I have long been a fan of Phil Wainewrite’s ZDNet blog “Software as Services“, yes that is not a typo, he does quite rightly call the blog Software as Services. His last two entries “Enterprise SaaS and the Cloud” and “How to Package up the SaaS Platform” have been an educational delight. Let me start by reiterating the advice Phil gives to ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) about building a SaaS application, he says:
ISVs today have three choices when setting out to build a SaaS application:
- Build the application on your own infrastructure, which you’ll have to assemble from scratch using open source and commodity components.
- Build it on a packaged platform from an established application infrastructure vendor such as Oracle, Microsoft, Progress Software, etc.
- Build it on a cloud computing platform and let the provider take care of the infrastructure for you.
Now here’s the thing, the choices have nothing to do with the application itself, Phil is not giving us a long list of do’s and don’ts about what sort of SaaS applications work or the benefit of his experience to quickly overcome things that have failed in the past. No, he has gone straight to the heart of the matter, that is the infrastructure and management platform upon which the SaaS application will run. Thus we see two types of business here; the infrastructure and platform provider, the guys who are concerned with the management of the applications, that is, how they are hosted, catalogued, discovered, secured, provisioned and finally billed for; then there are the applications themselves and the business problems they assist in or resolve. Once again we see SalesForce.com leading a charge here, they built their own application on their own infrastructure (type 1), then introduces some packaged vendor code (type 2) and now finally, realising the strength of the management platform they have now lease it as a cloud (type 3) for vendors as force.com to do their own development. Force.com is not on it’s own offering ‘cloud development facilities for SaaS applications though, there are a plethora of smaller companies entering into the fray including Bungee Connect focusing on CRM type apps (still in beta), Coghead with a selection of fairly simple apps and Iceberg whose promise is to “allow non-technical users to create Enterprise applications in hours – no code required”. All pretty much in startup mode, but beginning to make an impact.
Filed under: SOA