Everybody Loves an Underdog

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Everyone loves an underdog story – when the Saints rocketed to victory in the Super Bowl this year, the collective cheer could be heard from coast to coast (with the exception of those disgruntled Indianapolitans).  What happens when the underdog turns out to be a pit-bull in its own right?  When the little guy comes up and knocks the big man out of the ring?

This is the story the software industry and the media love to spin about SaaS.  The little guy, coming up from behind, to as effectively quell onsite software as the Saints did the Colts.  The reality, however, is far more complex.

Rather than thinking about SaaS and onsite as fight-to-the-death competitors, its time to readjust our software world view.  This new world, a world in which SaaS and onsite live together in peace and harmony – is a place called reality.

Companies like WaveMaker, SugarCRM and iPlanWare are ahead of the pack, offering both on demand (SaaS) and onsite options.  WaveMaker’s ‘Cloud Edition’ is a hosted, multi-tenant version of the company’s Community Edition, basically moving their open source offering to the cloud.  Therein, however, lies the problem, and the reason onsite and SaaS must coexist.  WaveMaker’s Cloud Edition is appropriate for community needs, but not a suitable replacement for the Enterprise Edition.  SugarCRM’s Express edition is formulated to ‘fill the gap between community edition and pro edition.’ Notice a trend? SaaS has a hard time filling enterprise needs.

SaaS’s main drawback affects enterprises more than the individual users.  While the convenience and efficiency of SaaS is appealing, the truth is that in SaaS the vendor has control over the data.  For businesses, this lack of proprietary control is unacceptable.  The enterprise isn’t ready to hand their data out to third-party vendors.

Given the benefits and drawbacks of each, this dual offering is only the first step in a truly integrated software universe.  For companies like Eucalyptus Systems, Zoho, Boomi and Cast Iron cloud software represents the next step.  Combining the scalability of cloud computing, the ease of maintaining/updating of SaaS, with the security and control attached to onsite technology, these emerging companies represent the future.

The future, however, is not yet upon us.  SugarCRM’s example says it all – cloud bridging software can be utilized for more than just community editions, yet when it comes to enterprise use, still falls short.

The ending to this ‘underdog’ story is not little guy mauls big guy, but little guy and big guy sharing a pizza, on a cloud computing bridge.

-Samantha Small

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