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Thinking In SaaS

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Our platform selection process is continuing along well, and we have seen some very interesting solutions. Some have been good fits, some are poor fits. At this point, we are going through 2 proof of technology exercises to evaluate who is the best fit. One is a standard on premise solution, and the other is SaaS.

SaaS, aka Software as a Service, really brings a new model to thinking about solutions from a customer perspective. With on premise solutions, it’s pretty clear that you host, you install, you upgrade, you code, etc. You can of course hire consultants, professional services, etc. but at the end of the day, the onus is on you. With SaaS solutions, the line is blurred. The company is offering a specific set of features or services. These may be a complete solution, or there may be gaps for you to fill in. Your challenge is to find these gaps (if there are any) and determine how to fill them.

This challenge requires a whole new line of thinking. You have to think about things in terms of being a customer, and not an engineer on the vendors team. I too often hear “how do I see the debug log” or something along those lines. Better questions are the ones that determine what the SLA is, what the mean time between failures is, the average service restoration times, and what the penalties for breaching the SLA are.

Of course I mentioned earlier you have to figure out where the gaps are. Asking questions around those is absolutely necessary. You should also determine how you will engage one another when an issue in the handoff between gaps experiences a failure. But beyond that, don’t expect to see their debug log.

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