SaaS fundamentals

Phew! 2008 is over. Finally. No point in looking back at the rubble that makes up the current mess. The goal for 2009 is to figure out how to make lemonade from these lemons and ensure company growth. Think business fundamentals and fiscal prudence. This is not to suggest returning to old ways of thinking, but instead to look at new and emerging technologies to see if they offer near term value. Software as a service (SaaS) is one such technology.

In this blog I will be addressing SaaS throughout 2009. I'll cover how to evaluate which applications to consider, how to implement, security and identity, pitfalls to using the cloud computing model and anything else you, the reader, tell me you want to know. That’s the key... you have to talk back to me. Make this interactive. Let me know what works and where I missed the boat.  Without further ado, let's get started.

SaaS is part of a much larger business modeling concept of cloud computing. It is not recommended a company go out and move the entire organization into the cloud, but there are large chunks of the firm where it makes fiscal sense to do so. The goal in 2009 is to rein in costs while growing the company. Here's how SaaS can help:

1. Controlling software licensing expenses. It is not unusual for a firm to have more licenses than they need for any given application. This is especially true as headcount is being reduced. By utilizing a software service provider licensing, patches, upgrades, and renewals are tightly monitored. A firm only pays for what it needs. Think if it as software elasticity.

2. Controlling rogue software installations. Using a software service provider allows the company to establish an approved applications list and keep it enforced. IT no longer has to support random applications specific to one or a handful of users. Streamlining application support improves efficiencies, expertise and keeps everyone working.

3. Reducing infrastructure expenses. Every desktop or laptop does not need to have the entire business suite of applications installed. Web-based application access allows companies to purchase only the amount of desktop horsepower needed for the job. For many roles, thin desktops and virtual operating systems are enough to get the job done.

4. Allowing for application testing. We have all been here. There is an application that looks like it might solve a real business problem. You buy it and it turns out to be a bust. What do you do with the 25 licenses? Eat it. That's the only option available. However, utilizing a software service provider opens the door to exploring new applications that might better suit your specific needs. Some vendors offer 30 day trials. You'll know within a week or two if the choice is right for you. In addition, the service provider has the expertise to tell you what will readily integrate with your existing software, an added bonus.

SaaS isn't the holy grail to all your business challenges, but implementing it in key areas will help to curb unnecessary expenses.

The next blog post will be on the role of security when using SaaS. I'll be talking with a few SaaS security experts and will provide you with some key considerations. Talk back and tell me what you think.

Happy New Year and best wishes for a strong recovery in 2009.

You can find me at:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/marthalyoung

http://twitter.com/myoung_vbiz

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