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Software as a Service (SAAS): A New Trend in Computing

Why "software as a service" is (or is not -- pick one) going to dominate the next several years in information management?

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Note: Please see the attached file entitled "guide answers to Software as a Service.docx" for the version of the bellow including proper formatting and graphs.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet.

Benefits of the SaaS model include:
- easier administration
- automatic updates and patch management
- compatibility: All users will have the same version of software.
- easier collaboration, for the same reason
- global accessibility.

(Search Cloud Computing, "Software as a Service", http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com/definition/Software-as-a-Service)

Eight (8) Trends in Software as a Service Platforms according to Alex Barnett.

To kick off the new year, I presented to around 40 or 50 members of Utah Technology Council (UTC) last week. The title of the topic they asked me to speak about was "Trends in Software as a Service Platforms". I searched around for some ideas and came across two recent posts predicting trends in SaaS for 2008, one by Phil Wainewright "Eight Reasons SaaS Will Surge in 2008" and Jeff Kaplan's post "Top Ten Reasons Why On-Demand Services in 2008". I decided to borrow liberally from these (thanks Phil and Jeff) and mash these two together (along with a couple of thoughts of my own) and present "8 Trends in Software as a Service Platforms" to an audience made up of CTOs and VPs of engineering and development for software companies in the Utah area.
In preparation for the presentation, my boss (Martin Plaehn) at Bungee Labs suggested I write up my presentation as notes blog them afterward, so here they are.

Trends in Software as a Service Platforms
1. SaaS is just part of the web mega-trend
2. Mainstream opinion says "Yes" to SaaS
3. Software vendors stampede into SaaS
4. All is being virtualized
5. Explosion of Web APIs
6. Economic factors favor SaaS
7. Enterprise and SMB IT embraces SaaS
8. SaaS platforms proliferate (PaaS)

1. SaaS is just part of the web mega-trend
Most of us have witnessed and many of us have been a part of the transformation in the way goods and services have been digitized, virtualized, delivered and consumed. Software, the data behind that software and the functionality that software provides is no different - software is subject to the very same transformational forces.
Just think about how even a class of product that is natively digital - such as software - has been transformed in the way it is delivered and consumed. For prosperity's sake, I've still got a few of those ZX81 software cassettes stashed away somewhere, gathering dust, looking ever more antiquated with each passing year. How will today's mode of software delivery and use look to us in a few years from now?

The web wants to connect things, and that's interesting. But connecting and interacting with "live" data, information and remote functionality make things more interesting.
At the fundamental level, the web connects things. It connects people to people, businesses to businesses, and people to businesses. Since the early 90's, the web has enabled the connection of so many things to so many other things at an ever accelerating rate, and yet we crave even more connectivity. But we increasingly also want the ability to interact with those things.

And it is the nature of these connected things that have changed since the early internet. The early web was good at connecting to static views of information and accessing limited and rigid functional services, very much a read-only mode. Then, as we learned a) the ability to read more dynamic-type information - at least regularly updated, and b) access richer remote functionality, we created whole new opportunities for ourselves. Next, we grew our ability read and write against dynamic, near real-time data and information and to program against remote functionality to create a new class of web applications leveraging those capabilities - and hence a new order of business and experiential opportunities have emerged. Some label this as "Web 2.0".

At its essence, it is the "liveness" of these real-time read-write data, information and functional sources available as "always on" services and the increasing ease to connect to, interact with - specifically change those resources available as live, programmable services that allows us to create new value out of those resources, opening up brand new market opportunities for businesses and the compelling, rich "live" end-user experiences ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses and describes 'software as a service' (SAAS) and its application to business and information management. The response is written in an enthusiastic and informative tone that details the many benefits of SAAS and how it will be integrated into businesses in the future. Almost 3000 words total with 5 references and a few illustrative graphs.

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