A lot of SaaS proponents take great pride in distinguishing the new Software as a Service era from the hosted applications or ASP model - and insist that there is only one right way of doing SaaS. This is in direct contrast to what I am seeing a lot of ISVs do in real life - which is, adopt a range of delivery model options to fit the customers need and economics of their particular business. But, every time an established software company talks about its success in SaaS by pointing to the wide range of options in the SaaS business, the SaaS purists go up in arms. This would be perfectly fine if their definition of SaaS was consistent when it came to only including shared everything multi-tenant services with its much hyped poster child Salesforce.
The problem is that when they tout the growth and size of SaaS and its wide adoption, they refer to billions of dollars in revenue which includes all variations of SaaS.
So here is my point - either go with a "purist" SaaS definition and accept SaaS as a relatively small niche market today with limited adoption or expand your definition to include different SaaS models. Don't mix and match.
- Stuart Launchlan on Oracle & SaaS
- Phil Wainewright on Oracle & SaaS (SaaS momentum)
- Vinnie Mirchandani on Charles Phillips and SAP
- Dennis Howlett on SaaS momentum
Mukund makes an excellent point in the comments that multi-tenant model of SaaS delivery is a preferred architecture - and I agree that it is, for many applications. I don't argue in my rant that multi-tenancy is unimportant or irrelevant- in fact, quite the contrary, I am of the opinion that it is the most suitable model for many ISVs and has several architectural and business beneefits. My argument is with the attempt to restrict the definition of SaaS to only one model and yet continue to conveniently include other models when it helps SaaS puritanism proponents make their point.
Update 2:The post has elicited a series of responses. Phil Wainewright asks "So who exactly is trying to have it both ways?" in his post on ZDNet and argues against my viewpoint - even though I think that he and I agree on a lot of things as I mention in my comment on his blog including the importance of multi-tenancy. Bob Warfield doesn't take sides but points to what he considers the more important issue of economics (than architecture) . Sinclair Schuller follows up with his post asking Are there REALLY multiple strategies for SaaS ISVs?
This is turning out to be pretty interesting conversation. What do you think about the so called purist vs. realist SaaS debate? Do you think that there is only one true blue SaaS architecture that qualifes as SaaS?