Catalyst Top 10: Software-as-a-Service

Posted by Brett Young | Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | , | 0 comments »

I’m finally getting around to publishing my notes from Burton Group’s Catalyst '09 conference. I had intended to live blog each session. However, for various reasons, some technical and some logistical, that just didn’t work out. Now as I comb through pages of notes I struggle with how to best publish them. I’ve decided to publish a series of brief Top 10 lists that boil down my learnings on specific topics. This is the first list and it focuses on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS):

  1. Enterprise IT and the vendors are both too immature to leverage SaaS today.

  2. Be strategic when planning an SaaS pilot. Focus on the “underserved” users, since SaaS functionality will be perceived as limited compared to current enterprise solutions. Email for call center employees is perceived by many companies as low risk and a good opportunity for early SaaS.

  3. To prepare for SaaS, companies should be working toward making their internal services more modular, so that pieces can be easily moved to the cloud in the future. We need to really understand application interdependencies. A mature Configuration Management Databases (CMDB) will improve the likelihood of succeeding with SaaS.

  4. Don’t think that issues that have challenged enterprises for decades (such as performance, availability, maintenance, capacity, etc.) just magically go away for the SaaS vendor. They have these same challenges. However, they’re success depends upon their ability to hide challenges from you, the customer. Just because the vendor isn’t talking about them doesn’t mean they’re not experiencing them. If you’re not careful you’ll just end up with the same mess you have today, just in someone else’s data center.

  5. Instead of SLAs, some cloud vendors are instead opting for full discloser of availability and performance. Customers can then decide whether they can accept the risk. They can always fire the provider if requirements are not met.

  6. Records management functions are not very good in current SaaS solutions.

  7. SaaS has shown enterprises that there are much easier licensing models. However, venders still need to figure out how to make it easy for companies to buy on premise and hosted services with a single pricing model, and with flexibility to move users between on premise and hosted without breaking the pricing model and requiring new contract negotiations.

  8. We are conditioned to do large releases that require user training. However, with SaaS expect to see releases of one or two features at a time, but on a much more frequent basis. At this rate of change, training is not necessary.

  9. Businesses are still concerned about what is out of their control with SaaS. For example, there is really no case law on SaaS, making it impossible to access risk. No one wants to be the test case. Let someone else be the first.

  10. Google is building a connector to Outlook, so companies can continue to use Outlook on the desktop, with Google in the cloud.
What do you think? Do you disagree with any of these assertions? How is your company approaching Software-as-a-Service?

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