I’m continuing to discuss various aspects of PLM on the Cloud and SaaS. The issue I wanted to discuss today is related to the software upgrades. This topic is considered as a painful in the enterprise software and requires additional significant investment and effort. Let think what SaaS/Cloud can change potentially? In my view, there are two separate aspects we need to analyze: technological and business.
Technology of SaaS/Cloud
From the technological standpoint, moving to cloud or SaaS solution still doesn’t mean change in comparison to what we have today when we run software on premises. If your PLM solution, for example, will be delivered on dedicated servers hosted in data centers, you are not going to experience any change in comparison to the web solution deployed in the orgnization. These servers will run the specific version of PLM software installed on them and you (or your provider) will need to care to upgrade them in the same way you are doing it today. However, if PLM solution will be delivered in the multi-tenant architecture, and you’ll share instances of the servers with other customers, you have a potential to experience non-stop migration between software versions deployed by vendors. Even in this case, the question of how it will happen to be heavily dependent on details of the system implementation, data modeling aspects and many others. So, in my view, the devil of SaaS/Cloud technology is in details. You’ll need to watch it closely and understand what can be supported by your software provider. Certainly, some of the software aspects related to data modeling will still require “upgrade point” anyway.
Cloud / SaaS as a business model
This is another aspect that I’d not connect directly to the technology of an upgrade. The most widely accepted situation when moving to SaaS model is to get software licenses paid by a subscription fee and not by license fees. These change of the business model will likely move your software expenses to a monthly/yearly payment. I had chance to read some interesting observation about that business from Burton Group blog yesterday. You can find it here. (http://ccsblog.burtongroup.com/collaboration_and_content/2010/02/a-.html). However, even this subscription looks like a big change, in practice, lots of SaaS contracts that promoted actively as monthly payments, will be considered as 1-2 years contracts. So, forklift event, Burton’s blog is writing about, will be created by vendor.
What is my conclusion today? Marketing is doing a great job around SaaS and cloud software. However, not all marketing presentations are translated into practical realities. It can stay in the power point slides. Even if SaaS/Cloud computing is providing an option to be different from software on premises, you need to watch details of a specific solution you are going to move to.
These are just my thoughts… What is your opinion on that?