Live blogging AO Stanford SaaS panel

I'm sitting at my PC late at night here in London watching a live webcast of Ray Lane hosting a panel on "Has the Software as a Service Model Finally Arrived"at AlwaysOn's Stanford Summit in California

I'm sitting at my PC late at night here in London watching a live webcast of Ray Lane hosting a panel on "Has the Software as a Service Model Finally Arrived" at AlwaysOn's Stanford Summit in California, and I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. I thought this would be a bit more lively. It was interesting, though, to see Ray trying to get some confrontation from the audience and see that he could only find people who agreed with the on-demand model. I think the AlwaysOn audience is ahead of Ray here. Now he's trying to push the 'What about security' canard.

Ok, now it's livened up a little, which is good. Zach Nelson and Greg Gianforte have found their rhythm so we're getting a bit more dynamic. Nice to see by the way Marc Benioff using my bank analogy.

I see Dan Farber is there of course and has already posted Marc Benioff's ten tenets of the future of software from his keynote ahead of the panel.

Good to see the stuff coming up about users being able to customize/configure applications. Brett Caine is making some good points about viral adoption. That's a key factor for this industry.

Ok, that's a good question from the audience: 'What about the fear?'. Not really answered. Greg Gianforte said, try before you buy, which is fair enough but doesn't take the edge off moving everything online.

Apparently the online poll has 10% saying SaaS will exceed 10% of software industry revenue next year, and 60% within five years. Which is pretty good going, I'd say. Nice audience.

Greg is now talking about open source and SaaS and of course RightNow is entirely based on open source platforms - Linux, mySQL, Perl, etc. The point he makes is that once the IT is behind the service it becomes a black box and it doesn't matter to the consuming enterprise what powers the service. Unsurprisingly, George Kadifa is dissenting a little there. 

Now we're talking about IT skills. Zach making the point that it's about the skills now needed are about applying the technologies rather than managing them.

And that's the end. Overall I think that was a good panel, but you couldn't really go wrong with that combination of personalities. I would have been tempted to try and get a bit more conflict going, knowing the different takes each of them would have. I'm also not too impressed - as a remote attendee - by the miking as the questioning tended to dilute the momentum, especially since I could hear very few of them.

This has been my first attempt at live blogging. Normally I prefer to write considered pieces so this has been a bit of an experiment, really. Nice to pick up a bit of the AlwaysOn buzz though. Congratulations to the conference organizers on setting up a really good webcast. The sound quality of the speakers was really good and I had uninterrupted sound and vision all the way through. 

Postscript: Dan Farber also posted about this session, calling it a SaaS love fest. He did something I neglected to do, which is list the participants: "Ray Lane, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, led the panel ... Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com; Brett Caine, President, Citrix Online Division, Citrix Systems; Greg Gianforte, CEO and Founder, RightNow Technologies; George Kadifa, General Manager, On Demand Group, IBM; and Zach Nelson, CEO, NetSuite."

With that line-up, you can see why I decided to tune in, despite the late hour in my timezone. If anything, it was a bit too crowded, but each of the participants made some good points.

The other thing that struck me was how many of the panellists are Oracle alumni: Ray Lane himself of course was once COO of Oracle; and Benioff, Nelson and Kadifa have all held senior positions at Oracle in their previous careers. No wonder the biggest laugh of the session came when Benioff cited his organization's trust.salesforce.com system performance monitoring page to contrast the 'customer success' focus of on-demand vendors with attitudes at conventional vendors like Oracle: "At Oracle, there was no trust page, there was an 'FU' page."

Shameless plug: Dan notes it's hardly surprising that in response to the question posed in the session's title, "given the bias of the panel members ... the verdict was a predictable resounding yes." I'm expecting a slightly more spirited debate when I chair a two-person panel at IDG SaaScon in San Francisco late September. The session is titled SAP and Oracle Debate SaaS in the Enterprise and the panellists are SAP's Jeff Nolan (author of the Venture Chronicles blog) and Rob Reid from Oracle's Siebel CRM OnDemand division (and formerly CEO of UpShot). I'm not expecting a 'love fest'.

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