We were involved in a recent roundtable meeting where the topic of Software as a Service (SaaS) came up. Some of the people there felt it’s an important trend, others viewed it as the latest round of Silicon Valley hype.
Our view is that it’s an important change in the way the industry works, but one that will take years to play out. As so often happens in our industry, it will probably be written off by a lot of people before it has its greatest impact.
Most articles about Software as a Service (SaaS) focus on its many benefits, but only a few talk about its drawbacks. In almost breathless tones, IDC forecasts that SaaS will grow at 21% a year through 2009, reaching $10.7 billion. With last week’s launch of a SaaS offering by SAP and the ongoing launch of Microsoft’s Windows OneCare Live, the 1,000 pound gorillas are taking the field. With SaaS services vendors pitching their services to one and all, there’s little focus on the pragmatic questions of why SaaS is appropriate and when is the right time to make the move. We look at who cannot afford to miss the SaaS boat and who might benefit from a later departure. Our clients are especially interested in understanding SaaS with regards to desktop applications.
Is the Education market facing several years of flat growth, or are things looking up? A widely reported forecast from INPUT recently predicted flat IT spending in US Education until a sharp upturn after 2008. Reading deeper, the renewed spending is predicated on the wildly optimistic hope of reigning in healthcare spending beginning in 2008. So, without the rose-colored glasses, the outlook is pretty discouraging with little relief in sight.
A few years ago, Application service providers (ASPs) were all the rage. Then the Internet bubble burst and the term fell from favor. Now more companies are offering their applications via Software as a Service (SaaS). Some articles you read do not even attempt to distinguish between the two, and refer to ASP/ SaaS companies.
So what is the difference, and why is distinguishing between them important.
Users and vendors are both grappling with the impact on pricing models as a result of the introduction of multi-core CPUs. The choice between pricing per user and per server grew more complicated a few years ago when multi-processor servers came into broad use. With two-thirds of new servers expected to ship with multi-core CPUs by the end of 2006, software publishers are anything but unified in their reaction. Is a dual-core CPU one or two CPUs for licensing purposes? Consensus appears to be a long ways off.
Oracle, always looking for a way to improve licensing revenue, counts the number of cores. Microsoft counts only the number of CPUs. IBM, trying to have it both ways, counts by cores for some types of CPUs, but not for others.
Why would someone want to video, record, or photograph everything that happened to them and/or their friends on a particular day, or any day, for that matter? Perhaps the best answer is simply because they can. Similar to the 70’s slide shows of “Dad packing the car”, but with a digital twist, the abundance of gadgets, Web sites, and software specifically designed and focused to easily record, document, organize and store all of life’s moments, it’s no wonder that everyday activities, no matter how mundane, are being recorded as if they are Oscar winning moments. Trendwatching.com, a leading Web source for the latest trends and insights who also dubbed this trend as “Life Caching”, put it best when they said, “Human beings love to collect and store possessions, memories, experiences, in order to create personal histories, mementoes of their lives, or just to keep track for practical reasons.”