Hooray, 2009 starts with a SaaS backlash

Hooray, 2009 starts with a SaaS backlash

Summary: After years of indifference to SaaS, the conventional software world has suddenly woken up to the threat and started attacking it in the hope it will all go away. As 2009 begins, the anti-SaaS chorus scales to ever more frenetic notes.


I welcomed Harry Debes' outburst against SaaS last summer, because being attacked is always better than being ignored. After years of indifference to SaaS, the conventional software world has suddenly woken up to the threat and started attacking it in the hope it will all go away.

2009 has begun with a renewed onslaught — perhaps enheartened by Salesforce.com suffering a total shutdown for almost 40 minutes last Tuesday, when a network device failed and took out its failover at the same time. Even the system status dashboard was inaccessible, leaving customers feverishly twittering for updates.

On the same day, Bill McDermott, SAP America's CEO and president of global field operations was telling Information Week that large enterprises will "never" use SaaS as a platform for running their core business operations (Oracle's CRM chief Anthony Lye advanced a similar argument at November's SIIA OnDemand conference).

Instead, former Oracle technology chief John Wookey is heading up a strategy to offer SaaS modules that "snap on" to SAP's on-premise applications — rather like Microsoft's 'software-plus-services' approach. As if that will eliminate all likelihood of anyone ever suffering a 40-minute outage. Perhaps a sprinkling of FUD about SaaS vendor viability will do the trick instead ...

Yet the harder these holdouts rage against SaaS, the more steadily it advances. Today, Evans Data released the results of a developer survey that found almost a third of developers in North America are already working on SaaS projects, and more than half worldwide expect they'll be doing so in 2009. Meanwhile, an analysis of Google search data by Pingdom has found that SaaS is still holding its own as a buzzword, even while both 'Web 2.0' and 'cloud computing' have shown sharp declines in 2008.

Faced with such a relentless surge, the anti-SaaS chorus is hitting ever more frenetic notes. For example, the ComputerWorld blogger who last week argued that SaaS hurts a fragile economy by eliminating IT staff from unproductive positions that are a drag on their employer's operational efficiency. Or the astonishing calculation that if you power on your desktop computer and then power it off again each time you do a Google search, you'll soon burn more carbon than if you boil a kettle.

When the attacks become this desperate, you know you're onto a winner.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Cloud, Data Centers

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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  • No surprises

    No surprise that companies like SAP are attacking SaaS. For one it's in their best interests to maintain the status quo and perpetuate their larger revenue streams.

    I agree that when others start hatin' on something they're just showing their jealousy. Kind of high school.
  • SaaS is a very viable way of doing things...

    It's the people that perpetuate it that I don't trust, and over the years they've given me significant reason not to do so. As you stated, one of the CEOs at SAP seems to agree with me.
    • Yeah, no kidding

      Let's not forget how Gartner loves to push it too. Anything that Gartner pushes is immediately suspect, not only in my mind, but in the minds of most real-world IT folks. To make it worse, so many industry pundits love to quote Gartner and their ilk with their support of SaaS. That's like having Michael Vick as the spokesperson for your dog training school, or Ken Lay as the guest speaker at a business accounting course.

      Justin James
  • We're doing more than talking about it

    Although you'd have a hard time getting me to let go of Gmail, we're resisting the SaaS trend in just about every other segment of the business.

    Maybe not for the same reasons as other organizations. My concern is who owns our data? Can we back up our data? Are the file formats compatible? Who else has access to our information?

    There are a lot of good reasons for keeping services in house.
  • RE: Hooray, 2009 starts with a SaaS backlash

    40 minute outage is nothing. Last year Salesforce got hacked and we had all kinds of phishing attacks that looked like they were coming from Salesforce. It's really a two-bit operation. They have no clue what they are doing when it comes to integration.

    In a few years, you'll see a lot of stories about the pain and suffering from SaaS. It's the worst kind of vendor lock-in.

    I think cloud computing in general has lot of immediate potential but SaaS is not ready for the real world.
  • RE: Hooray, 2009 starts with a SaaS backlash

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight and then you win.

    I think it was Gandhi who said this - so victory for SaaS is near :)
  • RE: Hooray, 2009 starts with a SaaS backlash

    I don't think issues of outage or questions of file format of backup files is something that is SaaS specific. Am I to understand that in virtue of being in-house solutions outages are no more? Large firms have multi-day outages of in-house solutions all the time. Publicity of such is lacking because, well, they don't want anyone to know. SaaS don't have luxury of secrecy.
    As for file format of backup, it is up to SaaS provider's account manager and your own IT group to figure this out IN ADVANCE of buying the product. And again, these would not be issues endemic of SaaS.
    • RE: Hooray, 2009 starts with a SaaS backlash

      I agree, outages (although planned) do happen at large companies with in house IT infrastructure. Although, the plant usually gets a notice beforehand about the planned outage. I am not sure if it is completely acceptable though if it happens without announcement from a SAAS service provider and if it is not dealt with satisfactorily by the service provider.