Comments on Software as a Service

19 June, 2005 at 00:09 Leave a comment

[re: Amy Wohl’s “Succeeding with Software as a Service” # ]

Amy Wohl wrote –
Partnerworld Industry Networks : Blogs : Amy Wohl
“One of the questions I get about SaaS all the time is “We can do it (technically), but the users just aren’t ready.” I beg to differ. Let’s examine user behavior in the first decade of the 21st century.
Of the earth’s 6.5 billion people, nearly 1 billion are currently Internet users. (For your information, penetration rates range from 67.5% in North America to about 35% in Europe to 1.5% in Africa.)
Internet users already exist in a server-based environment, using software provided to them across the web by web site owners. They just generally aren’t aware that this is what’s happening. They see their experience (the process and the result) rather than the underlying plumbing.
These users search for information using all types of search engines. They comparison shop at and across web sites. They purchase merchandise, entertainment, and intellectual property (such as computer-based training). They sign up for insurance policies, financial services, dating services, and bridal registries.
In doing this, users trust the servers and the Internet to store their information, keep it confidential, and return it to them when they need it.
They share highly personal information about their bank balance, their credit status, their love life, and their most intimate desires – from the wish for a higher golf score to the need for gourmet chocolate”

I personally think that SaaS is an age-old model of computing when one thinks of how early users (mostly scientists) used to share computers (much like astronomers share telescopes today).

The real challenge is not to make users see this but to shift them away from the SaaP (as product). I think that users are using internet based web-services because they are the only ones available (like a web search engine or a mail account). Given a choice, users would rather have a local product (like a word processor or a calendar) which can do a bit of synchronization rather than give up everything to the whims and fancies of service providers (and their share-holders). — Taking the astronomer analogy further, if each astronomer had her own telescope useful enough for their work, would they be calmouring for time yet? Even, think of how much processing there is on our desktops. There is so much that we are giving it away to find a cure for cancer! So, any SaaS should have a formal proof that this service cannot be replicated as a software product on a desktop. Or if so, that the service option offers tremendous advantages.

As a case in point, I have to login to post a comment and I had to create yet another username and password for this. Why do I have to identify myself all the time and if I forgot my passoword, I have to wait till it gets sorted out till I can access my own data. Another case in point is the popularity of RSS which clearly shows that users would want to have content on their local space.

I would guess that SaaS works only for those software which requires a server-based form-factor to run (like an Amazon catalogue or a dating service). In other words the BaaS is the one that is valid today and will be valid for a long time to come.
I could be wrong though but going by what Sun’s efforts of “the network is the computer” has achieved so far, these 2 cents may ring some harsh bells.

PS: And since I commented here and also have a blog, it is only logical that this gets recorded. But it does not happen. If this were a mailing list (a Blog is but a one-to-many mailing list in a sense), it is all archived and recorded on the server as also my local email client. Sorry for the rant…


Entry filed under: Computers/ICT, India, Projects, Research, WebXP, Xinthe.

Some Beagle/Dashboard Stuff My Art Philiosophy

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