TWIS#19- This Week in SaaS- I’m Hired Edition!
TWIS#19- This Week In SaaS
In this week’s TWIS:
- VC Evangelos Simoudis on what CIO’s think strategically of SaaS- Good News!
- Hired- I’ve got a new job! Read All About It (I’m stilll going to be here for you)
- Ben Kepes on Cloud Layers- Is now the time to think again about Cloud terminology?
- William Vambenepe’s presentation to Cloud Connect- what parts of SaaS should be part of Cloud?
- State of the Mobile Nation- February Smartphone update.
- News on Pearl, Recurly, Erply, Helpstream, Timetric.
A great week in SaaS!
Vastly under-read, is VC Evangelos Simoudis- who’s meeting week in week out with the best and brightest and who’s commentary I really like:
The future for SaaS applications is getting brighter. Discussions I had with the CIOs and business unit executives of the companies I recently visited support that the majority of applications used today by mid- and large-size companies can be delivered via the cloud.
They use the following rationale to arrive to this conclusion: Of the applications used in a corporation, 15% are either company-specific, reflecting proprietary business processes, or need to adhere to particular regulatory requirements. As a result, these must be on-premise applications.
The remaining 85% of business processes can be automated using off-the-shelf, packaged applications.
Of these packaged applications, 80% can be delivered through SaaS, i.e., they are based on single instance multi-tenant architectures, or, at the very least, they can be cloud-based applications delivered over private, public or hybrid clouds.
The type of cloud used depends on the customer’s customization and on-boarding requirements. The remaining 20% must be delivered using off-the-shelf on-premise applications. Getting this message across will require IT vendors to continue educating the market and offering their SaaS applications in pieces that are easily “consumable” by corporate users.
Issues such as security, and application and data integration, about which I wrote in the past, will still need to be addressed before cloud computing in general and SaaS applications in particular can be broadly adopted.
I didn’t even have to emphasise that one!
For those of you that subscribe via email or to my feed, you’ll know I’ve joined Mimecast as Director of Communities and Content. Rest assured, I’m going to keep blogging, and it’s going to get even better now I’ve not got any pesky consulting gigs to do! 😉
I’ve been running a bunch of CloudCamps around the place – and a common issue I’ve come up against is being part of sessions where half the crowd are talking high stack level stuff, while the other half is talking infrastructure. It’s easy to see how this occurs – the term “Cloud Computing” covers a huge variety of things – from customer applications, down to the millions of Amazon servers spinning away – along with everything in-between. It’s not surprising there’s sometimes a disconnect between people involved in the cloud.
In the early days of the cloud (hey – a whole few years ago) we needed a term we could hang our hats on – something that was all encompassing and, to a certain extent, something that let us find some commonality in the fight for legitimacy against the legacy vendors and their well articulated, and well funded FUD.
But we’re in a different world now – everyone does cloud, from the most traditional vendor to the smallest startup. Cloud is, to a greater or lesser extent, the default and because of that the term becomes problematic.
I think Ben is spot on- we need to differentiate more clearly between the different layers of the stack- bust it apart? William Vambenepe covered it brilliantly for Cloud Connect- he starts with the various SPI models one sees:
I used this first slide (a compilation of representations of the 3-layer Cloud stack) to poke some fun at this ubiquitous model of the Cloud architecture. Like all models, it’s neither true nor false. It’s just more or less useful to tackle a given task. While this 3-layer stack can be relevant in the context of discussing economic aspects of Cloud Computing (e.g. Opex vs. Capex in an on-demand world), it is useless and even misleading in the context of some more actionable topics for SaaS: chiefly, how you deliver such services, how you consume them and how you manage them.
In those contexts, you shouldn’t let yourself get too distracted by the “aaS” aspect of SaaS and focus on what it really is.
Which is… a web application (by which I include both HTML access for humans and programmatic access via APIs.). To illustrate this point, I summarized the content of this blog entry. No need to repeat it here. The bottom line is that any distinction between SaaS and POWA (Plain Old Web Applications) is at worst arbitrary and at best concerned with the business relationship between the provider and the consumer rather than technical aspects of the application.
Which means that for most technical aspect of how SaaS is delivered, consumed and managed, what you should care about is that you are dealing with a Web application, not a Cloud service. To illustrate this, I put up the…
… guillotine slide. Which is probably the only thing people will remember from the presentation, based on the ample feedback I got about it. It probably didn’t hurt that I also made fun of my country of origin (you can never go wrong making fun of France), saying that the guillotine was our preferred way of solving any problem and also the last reliable piece of technology invented in France (no customer has ever come back to complain). Plus, enough people in the audience seemed to share my lassitude with the 3-layer Cloud stack to find its beheading cathartic.
Come to think about it, there are more similarities. The guillotine is to the axe what Cloud Computing is to traditional IT. So I may use it again in Cloud presentations.
Of course this beheading is a bit excessive. There are some aspects for which the IaaS/PaaS/SaaS continuum makes sense, e.g. around security and compliance. In areas related to multi-tenancy and the delegation of control to a third party, etc. To the extent that these concerns can be addressed consistently across the Cloud stack they should be.
But focusing on these “Cloud” aspects of SaaS is missing the forest for the tree.
A large part of the Cloud value proposition is increased flexibility. At the infrastructure level, being able to provision a server in minutes rather than days or weeks, being able to turn one off and instantly stop paying for it, are huge gains in flexibility. It doesn’t work quite that way at the application level. You rarely have 500 new employees joining overnight who need to have their email and CRM accounts provisioned. This is not to minimize the difficulties of deploying and scaling individual applications (any improvement is welcome on this). But those difficulties are not what is crippling the ability of IT to respond to business needs.
Rather, at the application level, the true measure of flexibility is the control you maintain on your business processes and their orchestration across applications. How empowered (or scared) you are to change them (either because you want to, e.g. entering a new business, or because you have to, e.g. a new law). How well your enterprise architecture has been defined and implemented. How much visibility you have into the transactions going through your business applications.
It’s about dealing with composite applications, whether or not its components are on-premise or “in the Cloud”. Even applications like Salesforce.com see a large number of invocations from their APIs rather than their HTML front-end. Which means that there are some business applications calling them (either other SaaS, custom applications or packaged applications with an integration to Salesforce). Which means that the actual business transactions go across a composite system and have to be managed as such, independently of the deployment model of each participating application. (Emphasis Ed.)
I completely agree- I guess that cloud is now crossing the chasm we need to differentiate between the layers just like the good ol’ days.
Time for the Feb Mobile watch via Admob/TechCrunch:
According to AdMob, smartphones accounted for 48 percent of its worldwide traffic last month, up from 35 percent in February 2009. Dominant still is iPhone OS, which has increased its share of smartphone requests on the AdMob network from 33 percent in February 2009 to 50 percent in February 2010. Android, however, is the fastest-growing these days.
Symbian is the big loser: while it accounted for 43% of AdMob’s smartphone requests in February 2009, it only reached a 18% share last month.
I didn’t realise until last week that Symbian had been Open Sourced- did you?
In other news:
- Local (Bristol, UK) boys Pearl released their rapportive addin for Gmail/Google Apps- Nice and simple CRM integration in email- GREAT for small business wanting simple integration.
- Love the open pricing discussion by Recurly in true lean startup style.
- Love SaaS shaking up verticals– Retail/Online +Stock = Erply from the founders of skype
- Notes from the field: Bob Warfield on the Freemium Experience from Helpstream
- Nice SaaS charting program timetric– find data: chart online- Great infographics?
Have a great weekend!