Will Your SaaS Provider be a Survivor? - InformationWeek

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1/12/2007
01:24 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Will Your SaaS Provider be a Survivor?

In the heady, pre-dot-bomb buzz of early 2000, I edited a feature on "21 ASPs and What They Can Do For You." They were called "Application Service Providers" back then, but that term was displaced, first by "hosted," then by "on-demand" and most recently by "Software as a Service" (SaaS). I was surprised when a quick Web tour turned up only about a third of these vendors still very visibly in the hosted/on-demand business. That should give you pause -- and reason to do thorough due diligence --

In the heady, pre-dot-bomb buzz of early 2000, I edited a feature by my long-time colleague Penny (Lunt) Crosman on "21 ASPs and What They Can Do For You." They were called "application service providers" back then, but that term was displaced, first by "hosted," then by "on-demand" and most recently by "Software as a Service" (SaaS).

The focus of Penny's article was document management, a topic I revisit in today's story on SaaS as a Stepping Stone to Conventional Software. I was surprised when a quick Web tour turned up only about a third of these vendors still very visibly in the hosted/on-demand document management business.My search wasn't exhaustive, but it's a bit scary to think that just seven years later, at least half of these outfits are either gone or otherwise out of the business. That should give you pause -- and reason to do thorough due diligence -- when selecting a service vendor today.

Among the survivors are ConnectSite, Critical Technologies, DocumentMall, MI8 and Zantaz. Another long-term survivor is NetDocuments, which appeared in the Transform Magazine article "Formerly Known as ASP." In fact, I just visited the free personal account I set up on this service years ago and there they were: five documents I stored back in 2001. Talk about your time capsule!

Some outfits in this game are now calling themselves SaaS providers, but as I point out in SaaS and SOA: Together Forever, a true SaaS is built on a services-oriented architecture, not conventional software. That difference is crucial in scaling up and flexibly changing the software, so there's another buyer-beware tip for those looking for service providers with staying power that can reliably serve enterprise-class needs.In the heady, pre-dot-bomb buzz of early 2000, I edited a feature on "21 ASPs and What They Can Do For You." They were called "Application Service Providers" back then, but that term was displaced, first by "hosted," then by "on-demand" and most recently by "Software as a Service" (SaaS). I was surprised when a quick Web tour turned up only about a third of these vendors still very visibly in the hosted/on-demand business. That should give you pause -- and reason to do thorough due diligence -- when selecting a service provider today.

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