Is SaaS more than just the app?

I’ve been thinking a bit about the trends going in the SaaS world and I can’t help thinking that we are all missing a trick or two.

Firstly lets get the rough tends out of the way.1) SaaS is becoming more mainstream and is being adopted all along the company sire continuum. 2) platforms and PasS are increasingly important. 3) Big players in software and Telco are moving into this space. 4) SOA isn’t separate but intrinsic to SaaS 5) market consolidation

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My problem is that all of this activity is focused on the application or platform. The picture above is from Force.com and is a great example, Apprenda another. This focus doesn’t actually take into account the end user experience. It also doesn’t give the user any service level guarantee’s.

In this second diagram I’ve painted a simple picture of all of the elements involved in the end user experience (and by proxy their satisfaction with SaaS). You will notice a whole lotta real-estate between the platform and the end user which is unmanaged. What is the point of a five 9’s datacentre and platform if the net is down, the router on the fritz or there’s an issue with the end device.

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To my mind a good SaaS provider should be interested in this additional real-estate. It represents a space that If MANAGED could be a point of differentiation. A way to get the mass of the adoption curve past their current hurdles and a way to provide businesses (who are putting up mission critical information into the cloud) some sort of SLA (and by association reassurance). It also represents the next evolution of maturity in the SaaS model, SLA’s. Its because of this that I think the increasing involvement of ICT businesses (typically Telco’s who are playing in IT ) in SaaS is of massive importance. It seems to me that they alone can put all these bits together and hence provide the SLA’s that must eventuate.

Thoughts? 

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