I stand corrected. In the face of a good deal of logic from “the other Ben”, Bob Warfield and Ben Kepes I am going to amend my position. Using the age old wisdom that things are what they usually appear to be, then managed appliances are just that, managed appliances and SaaS is completely different.
I do think that globally we need to agree to some fundamental traits for SaaS to be SaaS,
- The application sits in some sort of cloud – normally the internet, but can be a private cloud
- It is multi-tenanted
- It requires no / minimal onsite configuration
- Bills on some sort of user pays or subscription model.
If this is the definition, then we can rule out appliances as SaaS. The bits that the appliance model misses from my view of best of breed SaaS plays are some sort of development platform, the reach associated with the cloud and the full blown centralised management that SaaS provides, and of course the hype.
I do hold to the view appliance based models are viable business models. As Bob suggests they are a step of from Legacy Software Vendors (LSV’s), and that’s got to be valuable. They can in fact deliver some of the benefits of SaaS, which is why I held my previous view.
The appliance can be a staging environment for the application allowing for centralised updates to occur (that is remove multiple versions). Appliances allow for a subscription based model, especially if they lease the kit out to. The support can also be done centrally, that is you are buying the outcome.