I have been for years and remain steadfastly convinced that software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-based solutions can be powerful contributors to competitive agility for a growing range of businesses. But there are a lot of so-called "SaaS solutions" out there that are neither.
Real SaaS and cloud-based solutions are built on modern Internet/Web services technologies, and are not just old applications with new, Web-based, "lipstick-on-a-pig" interfaces. Real SaaS and cloud-based solutions support rapid, easy configuration and customization, for users and providers, as dictated by their respective business needs and goals. And perhaps most important, real SaaS and cloud-based solutions demonstrably, measurably improves business performance and responsiveness and user satisfaction while reducing costs for all concerned.
Some of the Vendors that Get It:
Salesforce.com -- for the vision, the persistence, the philanthropy, the first-major-mover advantage, the partner ecosystem, the platform-as-a-service stuff, and all the other stuff they have gotten and are getting right better and/or sooner than almost any other SaaS vendor.
Astadia -- for understanding the value of services that help companies unlock and realize the business value of SaaS/on-demand solutions such as those from Salesforce.com and its partners.
Servicenow.com -- for delivering on the promise of SaaS-enabled IT infrastructure management, helping companies focus even more resources on their core businesses and less on managing those IT infrastructures. (Full disclosure: I'm currently employed full-time at ServiceNow.)
EnterpriseWizard -- for having sufficient vision, tenacity and focus on what really matters to business users to build a hosted platform that really does enable rapid creation and deployment of custom-tailored, process-driven, easy-to-use applications...with NO coding. (Seriously. Check'em out, and read what I wrote about them at Focus.com.)
Companies such as Akamai, Inforonics, OpSource, and Savvis -- for understanding that as SaaS grows, the need to enable SaaS provider infrastructures that are reliable, robust, and scalable becomes greater, in importance and market potential for them, their SaaS provider clients and partners, and the user companies they serve.
More Dortch on SaaS and Cloud Computing:
The Blog: Read, comment upon, and subscribe to my latest thinking on SaaS (which I see as inevitable for many businesses), here. (Link will open in new window or tab, to make it easy for you to return to this location.)
Practical Advice for SAP Users (and Others): Check out the on-demand Webcast in which I discuss "Understanding How SAP Managed Hosting Works."
SaaS and The Big Meltdown: In mid-January 2009, I wrote my last significant work for Aberdeen Group, my former employer and long-time IT market-watchers -- an Analyst Insight entitled "SaaS and RFID: Key Business Value Enablers in 2009." Based on a survey I conducted in September and October 2008, I found that business users are pursuing SaaS primarily to meet increasing demand for new applications, maximize the ROI of their IT investments, and manage escalating IT infrastructure costs. You can read the entire Analyst Insight here (in a separate window or tab), if you are a subscriber to Aberdeen's Vault service. (And you can check out my later blog entry for an updated, more cautious view of the whole thing, then maybe add your two cents to the discussion at Focus.com, "Can SaaS/Cloud Vendors Be Trusted?")
International SaaS: Business News Americas, which focuses on IT and business in Central and South America, interviewed me about opportunities in those regions, and I argue that those opportunities definitely include SaaS. Check out the Q&A here (in a separate window or tab).
Additional opinions and discussion of specific vendors and strategies at my SaaS/cloud blog. Meanwhile, feel free to write me at email@example.com with your suggestions and questions, or to schedule an initial, no-cost e-mail or telephone conversation about your specific SaaS-related challenges, whether you're buying or selling SaaS or cloud-based solutions!