Fujitsu just presented SaaSification on Cebit. Existing applications can be easily brought to the Cloud and sold via App Stores and SaaS marketplaces. IBM is also working on SaaSification and even adds multi-tenancy.
What is next?
Everybody wants to have a full App Store or SaaS Marketplace, so SaaSification is the next step after launching your store. However converting a client/server application to the Cloud is only step 1. Step 2 is creating new services that are specifically built for the Cloud.
What does Built-for-the-Cloud means?
Cloud-Ready applications should also accept the new reality of APIs. Both for exposure as well as consumption. This means that applications need to be redesigned according to application slices.
So if SaaSification wants to be successful then it needs to add quick enablers for multi-tenancy, big data, integration with external APIs as well as API exposure, etc. This integration concept can be called iPaaS or integration platform-as-a-Service. iPaaS should not only focus on exposing or integrating APIs but on providing complex services by integration multiple SaaS solutions together.
Other enablers should be added as well. Basically 80% of a SaaS solution consists out of the same elements or tries to solve the same problems. These could all be provided via a SaaSification PaaS:
- Blog – to describe the newest ideas.
- Forum – for people to get answers from the community.
- IT PaaS – where you run the actual business logic and UI. Data storage is assumed to be provided by the Big Data elements.
- Portal and Mobile Portal – allows to quickly define the “static” content for the web and mobile site.
- Deployment management – ideally continuous deployment or integration tools that allow fast feature by feature deployment.
- A/B testing – allow new features to be deployed to subsets of users and check which version of a feature has the highest impact on the bottom-line. A/B testing was made popular by Amazon.
- Automated testing – lots of testing can be automated but especially end-to-end and performance testing are the harder tests that should be focused on.
- Configuration management – manage the version control of the code.
- Metering and billing – be able to meter the resource usage by users, companies or any other element you want to meter and be able to bill users both for subscriptions as well as for usage, ideally with advanced set-up with overage, etc.
- Marketplace listing and provisioning – automate the listing of products on the marketplace as well as the provisioning of new services.
- Single sign-on & identity management - allow companies to use their own user credentials (e.g. SAML), authorization for third-parties (e.g. oAuth), etc.
- Reporting and data warehousing – this can be part of the big data stack but especially being able to create ad-hoc reports for instance for A/B testing . Of course regular business reporting needs to be included as well.
- ERP – accounting, resource management, etc.
- CRM – sales and lead management
- Operations & Maintenance – automation of back-ups, monitoring both for the performance and fault management but as well business monitoring.
- Support – helpdesk, ticketing system, SLA management, etc.
- Social integration – tools to add social aspects like Facebook apps, Twitter feeds, etc.
The idea is not that a SaaSification PaaS offers all these solutions by custom development. Instead the SaaSification PaaS should allow startups to assemble an ideal architecture by combining different solutions from different providers. For example you would be able to select the support solution you prefer, e.g. desk.com, zendesk.com, etc. and this solution would be completely integrated into the overall stack, e.g. CRM integration with help desk and fault management together with sign sign-on.
SaaSification 2.0 should focus on making sure that 2-5 people can start a new dotcom solution and focus on creating a killer service and not on building up yet another stack of solutions for configuration management, support, billing, etc. If a SaaSification PaaS can shorten the time to launch with months and reduce the needs to operate the solution with several people then startups will see the value. Instead of SaaSification PaaS a good term could be Incubation PaaS, to incubate SaaS solutions. Once the business model and solution is proven, there will be money to move to a custom-build stack but during incubation and crossing-the-chasm enterpreneurs should be able to focus on delivering value to their customers and not on re-inventing the startup wheel.
Cloud Computing is reaching the tipping point. SaaS is on the verge to balloon. Mobile apps are moving to the enterprise as we speak. Small, medium and large companies will need to mobilize their back office systems.
What better a solution can operators offer then a mobile SaaS enablement platform? A platform in the cloud that allows companies to connect in a secure way their back office systems and to expose internal data to third-party mobile SaaS. Hundreds of small software companies can be making specialized mobile SaaS offerings to allow companies to easily “approve travel expenses”, “monitor KPIs on the go”, “remotely reserve a meeting room”, etc.
Unified Back-office Exposure
Companies would find tools to expose internal data sources and back-office systems as web services. Data islands are exposed and protected via technologies like oAuth. User management and security are managed from a central dashboard. Unified web services interfaces can standardize the exposure of different back-office systems, allowing for mobile SaaS applications to work independent from for instance the back-office ERP that is being used.
The operator is the perfect companion to expose internal resources via secure communication links.
Developers can find a list of tools that take the repetitive tasks out of creating SaaS. Federated user management, multi-tenancy data store, mobile interface designer, integration frameworks (messaging, web services, oAuth, etc.), virtual application servers, long tail monetizing tools (e.g. subscription management), on-demand call center and CRM tools for support, etc.
Enterprise App Stores
Employees can access enterprise app stores in which they can use mobile SaaS applications, either on subscription basis (hourly, daily, monthly, yearly, etc.) or after one-time purchasing. Everything goes immediately on the cost center of their department after manual or automatic approval and is paid via the enterprise’s telecom invoice.
Long Tail Support
Eco-systems of support organizations, on-demand call centers, online trainings and certification programs, etc. can all make sure that enterprises get the support they need.
Show me the money
Operators can charge for sign-up or listing fees, get revenue shares from mobile app sales and support subscriptions, etc. Developers can move solutions from public app stores to enterprise app stores and charge instead of €0.79, several (tens of) euros as a one-time or subscription fee. Software would no longer have to be purchased by IT but can be “used when needed” and only paid for when it really solves a business problem. Also end-users would be able to use the software they really need and not have to wait for a corporate policy update.