Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enterprise Software: Saas vs. the Big Three

Forbes.com published an article by Dan Woods where he describes a battle between the traditional enterprise software providers (Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle) and Saas providers like Salesforce.com and NetSuite.

According to Woods, SaaS applications are easier to use because they offer streamlined interfaces that are modeled after successful web consumer sites like Amazon.com, Yahoo!, eBay, Google, etc. These SaaS interfaces were designed to be easily configurable.

Traditional enterprise software is not as easy to use because user interfaces are often created before it is known exactly how the software would be used. Customization to the user interface is often done at installation by systems integrators who do not have any actual user behavior on which to base their customizations.

The Big Three are well aware of the usability gap between their products and SaaS software, but it is unclear how to solve the problem. Oracle emphasizes Fusion as an integration platform. SAP recently announced an experiment called Blue Ruby that is attempting to adapt Ruby on Rails as a user interface and programming technology for its applications. But is it possible to affordably automate a business starting with a configurable application platform that must be adapted to the specific user interfaces and business processes in a company? The SaaS model starts with a usable interface and a working automation of common processes, and then has the configuration proceed from there. The hosted nature of SaaS removes the deployment barriers.

IVT software is the only webcasting and digital asset management applications available both as a SaaS and as a behind-the-firewall installation. With webcasting software, the divide has included the question: should there be proprietary hardware or should the solution be software-only.

IVT falls on the software-only side, believing that "black box" proprietary hardware is not scalable and is prone to obsolescence.

IVT software on a SaaS basis works with the network infrastructure that already exists, which is one of the competitive advantages we take to the enterprise video battle.

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