Posts Tagged ‘OpSource’

Research Report: Microsoft Partners – Before Adopting Azure, Understand the 12 Benefits And Risks

It’s All About The Cloud At WPC10

Attendees at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 in Washington, D.C. already expect Windows Azure development to be a key theme throughout this annual pilgrimage.  Microsoft has made significant investments into the cloud.   Many executives from the Redmond, WA, software giant have publicly stated that 90% of its development will be focused on the Cloud by 2012.  Delivery of the Cloud begins with the Azure platform which includes three main offerings:

  1. Microsoft Windows Azure
  2. Microsoft SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services)
  3. Microsoft Windows Azure Platform: AppFabric (formerly .NET Services).

Therefore, Microsoft partners must determine their strategy based on what part of the cloud they plan to compete in and which Azure services to leverage.  As with any cloud platform, the four layers include infrastructure, orchestration, creation, and consumption (see Figure 1):

  • Infrastructure. At a minimum, Windows Azure provides the infrastructure as a service.  Data center investments and the related capital expense (capex) is replace with oeprational expenses (opex).  Most partners will take advantage of Azure at the infrastructure level or consider alternatives such as Amazon EC2 or even self provision hosting on partner servers and hardware.
  • Orchestration. Microsoft Windows Azure Platform: AppFabric delivers the key “middleware” layers.  AppFabric includes an enterprise service bus to connect across network and organizational boundaries.  AppFabric also delivers access control security for federated authorization.  Most partners will leverage these PaaS tools.  However, non-Microsoft tools could include advanced SaaS integration, complex event processing, business process management, and richer BI tools.  The Windows AppFabric July release now supports Adobe Flash and Microsoft SilverLight.
  • Creation. Most partners will build solutions via VisualStudio and Microsoft SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services).  Other creation tools could include Windows Phone7 and even Java.  Most partners expect to use the majority of tools from Microsoft and augment with third party solutions as needed.
  • Consumption. Here’s where partners will create value added solutions for sale to customers.  Partners must build applications that create market driven differentiators.  For most partners, the value added solutions in the consumption layer will provide the highest margin and return on investment (ROI).

.NET:.NET (tongue and cheek here) – Microsoft partners and developers can transfer existing skill sets and move to the cloud with ease, once Microsoft irons out the business model for partners on Azure.

Figure 1. Partners Must Determine Which Layer To Place Strategic Bets

screen-shot-2010-03-22-at-105927-pm

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Research Report: How SaaS Adoption Trends Show New Shifts In Technology Purchasing Power

SaaS Adoption Surveys Often Overlook Audience Composition

Over the past year, analyst firms, tech media, and even mainstream business media have happily showcased positive news about SaaS adoption.  The common theme remains clear – SaaS adoption moves beyond the tipping point in 2010.  Cloud adoption will reach a tipping point in the next 12 months.  All this bodes well for customers and SaaS providers as organizations now embrace SaaS as an acceptable deployment option in their apps strategy.  Unfortunately, recent SaaS/Cloud adoption surveys continue to provide confusing and sometimes contradictory data about adoption.  Close examination of these surveys reveal that not all adoption surveys are equally created.  The unspoken question, who’s answering the surveys?

SaaS Decision Making Firmly In The Hands Of The Business Buyer

Anecdotally, business users drive SaaS decisions, while IT leaders remain skeptical.  To validate this hypothesis, Software Insider conducted a quick survey of 100 Global 2000 organizations.  Starting with the most senior IT leaders, the question was posed, “Are you using SaaS in your organization for major business processes?” (see Figure 1).  Of the 46 organizations who responded, the procurement leaders were then asked the same question (see Figure 2).  After comparing survey results, the following conclusions emerged:

  • IT leaders aware but hesitant on SaaS adoption. A little under a quarter of IT leaders (23.91% or 11/46) responded that they were using SaaS applications.  Key applications deployed include CRM, strategic HCM, expense management and project based solutions (PBS).  Delving deeper into these verbal and in-person interviews highlighted a desire to learn more about SaaS.  As one CIO at a major food and beverage concern stated, “The business heads keep showing up with these SaaS apps and then want us to integrate them.  We need to get a handle on all this!”  Key concerns included, “I don’t know if we can integrate all this in the future”, responded the CIO of a large Fortune 500 retailer and “I think we need better governance and security”, remarked the Director of Enterprise Apps for a Top 25 banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) entity.
  • Procurement leaders reveal surprising adoption by business leaders en masse for SaaS solutions. Conversations with the procurement managers highlight how business users have taken matters into their own hands.  Every one of the surveyed organizations (100% or 46/46) had an existing SaaS contract, contradicting the IT leaders who did not respond that they ran SaaS solutions.  In fact – these contracts ranged from five seat deals to 2000 seats at one organization.  As the procurement head at a large professional services firm indicated, “The teams will buy whatever they need now.  IT has no clue!”.  “Business has to go around IT because they are too busy keeping the lights on”, retorted a procurement manager at a global 10 pharma.  A procurement manager for a large multi-national manufacturer stated, “Our main issue with SaaS is finding enough solutions that will support our needs.”
  • Business leaders take charge but fail to communicate with IT leaders.  The key finding – lack of coordination among business, IT, and procurement.   Amazingly, the 35 IT leaders who stated they did not run SaaS apps for major business processes still may not know about the CRM, HCM, Project Based Solutions, and Finances deployments in their organization.  When some of them were shown the results, these leaders expressed amazement and surprise.  Organizations should be alarmed but not surprised by this lack of coordination between business and IT.

Figure 1.  IT Leader Responses Show Muted Adoption

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Tuesday’s Tip: 10 Cloud and SaaS Apps Strategies For 2010

Keep In Mind Basic Rules Still Apply Regardless Of Deployment Option

The proliferation of SaaS solutions provides organizations with a myriad of sorely needed point and disruptive solutions.  Good news – business users can rapidly procure and deploy, while innovating with minimal budget and IT team constraints.  Bad news – users must depend more on their SLA guarantees and deal with a potential integration nightmare of hundreds if not thousands of potential SaaS apps.  Though the 7 key benefits of SaaS outweigh most downside risks, organizations must design their SaaS apps strategies with the same rigor as any apps strategy.  Just because deployment options have changed, this does not mean basic apps strategy is thrown out the window.  Concepts such as SOA, business process orchestration, and enterprise architecture will be more important than ever.  Here are 10 strategies to consider as organizations take SaaS mainstream:

  1. Begin with the business process and desired business value. Understand the desired business value and outcome.  Map back the key performance indicators (KPI’s) to the business processes. Identify what processes will be covered by the SaaS solution.  Determine overlaps and hand-offs between on-premise and SaaS to SaaS that are required to measure the desired KPI’s.
  2. Engage stakeholders early and often. Today’s apps strategies must constantly evolve. Change is happening so fast that line of business leads and IT leaders must collaborate in real time.  The result – an ever changing list of requirements.  While SaaS allows business leaders to make go-it-alone decisions, success will require close collaboration on short term and long term requirements, dependencies, and strategy.
  3. Bet on future suites, SaaS platforms or PaaS (Platform-as-a-service). Winners and losers will emerge in this wave of Cloud computing.  Vendors such as Netsuite, Workday, Zoho, Epicor, and SAP have built or will be building suites.  They provide safe bets as more and more functionality will be rolled into their offerings. Concurrently, organizations should also choose vendors who bring a vibrant and rich ecosystem to the table because those vendors will win in the market.  Salesforce.com and NetSuite already provide users with a platform to build on apps.  Other vendors such as as Google Apps Engine, Microsoft Azure, IBM, and Zoho provide rich developer communities.  Partner and customers will drive innovation which is why platform adoption (i.e. today’s middleware) makes a difference.
  4. Augment with best of breeds, but avoid best of breed hell. No one platform can provide every solution, but choose wisely.  Best of breeds provide deep vertical capabilities and rich last mile solutions.  However, no one wants to manage hundreds of vendor relationships.  Create frameworks that allow business users to work with vendors which support open standards, integrate well with your existing integration strategies, and follow the bill of rights.   Reduction in the number of vendors will become a priority in 2010 going on into 2011.
  5. Assume hybrid will be the rule not the exception. Prepare for hybrid deployments throughout the decade.  Despite the benefits of SaaS and broad adoption in 2010, legacy apps will not go away.  Just count the number of mainframe and client-server apps still in use today.  Many on-premise apps will take time to migrate to SaaS. In some cases, legal requirements will prevent data from being stored off-site.  Software plus services offerings from companies such as Infor, Lawson, Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP may become the norm in 2010 as companies seek private and public cloud solutions.
  6. Design with good architecture. Keep your enterprise architects (EA’s) or hire some more.  Inevitably, more and more SaaS solutions will enter the organization.  EA’s will proactively plan for new scenarios and account for future business requirements.  Organizations should keep some rigor in terms of standards for solution adoption while accounting for the need to rapidly innovate.  Business leaders will need some frameworks on which solutions to adopt.
  7. Choose the right integration strategy for the right time. SaaS integration strategies will evolve based on the organization’s SaaS adoption maturity.  The first set of solutions will probably require point to point integration of data.  Over time, users often migrate to centralized integration services that account for process.  Some will go full enterprise service bus (ESB) and look at business process orchestration as well.  Consider solutions from CastIron, Boomi, Pervasive Software, Informatica, and SnapLogic.  Going forward customer data integration and master data management will be more important than ever.
  8. Minimize long-term storage costs with archiving. Storage represents a significant long term SaaS cost.  Savvy clients can reduce the cost of SaaS storage with a myriad of technologies such as EMC, IBM Optim, and RainStor.  By archiving, organizations will experience faster transaction times, maintain compliance, and reduce storage fees.
  9. Hedge risk with SaaS escrows. Most SaaS vendors will require 5 to 7 years to achieve profitability.  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. SaaS escrows work in a similar way.  Vendors such as EscrowTech, InnovaSafe, Iron Mountain, NCC Group. and OpSource can provide such services.
  10. Protect your rights. Client – vendor relationships in SaaS are perpetual.  Organizations have one shot to get the contract right and begin the relationship with the right tenor.  Apply best practices from The Customer Bill of Rights: SaaS. Work with vendors to find the right balance in approach.

The Bottom Line For Customers – Build Frameworks That Support Easy Line Of Business Adoption

The broad adoption and trajectory of SaaS solutions requires organizations to rapidly replace edicts and 5 year plans with guidelines and policy frameworks.  The goal – enable anyone in the organization to procure a SaaS solution that meets key guidelines and standards.  The result – flexibility, security, and scalability that allows solutions to be used on-demand and in concert with existing applications.

Your POV.

As you work out your SaaS apps strategies, drop us a line and let us know how you are deploying, what challenges you’ve faced, and what successes have you achieved.  We’re happy to weigh in.  Feel free to post your comments here or send me an email at rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwareinsider dot org.

Copyright © 2009 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.

Tuesday’s Tip: Now’s The Time To Consider SaaS Software Escrows

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.