SaaS: naming, paradigm shift, value

This week I had a discussion in the private lists around the "Software as a Service" wording. We agreed with Santos Ray Victorero that SaaS is not the most representative name for what it means.
Here is one of my responses:

I do not like it either, but, hey, is not the first time we disagree with naming big things...

Anyway, better than analyze naming, I would go through the key areas involved in Software as a Service.

What SaaS enables?

  • leverage massive economy of scale by sharing the infrastructure among tenants
  • catch the long tail of the market

My father runs a shop. Buying a full blown server with SQL 2005 and Windows 2003 to run his software is not what he wants. Not only for the money, but he don't want problems mantaining both infrastructure and software. However, he needs software that just works. So this is the value proposition of SaaS. Application development costs are shared, the "enterprise grade" application can be offered to very small businesses as well.

So, if we are talking about the next big programming language, SaaS is not that guy. However, this is a social paradigm shift in terms of software delivery. As more people realize about the value around this model, more applications will be developed to fulfill their needs. That means that more tooling, guidance, abstractions, etc. software companies like Microsoft will deliver. And we as architect/developers will start writing this kind of applications sooner or later. is the emblema of SaaS nowadays. They are on the CRM arena. Microsoft with their * Live stuff is heading that way as Ozzie points out in his memo "Services Disruption".

It's late now to change this name because it's in CIO's minds. But let's make the effort to explain this concept clearly!

Published: June 17 2006

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