We are living in "on demand" times in office, at home and just about anywhere. The philosophy is simple, dump the extra baggage. Just demand it and we have it.
Of Good Ol' Times
Knowledge has been the air literally for sometime and just a good internet connection and you could access it all. Combine that with a great business strategy and you could easily be on your way to ruling your own little empire. However, the problem was in running the empire. In digital times organizations require softwares, applications and much more which entailed huge infrastructure costs. So effectively if you wanted a good ERP solution or a good sales management solution you either had to be a blue blooded corporate hunk or someone who didn't mind burning a few millions. Says George Hu from Salesforce "Consumers have been enjoying Web 2.0 features like voting and social networking on consumer web applications like Digg and Facebook for years. But traditional enterprise applications are still stuck in the '90s"
Saas - The new way of computing
The change came soon with software as a service, Saas. Quite simply it meant when an organization needed an ERP solution or a sales management solution, it needed just that and not the extras like personnel costs, infrastructure costs, setting up servers and other things. The working of SaaS is simple. The company doesn't pay anything for owning the software. There is no hardware, no server, no professional costs even. All that is required is just a simple subscription. The software provider is responsible for its availability, maintenance, scalability, disaster recovery and others.
The Who's Who
Name the biggest softwares giants and they gave gone the Saas way. Microsoft calls it Software + Service, Oracle calls it On-Demand and other by different names. The crux of it all is in software as a service. A perfect win-win equation between the service provider and the user.
Interestingly one of the first pioneers of the Saas model is Salesforce even before it was known by that name. SaaS has its roots in the ASP model (application service provider) of 2000-1 in terms running a turnkey application on behalf of their clients. As a concept it's only in March 2005 that SaaS got recognition. Salesforce got it right almost 8 years ago and today has almost 44,000 customers as Steve Russel, CE0 APAC, Salesforce says "Companies of all sizes can now have full access to innovative technologies that will help them thrive in today's competitive market"
Consider this an ERP implementation 5 years ago started from almost Rs.5-7 lacs. Today at less Rs.20,000 per seat the same ERP solution can be implemented.
Saas in India
Last year tech giant Microsoft India and worldwide ERP leader SAP labs launched their Saas initiative in India. Sushant Dwivedy from Microsoft says "At Microsoft we understand that organizations are seeking affordable business solutions whic could provide them with the flexibility needed to cease new business opportunities and operationalize this quickly." That the Indian market is on high growth in the Saas field is something reiterated by Salesforce.com's Steve Russel who is bullish on the Indian market. Says he, "The Indian SaaS market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 77 percent from 2006 to 2010, to reach US $165 million by 2010. A buoyant Indian economy, driven by rising domestic consumption and exports, expanding broadband infrastructure, and increased internet penetration, makes India an ideal market for SaaS applications."
The Last Word
Technology and time never wait for anybody. Did I read it somewhere or I made it up I am not sure? But I am sure that cloud computing is only getting bigger. Thin is in and last month I bought myself a zero (well almost zero) application thin client weighing less than 0.75 kgs and I access all my programs including my operating system remotely and I use to do everything that my old dual core high end laptop weighing an enormous 3.5 kgs did. This 0.75kg laptop is capable of managing payrolls, sales, accessing just about anything which one can imagine simply by outsourcing all the unnecessary infrastructure, computing and applications to the service provider. That's the power of software as a service.
Puneet Mehrotra writes on technology www.cyberzest.com