I spoke on a panel at SaaScon today and in thinking over the comments I achieved clarity on a couple of points:
1) When someone says “SaaS” it can mean a lot of things depending on their perspective. There is the delivery model as represented by multi-tenant hosted, SOA as in architecture, web services as the more generic variant of SOA, and IT’s shared services idea.
2) If all we end up doing is rewriting existing apps in SOA I will be profoundly disappointed. However, in many of these discussions that is exactly the subtext, how new web services apps will displace legacy client/server. At some point we need to get beyond this and imagine a scenario where new innovative apps will be built that disrupt the status quo, and in reality they are very unlikely to come from the incumbent vendors.
3) Incumbents do have a built in advantage, the markets for major enterprise apps have been saturated and solidified.
4) Let’s think about how we grow markets by bringing new customer groups into the tent rather than just redefining where the seams are drawn.
5) In my mind the most exciting aspect of SaaS is the economic model that a light touch selling process enables. If anything, this is the critical enabler because it enables companies to target smaller niche markets and higher risk applications. Large vendors like Oracle and SAP can’t target micromarkets because their economic infrastructure demands that they go after large markets to feed the machine, and large markets or collections of moderately sized markets mean that they develop to the lowest common denominator. I spent a lot of years watching this unfold, in order to expand the addressable market you end up making a lot of compromises in the product roadmap…