I was at a party the other night mingling with friends when one of them said the benefit of Software as a Service (SaaS) is the low entry point. Another friend immediately replied he preferred on premise solutions because he liked the autonomy of owning the software.
I thought I was in an Old Miller Lite commercial with a Less Filling, More Taste argument about to erupt.
When you mention SaaS, Software as a Service, people often make assumptions about unrelated matters like licensing models, support, and functionality. SaaS is only a delivery model. It basically means you use software that runs on machines belonging to a service provider and that service provider handles some of the day to day operations of that software.
SaaS does not mean the only benefit is a very low entry price, although sometimes that may be the case. It also does not mean you’re not going to need Services to implement the software. You won’t have to install it, but you may still need to configure it to your needs. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t enter a long-term commitment with your supplier, or even that your licensing model is subscription-based.
On the other hand, on premise software doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on your own when it comes to managing the software. As an example, there are companies out there with some excellent delivery partners who will take care of it for you, including dealing with incidents, technical support, upgrades, and the like.
So, what are some of the real implications of SaaS?
For the software vendor, it eliminates numerous issues like:
■ having to produce installers to help the user easily install, upgrade or deploy the software
■ needing to do Quality Assurance on all possible combinations of hardware, operating systems, databases, etc.
■ Producing easy to use troubleshooting tools for the software, administrator training, installation documentation, etc.
Without being weighed down by the above, the vendor has more time to spend on developing real customer value, and ultimately can provide a better customer experience.
It also makes it much easier for the partner to collect statistics on product usage, making it possible to detect the popularity of a certain feature. It also allows the software vendor to see where users struggle with certain feature by how long it takes to navigate the feature or how often they invoke the help function.
In the end, SaaS is a delivery method with benefits. After listening to my two friends argue the finer points of SaaS and on premise, I headed to the bar in hopes of finding BaaS – Beer as a Service!
Remko Dobber is VP, Innovation at CA Technologies.