As I write this week's roundup, there is some debate going on between the Enterprise Irregulars on the SaaS term itself - could there be a better term? It's a bit ugly, and a bit of a mouthful, but Vinnie suggests "as a Service" is here to stay. He says:
"Few of my corporate clients have a problem understanding "as a service" - they know it means no capex, lots of stuff they should technically not have to worry about....if they can be convinced about the "not worry about" part - security, service levels, etc - they have little problem with the term service. "
Vinnie highlights we've already got Hardware as a Service, Chris Selland reminded me we have Telephony as a Service, and earlier this week I saw Bob Brauer, CEO of Strikeiron, talk about Data as a Service, and say DaaS is gut!
One of the recent talking points has been hybrid access for web applications. Dan Farber reported on Zimbra's announcement of their off-line client:
"The Desktop Zimbra client (alpha code) will solve the problem of disconnected use, which plagues many online, on demand application users. The desktop version offers faster search, rich email rendering and synching with the Zimbra server. The Desktop Zimbra alpha download is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and is free for open source and Zimbra Network Edition users to try out. Pricing and availability haven't been set, according to the company"
Om Malik suggests the desktop is like a "cat with nine lives" as announcements of the death of software are premature:
"The biggest problem, of course is the availability of ubiquitous broadband, without which even the smartest web application is as bright as Paris Hilton. As long as Moore's Law helps keep Silicon Valley churning out ever-faster processors and the storage capacities of disk drives keep rising (along with falling prices) the edge client (translation: the desktop) will always be around."
He references the Zimbra client, Salesforce's off-line edition, Adobe Apollo, or Yahoo Widgets 4 as examples.
Meanwhile Mastermaq, a Microsoft developer quotes the same Dan Farber post and wonders why Microsoft aren't better placed with their software AND services approach:
"The company spends billions on R&D every year too, so it should be no surprise that they are often ahead of the curve when it comes to technology innovations. I don't know what the problem is, but I continue to be amazed at how they can be so far ahead, and yet so far behind, all at the same time"
Elsewhere Alex Barnett quotes Richard McManus and picks up on Yahoo's announcement of an API to its mail application, and see this as a big deal pointing the new direction for the web:
"Why is this 'big'? It is a clear signal of where we're all going with the web. APIs, APIs APIs!!!!!"
APIs and mashups are going to be crucial, but taking things back to practical application of SaaS and web 2.0 technologies, I listened to this podcast on Jenerous of Eric Madsen talking to Mark Mader, the president of SmartSheet. Mark's product is not competing head on with traditional spreadsheets or online versions like Editgrid, but where spreadsheets are used lists of work and assignments of work that people share. That's the kind of project management approach that many organizations end up using. It's always interesting listening to the top guy talking about his product, company and business model.
Lastly, Joe McKendrick was writing at the FASTForward blog, about SaaS passing the tipping point. He says:
"Saugatuck predicts that the next surge of growth will come from large enterprises that are now beginning to view SaaS as "just another part of the fabric of enterprise IT." Saugatuck calculates that on average, the typical large enterprise now taps into at least three SaaS applications, with one in seven having greater than 10 SaaS applications."
Jeff Kaplan jumped in in the comments to suggest this is old news, but it's still heartening to hear more enterprise examples, and more commentators saying the same thing.
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