The SaaS appliance, how obvious!

I really like these two articles about the SaaS market and how it appears to embracing appliances as a ‘new form of delivery’. To me this isn’t that new, its also completely obvious ( i was kicking myself for not having thought of it).

Why obvious? Well i think that all in all the customers of technology have a range of requirements, that is they aren’t that black and white. That is different needs. Ok sounds good so far.

Unfortunately, most IT professionals are very black and white. That too makes sense, as ambiguity usually leads to problems.  To that end most of us subscribe wholly to one technology belief. SaaS, On-premise, SAP, .net. Windows, Linux etc etc etc you get the idea.

In fact for most people, their IT belief is like religion. Singular, and not overly tolerant of others (just my general observation).

Brining this back SaaS and the appliance. Most SaaS exponents a zealots for that particular mode of delivery, that works for some. This is critical, this kind of belief and passion are the only ways to shift the world.

Unfortunately there are others (the on-premise lot) who will never take SaaS due to various concerns like security and control.  BUT the honest amongst this group will admit that some aspects of SaaS are highly attractive, like updates etc.

Enter the appliance. If done properly its is the perfect hybrid of both approaches. Surely this will have mass appeal? Well, in my opinion no. It will just appeal to another segment of the market who’s needs (their particular religion) mean that it’s a good fit.

If i’ve written this properly, you should by now have had a bit of déjà vu. That’s because this is just another example of history repeating itself in the IT industry. Bureau versus distributed desktop. Mainframe desktop (o and then you had the work group server = the appliance). Centralised back up, distributed back up, the onsite backup….  For this reason, the appliance play in SaaS should’ve been blindingly obvious …doh!

Video conferencing : truely a dinasaur

What a debacle

I’ve just gotten off a video conference using ISDN and Polycomm equipment. Talk about a  technology that should be killed off. Its amazing to me that it still exists in a world of presence, IM video and application sharing.

Because someone had disconnected all the equipment when i arrived i was exposed to the full complexity of this “service”. Added that, the clunky user experience and the flaky voice quality on the other end it was all in all appalling experience. 

Having used MSN messenger and office communicator as extensively as i could have over the last year I found the whole experience to be massively complicated and unsatisfactory. I wanted to draw pictures, i wanted to adjust the sound volume, i wanted to connect on time, not 10 minutes later.

For me the most profound insight into the process was how web 2.0 has revolutionised the user experience. That is designing solutions FOR consumers that gives power back to them. After this morning, long may it continue.

The question for me is how can such a kak technology survive? I mean who in their right mind would buy this in this day and age? I would suggest that ignorance of a better world plays a big part in that. I’d also suggest that Telco’s are equally to blame, touting such tired value propositions as network quality in their sell. This is the classic disruption to me.  New worlds here, thank god for that.


When things go wrong

For about and hour this morning, Google reader wasn’t working properly. I’m surprised to that techmeme hasn’t picked this up. I don’t know how many subscribers google reader has but “half” would still be a lot of people by my finger in the air estimation and it seems that no one thinks it blog worthy!

The feed reader just didn’t work the way it should have. In fact in a really scary way (you know, the type of scary when you just hit “yes” when prompted with the “are you sure you want to delete), there was just no feeds.  I immediately thought , “hell i’ve got no recent backup of me feeds”, my fault to be sure. But when you think about the time and effort it takes to build up a feed list that was quite an appalling thought.  

This all points to a couple of the major drawbacks of SaaS. The first issues is availability, it was just plain annoying that in my allotted reader time, i couldn’t do it (incidentally i can’t get the Google gears offline app to work either). I was going to bang on about this particular topic more, but have been subjected to some downtime in our inhouse SAP system, for longer than an hour so really the point is moot. Systems go down.   

The more gut wrenching issue for me is the leap of faith required to be certain that the provider isn’t going to loose your data. Now Google says

“the good news is that no data was actually lost, it was just temporarily inaccessible. Google's systems store data redundantly to minimize the chance of anything becoming permanently lost.”

And i guess in my case that’s true. Kudos to them, they look to have the infrastructure and processes in place to be able to minimise (but not eliminate) my fears.  

Stunning and scary

Also quite exciting. I feel like we are on the cusp of something tremendous in the software or no software market. It will take the might of a Google to pull it off and make it mainstream, but i think the next 18 months will see an enormous amount of traction in the SaaS market place.

Why the provocative title? Well i found this link to the Companies that Google has acquired in the last 12 months.  Firstly it is stunning. It’s a stunning amount of money, but more importantly it is a stunning insight into an audacious two pronged strategy being implemented. Clearly Advertising is key to Google. I know most people think they are a search company but i challenge that. I think the are a media company first and foremost.  The is clearly born out in the very large aquistions on this item.

Secondly though is the way they are quietly aggregate SaaS tools together.Some of them are clearly gimmicy at the moment, tailored to the consumer audience, Some are more business oriented and play right into the Google Applications play. At a recent seminar i attended, Google said that this business was currently a USD$100m business. WOW. That probably puts them in the top 10 SaaS vendors already, without really trying. You keep adding services to that, plus the charging of premium that revenue is soon to sky rocket.  You add both content and applications with a mobile focus which Google has been playing around with for a while and that’s a unique proposition. I like that Google gets the SaaS market!

The bit that’s scary for me is just how much information Google now has about what everyone does on the web. They know what you search for, what the stats are on you’re website. What RSS content you subscribe too…. A lot of stuff. Now if this was MS or even the NSA people would be pretty fired up about it. But for a few people who’ve commented on it most people trust Google. They’ve got the brand, they’re the good guys….. its still hellishly scary though just how much one company knows about the web. 

Must make their acquisitions so much easier tho wouldn’t you think?