With SaaS, progress means giving more for less.

Date: January 12, 2010

The model-T Ford gave the world a reliable car for $295 whereas its cheapest rival cost nearly $3,000; it was also better quality and more reliable than most of its competitors. That is because the manufacturing process that made it possible to build cars more cheaply also forced cars to be built better as a necessary part of the process.

The same is true of Software as a Service or SaaS. Because the supplier of the SaaS product should only have one version online at a time, the complexities of support are greatly reduced. One of the problems we experienced when we distributed “installed” software (i.e. the client installed it on their own servers) was that with success came problems. We call it the “Software Grid of Death” a suitably dramatic techy term for the fact that as time passes different versions proliferate.

We had a variety of products clients could choose and when you considered all the permutations of our products, the different versions of each and the client environment where they were installed, it swiftly become clear that each and every installation was effectively unique in some way. The versions were of course very similar, but our support staff had to keep tabs of each version of each product and any patches or service releases sent. Our service team also needed to negotiate with the client’s IT team when an upgrade could happen, what version they should take and agree testing times. All this hampered development as the development team had to update multiple versions when fixing bugs or introducing new functionality. Each version then needed to be tested separately greatly increasing QA time. For our clients, all this resulted in fewer releases per year, slower response times, slower development and poorer service.

With SaaS there is no grid of death, mostly because clients are constantly being upgraded with small, modular improvements. Should anything go wrong with a release, it can be easily rolled back. This means that all clients have the same problems and the same solutions. A fix for one is a fix for all. Because there is a unique release, there is no requirement for backwards compatibility. This means that the development team can focus on development and innovation far more than before. SaaS also improves response times for support as it is online and so a user can report an incident immediately.

The result is that SaaS clients get a significantly better support service and this will be true for all types of applications across all industries, not just our niche.

SaaS will not cure all ills, but it is a very significant advance for businesses. We want our clients to be able to get a better quality service for less money. We want to broaden the appeal of our products to a wider audience and the only way we can achieve these objectives is through SaaS. To use an old cliché we will succeed if we help our clients succeed.

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