technology or widget, create a private group or network for them in facebook(www.facebook.com) or Xeequa(www.Xeequa.com). If you are looking for ways to harness the power of social networks through sharing opportunities within your vendor network or partner network, take a look at Xeequa. Xeequa was designed for the partner network and the team at Xeequa has done a tremendous job in building a solid product to support business social networking. Many customers have asked me if SaaS is here to stay?

I express to each of them, “The evolution of SaaS is now” right before your very web fingers...