Big news- SuccessFactors signs biggest ever SaaS customer- 2.1 million seats and buys SaaS vendor CubeTree, then does an upgrade.
Eric Norlin puts the CastIron deal in a historical perspective- have we crossed the chasm?
SaaS based security for your SaaS vendor? WAF and they types of cloud security.
Joel York on SaaS Channels- still hard work!
Great deck from “the real world” of building SaaS businesses- Xobni and Dropbox on growing from 0 users to 2 million users in 2 years plus Xobni’s pivots
Sean Ellis on Steve Blank’s presentation to the SLL conference- “a must watch”
Jeff Kaplan’s interesting observations from his participation in the cloud conferences over the past few weeks
Evernote continue to share their growth stats
Lincoln analyses Ning’s pivot away from freemium and new pricing
In other news; Lithium, Google Apps integration, VMware acquisition
Events- The brilliant Simon Wardley, Canonical Cloud Evangelist (makers of ubuntu) is speaking at theEuroCloud UK event on the 19th of May near Kings Cross, London. Simon is probably best known for this presentation on Cloud (well at least to 23,500 people):
Despite being mere yards from my office- I have a triple clash
TWIS#25 This Week in SaaS
The big SaaS news this week was that SuccessFactors signed the highest scale Enterprise IT deal ever- 2.1 million seats! The customer is thought to be WalMart, although nobody is giving anything away.
Brilliant presentation video on Cloudonomics by Amazon VP James Hamilton- why Cloud is here to stay, plus some super geeky (but very interesting) details on data centres.
My Cloud ROI deck from the Cloud Circle conference this week plus Eric Norlin on why agility is the real driver of ROI
Enterprise Irregular and Salesforce VP Anshu Sharma on the 5 Big Trends he Missed and You Probably Did Too- from Silicon Valley leaders
Great Mobile sector analysis by Ewan MacLeod plus Mashable on what’s driving mobile network traffic
The Multi-Tenancy debate lives on! This time with a new name SaaS-Querade!
Highlights from the Startup Lessons Learned Conference- IMVU video
McAfee breaking customer computers- take that on-premise vendor FUD!
In other news, Boomi, Salesforce, SaaS channels, Ingram, Microsoft, Apple, Apps Marketplace, Symantec, Freemium, Cloud myths and Facebook is trying to take over the world….
A really busy week!
I’m going to be at infosec Europe Tuesday – Thursday, if you’re there I’d love to meet you- please come and say hello! I’ll be around the Mimecast stand and going to SaaS / Cloud related events. If you want to find me- email me email@example.com
My main focus will be getting a “state of the nation” on what people feel about SaaS / Cloud security- has it really crossed the chasm or do people still feel there is an issue? I’ve got some good questions from readers- if you’ve got something you want asked- email me.
Also on Thursday this week for those of you that can’t make it to infosec, I’m doing a webinar with my boss, Peter Bauer on Extending your Microsoft Exchange Servers with Cloud Services 2.00pm BST / 9.00am EST. Peter is a real world SaaS CEO, running a company with over 550,000 end users and it’s an opportunity to get to understand how the cloud is meeting the premise in a very real way plus to ask questions of Peter and me. See you there Thursday- or feel free to email me your questions in advance if you can’t make it on the day.
If you’re in Dallas and free tomorrow- there are still some spaces for Lincoln Murphy’s FREE SaaS and Web App pricing round table- he’s doing a broadcast to the UK but you’ll be able to take part in person- you need to get in there very quick as space is limited to 6 people.
One of the most crucial aspects of any startup is to figure out how to make money. Oddly, this is a very overlooked and misunderstood element in startups with many deciding to put it off until later; but often later is too late. Or they just copy 37Signals pricing…
Finding out how your customers buy (what channels they go through), what they’ll pay, and how they will pay are very important to understand early. You can build the greatest product that meets the requirements of your target market, but if your pricing is off, your distribution methods are misaligned with your market, or your customers simply cannot pay you, it doesn’t matter. Since Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Web Apps have inbuilt support for e-commerce and pricing metrics, knowing all of this early in the process will ensure you’ve built a product that will adequately support your customer base in all areas.
To that end, I have been invited (on very short notice) to moderate a Pricing roundtable discussion by SaaS and Web App founders and CEOs this coming Tuesday 4/27/2010 at 10AM. The event is in actually in England but I will be joining via a teleconference link at the Tandberg offices in Dallas, Texas. There is room for 6 people to join me and to participate in the event. There is no charge to attend this event.
If you are in Dallas, are currently involved in a post-beta (ie. in the market) startup or later-stage SaaS or Web App company and would like to discuss your Pricing and Distribution strategies while learning from others experience as well, please RSVP here.
This is a great opportunity to meet Lincoln in person and get some valuable knowledge for free.
I couldn’t resist- after a week of travel chaos in Europe 😉
Rick Chapman is running his SaaS survey in Europe– if you’re a European SaaS provider- I would encourage you to fill it out.
James Hamilton, a VP at Amazon, did a brilliant talk at Mix 10 a few weeks ago– if you haven’t seen it, its well worth a view- if only for a detailed understanding of why cloudonomics work from a vendor perspective and why cloud vendors are going to be around for some time, plus some super geeky (but very interesting) detail on the economics of data centres. Well worthwhile watching- here’s the intro:
High-scale cloud services provide economies of scale of five to ten times over small-scale deployments, and are becoming a large part of both enterprise information processing and consumer services. This talk details the costs, and cost advantages, of high-scale, cloud services. We begin with an inventory of the infrastructure costs, tracking power distribution and losses from 115kV at the property line through all conversions into the data center to final delivery at semiconductor voltage levels. We then look at the mechanical systems responsible for transporting heat from the servers through to heat dissipation outside of the data center. We conclude with a detailed discussion of cloud computing cost advantages.
As I mentioned last week- I delivered a conference presentation on Cloud ROI last week- it was good to meet a few readers who came. I haven’t yet done the voiceover- but here is the deck:
Alright, I admit it! This whole public-private-hybrid cloud debate the clouderati love to go back and forth about just — *yawn* — never really — *yawn* — did much for me. Only you crazy engineering types could get so worked up over the purity of a definition.
Same thing for the whole “capex/opex” cloud benefit speech. I see it at every single cloud event running today — you know, the “why the cloud will improve your bottom line” panel (or some variation on that theme), and wow I have something approaching zero desire to hear about that.
But until this morning, I could never figure out why. And then I read this piece. In it, Lori MacVittie lays out an amazing argument as to why “the benefits of cloud computing” (as in “public cloud”) aren’t about cost (or efficiency of cost) as a driver. As it turns out, *agility* is probably the key driver in the cloud, with a cost factor coming into play in the private cloud. Let me elaborate a bit.
Agility: This is the one that’s always made sense to me. You want an agile architecture, right? I mean, there’s not a C-level person on the planet that wakes up and says, “you know what we need? An IT architecture that makes us react to change as slowly as possible.” Agility should live at the infrastructure and platform level (an obvious, if not easy, benefit of cloud computing), but it *also* should live at the application layer. In ALL of these cases (infrastructure, platform and application), what makes agility work is “glue” — which is to say, when your architecture allows you to easily connect, disconnect, plug and play, whatever you call it (glue together the networks, data, people and applications), then you’re agile. Forget cost, the pure operational benefit of an agile architecture is self evident. Agility gives you the greater chance of survival in a world that seems to have become a constant stream of black swans.
Cost in the private cloud: This benefit makes perfect sense to me. At the infrastructure level, the private cloud collapses the network administrator (1 function), the security administrator (1 function), and the compliance administrator (1 function) into 1 function (3 into 1), thereby reducing the IT hours in the equation of cost. But it occurs to me that gluecon’s view of the application layer (essentially, one that’s been around since the dawn of SOA), namely, that we need business IT architectures to resemble our webby architecture — in fact, we need it to *become* the same as the web architecture — also lowers the cost of application development, deployment, scalability and interoperability. In other words, I’m wondering does the “cost benefit” of cloud computing happen at the infrastructure layer via a private cloud, at the platform layer via a hybrid cloud and at the application layer via a public cloud?
Anyway you slice it, the issue is not some cheap-hit panel on the “business benefits” of the cloud. It’s actually just *slightly* more nuanced than that. Every engineer in the space knows this instinctively. It’s why you won’t find them hanging around those kinds of panels. It’s why you *will* find them at gluecon.
I had an opportunity to meet an interesting set of Silicon Valley leaders last week, and I realized what a loser I am. Okay, so not really – but I did miss out on a couple of trends while I focused on cloud computing and social – trends closer to what I do for a living. I thought I would look back and give you a list of big trends I missed or didn’t pay enough attention to, and what I plan to do about it:
Energy Management (or Carbon Apps)
Social Gaming and Virtual Goods
Video over Internet
The list is even longer – I didn’t pay enough attention early on to multi-core processors, SSDs, connected devices revolution, — the list is long. What trends have you missed?
Interesting perspective, although I think we’re paying pretty close attention to mobile (he says iPhone) here 😉
Thinking about mobile- this is a great presentation on Mobile from this week’s TechCrunch Geek’n’rolla:
Also thinking about mobile- it is currently responsible for about 60% of Facebook’s traffic and we’ve seen from Genentech last week in TWIS#22 what it can do to SaaS usage, this week Mashable posted:
A recent study by Ground Truth, a mobile measurement firm, revealed that approximately 60% of the time spent on the mobile Internet is spent on social networking sites and apps. Users spent only about 14% of mobile Internet time on portals, the second most popular category.
“The disparity of time spent between social networking and the next category, portals, which account for 59.83 and 13.65 percent of time spent respectively, is a vivid illustration of the impact social networking has on Mobile Internet traffic in a given week,” observed Vice President of Marketing Evan Neufeld
Interesting- real data showing Apps and Social networking are driving mobile traffic.
Customers who don’t see through the fakery will get stuck with old, expensive solutions
Lately, my phone and calendar are getting filled with calls from vendors who want to tell me all about their re-purposed, on-premise applications. The calls have a few familiar aspects but they’re all masquerades. And, mostly, they’re bad for software users.
First, the pattern:
An on-premise vendor, seeing softness in new license sales numbers, starts to (finally) realize that Software as a Service (SaaS) is real. So, the vendor decides that a ‘hosted’ ERP application is a close enough facsimile to a SaaS solution. All the hosted product needs is a bit of SaaS marketing and it’s a done deal. Right? Wrong!
A dear friend of mine is a software marketing pro. She told me that her ERP product is about to get a big splashy marketing campaign announcing its SaaS credentials. I immediately said that this can’t be as its an old school ERP product that the vendor sometimes hosts. She replied that whether the solution is hosted by the vendor or in someone else’s cloud is immaterial to a customer.
That’s really wrong on a number of fronts. To begin with, a hosted on-premise product is likely not a multi-tenant solution. Multi-tenancy permits a vendor to apply a software upgrade once and have it automatically work for dozens or hundreds of customers simultaneously. In a single tenant solution, the software vendor must apply the changes one customer at a time. The latter approach is very expensive and potentially error-prone.
My good friend said that this argument (multi-tenancy) is immaterial to the customer as the responsibility for applying upgrades is the vendor’s problem not the customer’s. Again, this is wrong.
This leads to the second point: When solutions are not multi-tenant, they will be more expensive to upgrade and the vendor must either pass those costs on to the customer or the vendor must be willing to offer few upgrades to the product. Seriously, who wants a product with a built-in cost disadvantage? Who wants a product that a vendor is disinclined to upgrade? No one does. Multi-tenancy is a necessary component to true SaaS solutions if the customer is to get frequent upgrades and a lower cost solution.
…The hype machinery is also going full-bore to convince software buyers that SaaS-enabled applets or bolt-on applications around older on-premise applications are a great value or proof that the vendor is delivering on SaaS. That, too, is a bit of a stretch as the cloud-based applications may possess different technical architectures than the on-premise applications they are supposed to work with.
Those architecture differences could make configuration changes a challenge. Suppose you want to tailor the new cloud-based application. Will its configuration changes work with the old on-premise product? Probably not. Those changes will need to be replicated with a different set of tools in the on-premise application. And, that’s assuming those changes are even possible in the older products. This spring brings an exceptional level of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) to the applications world.
And, I fear the FUD will continue to grow at an exceptional rate. Software buyers really need help now. The misdirection and misinformation may create too many opportunities for bad decisions.
Sir Walter Scott may have had it right in 1808 when he said “Oh, what tangled web we weave. When first we practice to deceive.” I think he’d want to update those lines today….. (Emphasis Ed.)
Well put Brian. That’s why there’s an extra D in the FUD in common parlance, closely related to Sir Walter Scott’s saying… We mustn’t let traditional ISV’s try and get away as passing off “on-demand” or hosted offerings as SaaS when they are clearly not- it’s bad for the customer and ultimately bad for the SaaS industry.
Regular Readers will know I’m a big fan of the Lean Startup school of product management- their first conference was this week and there were some excellent presentations- including this from IMVU- the company that inspired the whole movement.
Click on the link above to access more videos from the conference.
Other big news in tech was the McAfee blocking the Network port of some protected machines- Krishnan uses it to subtly remind the SaaS nay-sayers of their own problems:
One of the biggest criticisms leveled against Cloud Computing, in general, and SaaS, in particular, is the reliance on third party for the availability of applications. It is true that SaaS forces you to rely on the third party vendors because the resources lie on the datacenters elsewhere as opposed to your local machine or on-premise datacenters. But, I do not agree that SaaS cannot be trusted just because we have our applications and data elsewhere. In my opinion, it is pure FUD than anything else.
Our reliance of third party providers dates long back into the human history. Even in the traditional computing world, we have to rely on many third party vendors from electricity to run the business to proper functioning of computing resources to operating system to software. Even though they are located on premise, there is some sort of reliance on third party vendors and service providers. When we buy a software from a traditional vendor, we trust them to work the way we want (unless it is open source), we trust the vendors to make timely security patches and updates, we rely on the update to work flawlessly, etc.. Once upon a time we relied on the vendors to send the updates and patches through media. We trusted that the vendors will send in time, the carriers will deliver it properly and the media will work flawlessly. Once internet became part of our lives, we trusted the vendors to send the patches and updates through the internet so that our software are updated regularly. In short, we have been relying on third party for many of our computing tasks forever. As the vehicle of delivery changes and matures, we rely more and more on such third party providers to save time and cost. Now, with the maturation of internet and internet capable devices of many form factors, we are trusting third party providers to deliver the applications and other computing services through the internet for consumption. This is a normal progression in any technological evolution. Trying to spin it in any other way is pure FUD.
Traditional vendors are not safe from the cloud! Krishnan also wrote a great article this week on why PaaS is the future.
In other news:
Big congrats to Rick, Bob and the team at Boomi for launching trust.boomi.com – Boomi joining the ranks of tier 1 providers who have an “open kimono” policy about issues.
Major Morgan Stanley “State of the internet” report analysed- how will it effect SaaS? Where is the market going? Great Deck and Video coverage.
Great new stats from Genentech about how mobile has increased their adoption and use of SaaS
Big Freemium news this week- Ning withdraws free version and cuts 40% staff- does freemium really work? ReadWriteWeb, 37Signals and Lincon Murphy comment.
Really nice thoughts by Giff Constable on funding vs effectiveness on the back of Ning / Twitter.
And in other news- Oracle’s latest SaaS acquisition, Chirp Stat’s and the tech sector is hotting up.
I’m speaking tomorrow at the Cloud Circle in London on the ROI of SaaS and Cloud- deck + post to follow shortly (my head is full of SaaS ROI at the moment…) and next week I’ll be at InfoSec Europe talking to people about the state of SaaS and Cloud security. Any thoughts on what you’d like me to ask? Your comments via email or twitter please!
Some of you might have been thinking I’ve been going on and on about mobile the past few weeks- what’s it got to do with SaaS???
Well, sometimes I’m not all that cognisant of where things are taking me- I guess that’s one of the pitfalls of writing a weekly blog post on the state of the industry, but this week things really crystallised for me with the latest Morgan Stanley “State of the internet” research being released. Continue reading →
Breaking news- Is Salesforce to enter the IaaS arena with VMware?
In this week’s TWIS:
Apple v.s. the world madness (in case you missed it…) It is feeling like Orwell’s version of 1984, not Apples (inc. video)
What to do about distribution channels for SaaS apps, lessons learnt from Apple, Twitter, Robert Scoble and Mark Suster
Salesforce show’s chatter in action (and get’s buried under the Apple nonsense)
Techcrunch beats up Microsoft’s cloud abilities
Great post on why multi-tenancy matters by David Linthicum
In other news- Google releases new version of Docs, Clouds working for Governments, Jeff Kaplan Helpstream post mortem, Joel York’s excellent SaaS finance series continues and Mikael launches SaaS customer support survey
OK, OK, I’m now really sorry if you’re fed up with the coverage of the iPad in TWIS, but I think it’s really important to cover the major issues of the day, and analyse how it affects SaaS.
The blogosphere is aghast with the latest salvo fired in the Apple vs the world war – this time it came in the form of an update to its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement that specifically bans the use of third-party compilers for creating apps that will run on the iPhone OS. Basically it looks like Adobe’s plans to create a workaround for Flash on the iPhone and iPad may have been stymied.
What do you make of this 1984 Apple commercial- launching the Mac:
Benioff on Cloud 2.0 (surely we must be over the hype cycle of cloud if it’s already being re-branded 2.0) Trough of disillusionment anyone?
The Video is now out of Fred Wilson’s seminal FOWA talk on the 10 Golden Principles of Successful web apps.
Freemium summit shenanigans: Gigaom, Lincoln, Rags, Matt and Tom with interesting perspectives on how to and not to do freemium plus actual figures from Xobni.
Amazing Clay Shirky post on the demise of Complex business models.
A vintage Kashflow vs Sage rant to follow up the brilliant Shirky thoughts and how it might apply to SaaS
In other news: Bessemer stacks up the in-house talent again, Twilio finally has a competitor, Amazon launches support for legacy storage systems, Mobile data to rise 40 fold over the next 5 years, Are multi-year Up-front payments right in SaaS and more excellent coverage on why Multi-tenancy matters in SaaS.
Welcome to the new Monday edition of TWIS!
It’s somewhat predictable that the world has gone somewhat ga-ga over the iPad over the last few days, given the impact apple has over it’s fans. But this blog isn’t about consumer devices- the reason I keep covering it is because I think it’ll be a transformational device for SaaS- I’m sorry if you’re among the 50% of people who wish everyone would stop talking about it.
It’s going to be incredibly user friendly- Great UX is going to open it up to new audiences
It’s cheap for a touchscreen device at $499.00
It’s got little or no storage- apps need to be run from the cloud
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.
As of this morning I work for Mimecast. The title is “Director of Communities and Content”. The focus is Email. Fun is expected (via Tim Bray).
Well, as many of you know, I’ve been looking for a new home for my skills for a little while- I really miss being part of a team and having a clear focus that you don’t get while consulting. I’ve been having loads of conversations but most of the offers have been US centric, at which point the conversation ended with “I’m not looking to relocate to San Francisco/New York/Boston” (delete as appropriate). Not much good for me- so I was sticking to consulting…
That changes today. I’ve been looking for a UK based SaaS company with a great team, excellent technology, traction, a compelling vision and well funded- I found this at Mimecast. I was introduced to Mimecast by one of their VC’s, Josh Bell and their marketing director, Tim Pickard. The process was slick- lunch with Tim, then an interview with the CEO Peter Bauer and three days later a group presentation to the team (60 minutes of new content in three days- nice!).
They made an offer and I accepted, so here I am.
Well like I mentioned before, I was looking for a great team, excellent technology, traction, a compelling vision and well funded. Not so easy to find in the UK.
I think there are three interesting things to highlight- technology, traction and vision.
A response to Phil Waignright’s post- Is SaaS the same as Cloud?
Fred Wilson’s Ten Golden principles of Succesful Web Apps
IDC thinks SaaS and Cloud is “Crossing the chasm”
Bessemer’s updated public SaaS benchmarks- interesting strategies revealed including Customer Acquisition Costs
Google releases Apps Migration for Exchange- even easier to transition now
In other news, Enomaly, Google Apps Marketplace, Appistry and more
Phil Waignright beat me to following up the EuroCloud event yesterday with his post Is SaaS the same as cloud? – I guess he wasn’t stuck in the traffic on the way home like I was
From the customer’s perspective, it’s all the same. If it’s provided over the Internet on a pay-for-usage basis, it’s a cloud service. Within the industry, we argue about definitions more than is good for us.
The specific example I was talking about in that discussion was a legacy app that has been re-engineered to run on EC2. Each customer has it’s own instance and associated tiers to support that application instance. Yes that’s cloud but not necessarily SaaS- I think that some degree of multi-tenancy is an essential component of SaaS- I don’t want to re-open the technical debate but look at the business reasons.
The reason the vendor is offering this on-demand version is because “customers are demanding it”.