Software plus Services [S+S] vs Software as a Services [SaaS] "The Battle"

Just finished creating a SharePoint site for some international collaboration work and meanwhile Google launches Google Sites.

googelsites

Not that I'm thinking to switch to Google sites. But it's getting more and more interesting what's happening in the Cloud. On one hand we've got S+S, some services in the cloud and some services on-premise, and on the other hand you got SaaS, everything in the cloud.

Not that exciting. Although, when you start reading all the comments people make why they want to use on thing over the other, it's getting interesting.

For example a post from Phil Wainewright called Microsoft’s software-plus-Yahoo! play where he uses the old "Microsoft buys everything" ideas around services.

A short summery of his post: Yahoo is 2.0 Microsoft isn't, so they want buy 2.0.

Pretty boring argument, but it triggered Gianpaolo to give a reaction in his blog with a post called "S+S: Real or have I drunk too much Kool-Aid? :)". The example he uses to persuade the reader that S+S is real, Office with Office Live, isn't that exciting... but, it's a nice discussion.

officelive

Some statements from both posts:

Gianpaolo:

  1. Office is far superior to any web based productivity tools.
  2. The problem with Office was collaboration and anywhere access
  3. Having the back end as a hosted solution is very good.
  4. No hassles in term of installation, data backup etc.

But as far as user interaction is concern, I am a big believer in bringing it as close to the user as possible.
Why would I ever want the cloud between me and my work?
I believe in S+S because when done properly it is far superior to a 'cloud-only' SaaS model.

So, Gianpaolo's reason to take S+S over SaaS is productivity although he also recognizes the pros behind a hosted solution in terms of installation and backup's

Phil Wainewright:

    1. They’re still going to have to buy software
    2. Now that the Web exists, the easiest way to get those services is to click a link and let someone else run the software
    3. ‘Lots more software, but we’ll take care of it for you.’

Phil, mentioned the pros behind hosted solutions and the money it costs to buy Office.

This posting and counter posting continuous with two more post where Phil mentions the offline web, Adobe AIR and Google Gears, for bringing the cloud to your laptop... to get offline capabilities with SaaS. Gianpaolo uses a more interesting example then the Office example in this post.

There are plenty of others, specially in the enterprise where data ownership, regulatory compliance etc. are big decision factors.

So, we've got a start for some kind of a list.

Software plus Services Software as a Service
Productivity Installation
Usability Data Backup
Data Ownership Shared Working
Regulatory Compliance  
some other enterprise concerns...  
   

 

Let's continue, with the Sites.Google blogposts this week and all their comments.

First an impressive article "Why Google Apps Could Lose the Enterprise Market" [to long to call it a blogpost] by Sarah Perez.
The article continues where Gianpaolo stopped mentioning reasons for the enterprise.

A pro for SaaS [ Sites.Google == SaaS ] workers can set up a site 'without having to burden IT for support'. The main idea behind this; end-users can use what ever kind of tool they like out-of-the-Cloud to do there work. No more contact with the IT department, no more maintenance, etc pretty interesting but there are some drawbacks. Shara mentions five: Functionality, Security, Terms of Service, ROI, Shrugs Shoulders.

Functionality, actually the same as usability and productivity.
Security,

Although users may see IT as gatekeepers preventing them from being able to do their jobs, turning that control over to Google instead may not be a better solution.

Compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations

It would be comforting to have an SLA that covered the entire suite

Terms of Service, this is interesting reading, I didn't know it but in the Google TOS has this:

Sentecne This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services

ROI, I don't understand the argumentation around this topic in the article.

Shrugs Shoulders, this is a nice example what can happen when you give control away, you have to pay to get it back.

So they only way to control employee access is to sign up for the program? If that wasn't such genius, I might actually call it...well, evil.

Anyway, lets look at the comments...

Blah. And just when companies are starting to get used to their employees having blogs, we now have this new battle to fight.

The way I see it, if IT departments were doing their jobs (and some are) there would be no need to be having this discussion.

Reminds me of the PC vs. Mainframe arguments in the early eighties. It will be interesting to re-visit this issue in 20 years.

Because just as data is important to Google, it is also important to those companies. Not all innovative uses of information technology goes on in Silicon Valley, businesses are implementing more advanced distributed applications and architectures in order to have the data where it is needed when it is needed

Solve that nagging problem of control, create some sort of hosting service that could be configured and monitored by corporate IT professionals

Any time you upgrade to a newer version you need to build again most of the old intranet sites.

Enhough quoting...
let's add some points to the table

Software plus Services Software as a Service
Productivity Installation
Usability Data Backup
Data Ownership Shared Working
Regulatory Compliance Self Servicing End-Users
some other enterprise concerns... No Upgrading Issues
In Control  
Existing Architectures  
SLA  

 

One thing I'm missing is the online-offline capabilities of S+S, or can you count that under Productivity and Usability. I use Sharepoint allot, but always even on the Wiki pages, I attach a Groove workspace to it, just to keep on working while I'm offline. When I'm on a plane I can keep on working, next week I'm on vacation and not sure the hotel has Internet access [Yeah I work during vacations] So, offline capabilities are very important for me.

I think that also counts for people working at the office, there are enough examples of services which stopped working [Microsoft Windows Live Services Suffer Global Outage, Salesforce.com crashes again, Thread: Massive (500) Internal Server Error.outage started 35 minutes ago] and when you depend on them as an enterprise it will cost a lot of money. At that moment the difference between working offline with outdated data and not working at all  is a big difference between S+S and SaaS.

In conjunction with that, the SLA. The SLA story behind SaaS applications is a bit tricky. Who do you give control over your business and your business data? someone you trust! to bad, trust isn't business vocabulary. I never heard a customer saying to me "I trust on your bleu eyes that you will finish that project in time in budget". So, there are different kind of agreements. Amazon pays money when they don't fulfill the SLA they offer and Salesforce.com tries to get trusted by the customer to show them there uptime. Sounds al great, but they don't take in to account something like a cable break [Mediterranean Cable Break].

 cablemap5

So, trust and SLA's are nice to have offline capabilities are a must have..!

[ this journey will continue, the post is getting bigger and bigger and no ended  yet... so, I will proceed after my vacation. Probably during my vacation, I got offline capability with Live Writer for postings ]

The other posts and comments I planned to use:

Google Sites: What's all the fuss? <-- got a great comment: "where can I download Google sites"

It Took 16 Months, But Google Relaunches Jotspot <-- interesting thing about Services out of the Cloud, what happens when a Service Providers is bought by an other company. It happens ;-)

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