Sage to World: “Forget SaaS, Let’s Just do Cloud.”

I wanted to get a “Jump the Shark” type reference in the title of this post – but it didn’t make sense, and frankly is a pretty played out term.

Anyway…Sage Software has just announced that they are going to make their applications available in the cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Hmmmm…

To me, what Sage has done here is essentially skip a major phase in the evolutionary cycle of application design, development, deployment, management etc. needed to fully excel in the cloud. That stage is SaaS.

Look, it may seem nit-picky. After all, spinning up applications on a one-off manner on Amazon is in a way very similar to what Sage does now – in terms of its partners selling and managing app stacks on a 1:1 basis. (In short, in an out-dated and increasingly inefficient model.) But, there is a major benefit one learns in managing SaaS applications – that of scale, how to share resources effectively, manage remote upgrades, etc.

(Here is where the political history buff in me would love to go on a diatribe about how important it is to fully realize evolutionary cycles in order to completely reap the benefits of mature development – and cite the fall of totalitarian communism as a clear end result of not fully realizing Marx’s dialectic. But I won’t go there…)

Sage has talked about SaaS a lot, but as an analyst I never really saw much come out of it. It’s SaaS products acquired in the Accpac acquisition years ago were OK – but that was early SaaS. A lot of vendors, Sage included – have yet to impress me with any sort of scalable, highly available web architecture.

I am curious as to how much had to be altered to some of Sage’s older CRM products (specifically SalesLogix) in order to port them to the cloud. I gather not much – part of the beauty of AWS is that you can pretty much support any environment up there – as long as you build that stack and maintain it yourself or instruct partners how to maintain that very specialized stack. Compare this to a standards based model where your app can run in any cloud environment that support – say Linux, Apache and PHP (in short – every cloud environment you can think of).

I wonder how this will play out… Will the absence of SaaS really matter in the long run, if we are truly moving to the cloud? After all, isn’t the cloud where everything is happening? It is if you ask a company like Salesforce.com.

But wait, their core app is SaaS, and not cloud…so… maybe there is something important about hitting your SaaS stride before bringing a strong web architecture into the clouds. Again, a hearty “hmmmmm…”

2 thoughts on “Sage to World: “Forget SaaS, Let’s Just do Cloud.”

  1. In my experience, multi-tenant SaaS tends to be driven by technology choices that prioritize the interests of the vendor over those of the individual customer, which inevitably results in solution compromise. For example, beyond the basic configuration toolset, most SaaS vendors expect their customers carry out something akin to keyhole surgery when it comes to development; making them blindly negotiate their way around tricky run-time exceptions, proprietary code, test compliancy requirements and rigid data structures. All designed to ensure that individual customers are sufficiently hamstrung that they sit neatly, quietly and obediently in their cubicle. Then they lock down all features and capabilities, and introduce them to a pricing segmentation strategy that would make a budget airline blush. And that’s before you throw a spanner like commercial open source into the works (software asset management anyone??). Remember, Tier 1 analysts say that economics remain the overriding reason why most companies move to SaaS. In fact, Gartner’s most recent worldwide survey on SaaS cited TCO advantage as the #1 reason (54%) driver for SaaS adoption. So, if the customer gets all of the ownership benefits of SaaS without all the limitations, restrictions and other gotchas, isn’t that the most important thing?????????

  2. I can’t reveal my name here since I sell Sugar AND Sage products.
    But…
    You are correct sir!

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