Desktop symbol green

SaaS Applications held back by tactics from traditional vendors

Customers should be more vocal to ensure that software vendors don't stall the take-up of SaaS applications

Are companies ready for cloud-delivered software? That seems like a strange question to ask considering that software as a service (SaaS) is the largest of the three main areas of cloud. However,I believe there are several issues that are currently potentially holding back the pace of change.

For me, SaaS is how all applications will be, and should be, delivered moving forward. They are platform independent which supports the growing belief that bring your own device (BYOD) will be the method of choice for most employers within the next few years. It’s also far more cost-effective and, as well as being an operating expense-based model, far more flexible than on-premise traditional software architectures. All of these factors place it in a strong position to become the de facto method of application delivery and support.

Some cynics suggest SaaS offerings can’t be customised like bespoke software due to their multi-tenanted architecture, but I don’t agree. I think that it’s only a matter of time before full customisation will be a standard feature of most SaaS applications. This will be achievable quickly and cost-effectively with some of these abilities already becoming available from some of the current well-established and feature-rich SaaS providers.

So what are the potential issues that might hold back uptake? Firstly, we are still seeing the large software houses continuing to push old and outdated software suites, they aren’t innovating either, they don’t seem to be investing in building the architecture or skills needed to deliver the next generation platforms or the tools so obviously needed by modern and agile businesses, instead they continue to only offer their out-dated legacy packages.

I’m also still seeing the trend from these traditional software players where they are purporting to be offering their products in a new SaaS method but it only takes some due diligence to find they are often old applications being wrapped up in new SaaS-labelled version. They are unlikely to have the flexibility in their delivery or their cost models that would be expected from a true SaaS product, instead most require the full or at least the annual costs up front at a price point very similar to their old perpetual models.

For me, this continues to be both frustrating and disappointing as it undermines the true idea of SaaS and the business model that underpins it.

As users become more and more influenced by consumer-based software and apps, businesses need software companies that are focused on the development of SaaS-based applications that, through their innovation, will deliver the levels of flexibility, agility and features that are being demanded.

Ultimately for this to truly change will take business pressure, as this is the only thing that the above-mentioned software companies will listen to, this is more likely to come from clients moving to SaaS based competitors than through the delivery of new products, certainly in the short term any way.

By Julian Box, Posted 15th July 2013.