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The SaaS-querade by On-premise Software Vendors

Posted 04-26-2010 at 12:23 PM by Albert Fong

Lately, many of you have seen the announcements by traditional on-premise companies touting their SaaS and PaaS products. Of course, those of us who work in the tech industry know much of this is marketing spin. What they're promoting as SaaS is really just re-packaged, non-multitenant enterprise offerings that will likely saddle customers with costly applications. For customers, educating yourself about what SaaS is not only makes you smarter but can significantly save you money.

ZDNet published an interesting online article that coins a new term for all of this: SaaS-querade. What do you need to know about true SaaS? Let's start with the obvious—any traditional on-premise enterprise software company that has suddenly turned to the SaaS side should be a red flag. Unless that company has acquired a SaaS company, built a SaaS development team, or more importantly has referenceable SaaS customers, you should be weary. What you likely have is enterprise software hiding in sheep's clothing.

On the technology front, several key points are worth mentioning for SaaS
  • Core to any true SaaS offering is multi-tenancy. A hosted offering alone is not SaaS, and the lack of multi-tenancy takes away the cost benefits of a true SaaS offering. Ask any of these on-premise vendors and chances are their SaaS offering is not multi-tenant.
  • Workflow management capabilities and SOA are not PaaS. While SOA enables integration and workflow tools allow for altering workflows with other on-premise applications, neither allow you to build entirely new applications.
  • Because the technical architectures of SaaS and on-premise are fundamentally different, the so-called SaaS applications from on-premise vendors that are supposed to be extensions or bolt-ons to their on-premise applications are inaccurate at best.
SaaS applications aren't ideal for every organization, but the same can said for on-premise software. But if your organization is considering SaaS, make sure you're getting what you pay for. The on-premise vendors are confusing the marketplace with misinformation that will eventually cost customers, which isn't good for anyone.

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