With 2009 rapidly becoming the “Year of SaaS” and the tipping point for Cloud Computing, it’s hard not to notice the growing number of SaaS start ups (along with the legacy application vendors rushing to provide an “On-Demand”, but not really multi-tenant deployment option).  My snarky SaaS bigotry aside, we can expect hybrid deployment options to be here to stay.  As with the early days of on-premise packaged apps, we have to ask the question, “What to do about the risk in working with fly-by-night SaaS vendors who might not be around in 2011?”  In fact, this was an interesting part of the panel disucssion at the “Honeymoon and Divorce: Changing SaaS Providers” session at Interop with Jerry Smith (CTO of Symphony Services) , Michael Topalovich, (CTO of Delivered Innovation), and Rick Nucci (CTO of Boomi).

SaaS escrows provide a key safety net for the SaaS users

End users often demand software escrows in the on-premise world when they are concerned about vendor viability, takeover threats, and other related breaches to performance or service level agreements. Software escrows vendors serve as the trusted third party independent organization which holds a copy of the software code.  This often includes user data, source code, documentation and any application executables.  For SaaS escrows, expect a few unique distinctions such as:

  • More frequent intervals of version updates, almost similar to live data backups.
  • Hot backups that the end user can immediately and legally swap to the escrow version without business disruption
  • Requirements for SaaS vendors to provide detailed software configuration management and data management

The bottom line – SaaS code is rented so protect yourself

With no access to the code or application when a SaaS vendor goes bankrupt or fails to meet performance requirements, now’s the time to ask your SaaS provider if they provide a SaaS software escrow.  This should be included in all criteria during SaaS vendor selection.  Those who provide SaaS escrow deliver an additional benefit – peace of mind that data will be doubly backed up both by the vendor and the software escrow company.

Companies providing SaaS Escrow Services

Here’s a list of a few vendors in the market.  They have not been rated or reference checked so caveat emptor.  If you provide SaaS escrow services and weren’t listed, feel free to add a comment to the post.

For more about how to shape your apps strategy to include SaaS, read the Forrester Report found here.

Your POV

Have you worried about whether your SaaS vendor will be around in 2011?  Did you successfully enter into a SaaS Escrow agreement?  Considering a SaaS Escrow?  Send me a private email to rwang0 at gmail dot com.  Posts are preferred!   Thanks and looking forward to your POV!

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.