Real-World Cloud Computing
Why SaaS and ISVs Clash
What ISVs need to remember as they plan their SaaS strategies
By: Eric Farrar
Feb. 8, 2012 06:00 AM
Interest in cloud-based applications continues apace, but hosting can be a complicated endeavor for ISVs.
The enduring popularity of Software-as-a-service (SaaS) isn't accidental. Whether you're a technology reseller or a traditional enterprise, there's a lot to like about the use of a service model for software delivery, including low monthly cost, fast time-to-market and few deployment hiccups. But SaaS does not reward all organizations equally.
Unfortunately for ISVs, who fall on the 'delivery' side of the service-delivery relationship, the benefits of SaaS are tempered by risks. The nature of being an ISV complicates many decisions about technology and some of these will be amplified when ISVs move toward SaaS delivery. In order to make a smooth transition, ISVs must develop a strategy in full recognition of these unique challenges.
ISVs Are Different
Enterprises, which can concentrate on consuming technology rather than provisioning it, can usually absorb the consequences of the occasional short-sighted decision without too much pain. Rewriting an ill-conceived software application is something they can do behind the scenes, while treading water with the sub-optimal system in the meantime. They can even decide to outsource that function on a temporary basis.
ISVs, on the other hand, can rarely afford to back pedal their technology choices. A full rewrite of any customer-facing software system means taking their foot off the gas, the impact of which goes straight to the bottom line. Worse, there is little way to obscure such mistakes from the notice of customers. When ISVs guess wrong about technology, both short-term revenue and long-term reputation are equally at risk. And not everyone will get the opportunity to recoup those losses.
Into the Cloud
Most ISVs are struggling to get to market quickly so they can keep pace with early competitors. With time short, architectural decision planning is curtailed. And the desire to avoid taking on unfamiliar technical competencies, such as server management, become important decision criteria. As a result, the driving importance of customer concerns, such as functionality and customization, as well as control and flexibility over central business assets is being compromised.
Finally, there are new entanglements that arise with hosting, many of which directly conflict with the pressure on ISVs to make broad, inclusive architectural choices. These include:
Caution and Control
As you move applications to the cloud, give yourself ample time now to choose the architectures, technologies and suppliers that will help you maintain both flexibility and consummate control of your business.
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