Software as a service is nothing new. We used to call it ASP (application service provider), service bureau and on-demand software and in some cases outsourcing arrangements create a custom model. I found this article very interesting in the light of these new web 2.0/ajax enterprise applications that are popping up such as ajaxWrite and so forth.
I was reading Dan Twing’s article: Software as a service: Outsource the hassle, stay in control. What I liked the most was his list of why’s. Please check out his article, but the following is an excerpt:
1. Rapid implementation: There is no faster way to get started with
a new software application than to take advantage of a professionally
run service. Even complex business process oriented applications can be
ready to go in less than 30 days.
2. Lower cost to implement: Implementation costs are significantly
lower than developing custom solutions or purchasing andinstalling
proprietary software and hardware.
3. Lower cost to operate: The SaaS model spreads infrastructure,
development, maintenance and future innovation costs across a broad
base of users.
4. Reliable cost forecasting: Subscription fees are predictable, allowing you to forecast your IT costs over several years.
5. Ease of access: Implementations are based on Internet access with
browser-based interfaces making it easy for staff to access the service
6. 24×7 support: Support staff who specialize in the
given application and are available 24×7 can mean significant
improvement in end user assistance over on-premise implementations
where the support function is spread across internal IT staff and
remote vendor support for software related issues.
reliability: The infrastructure behind most SaaS offerings is based on
professionally run data centers with full system and database
redundancy, load balancing and fail-over. This willprovide for better availability and performance.
8. Increased security: Physical and data security are generally greater than most companies will put in place for on-premise implementations.
Continual technology enhancements: Planning and managing upgrades is
someone else’s problem. You get the benefit of frequent upgrades
without the hassle of testing, managing change control or converting
10. Reduced risk: Low up front cost, little or no staff time to get
going, and an already up and running environment means that most of the
risks to selecting and implementing new software are avoided. The
project will be on-time, there will be no hardware costs or other
infrastructure surprises, and if it’s not the right software you won’tbe walking away from a big investment if you choose to make a switch.
Some thoughts I would like to add are that control is really a perception issue not always a technical one. In an outsourcing agreement clients can retain control over their environment with the right types of governance and contract management. But though I refer to this as a perception it is very peramount for the clients and the vendors to clearly understand each others expectations. The vendor may say that you can not customize workflow, but you can create custom reports.
In Project X’s case we leverage an industry best practices data model for our vertical implementations and have a governance and architecture team from both sides work together to avoid further customization unless needed for our ASP Data Warehouse solution, or we leverage a working data store model for the different data and use the views to join it together.