Cloud and the European SaaS provider

The SaaS scene in Europe deserves more attention, and the intersection with cloud is especially interesting, considering how many cloud pioneers there are in Europe. Will European innovation here rival the US?
Written by Phil Wainewright, Contributor

I've been spending some time recently researching the SaaS scene in Europe, while preparing the ground for the SIIA OnDemand Europe conference in June, for which I'm helping to co-ordinate the agenda [as a paid engagement: see disclosure]. Although most of the well-known names in the SaaS business are US companies, there's a strong contingent of European SaaS vendors and they deserve more attention — in fact I hope the June conference will be a big showplace for them. So over the next few weeks I'm going to be highlighting one or two specifically European stories here on this blog.

One key theme is the interaction of SaaS and the cloud, which is the topic of a pre-conference seminar hosted jointly by the SIIA and IBM next Wednesday 18th February in London, called Cloud and the SaaS Provider. Europe has a lot of cloud pioneers — Q-Layer, which Sun recently acquired, is based in Belgium; there's a strong Amazon presence here, along with competitors such as Flexiscale and ElasticHosts, and cloud management vendor CohesiveFT, whose co-founder Alexis Richardson is speaking at the seminar, has an important base here. Last week I met many of these vendors at the PoweredByCloud conference, and they'll all be making an appearance at next month's Cloud Camp London (which I'll miss as I'll be in San Francisco that week for SaaS Summit 2009).

Next Wednesday's half-day seminar is the first event that looks at cloud from a specifically SaaS ISV perspective, covering issues such as: what factors to consider when moving to cloud infrastructure; how to evaluate the costs and risks of competing cloud platform; as well as the business impact of moving to the cloud. There will be speakers from ISVs who've made the move, including CODA, which last year launched the first financials application developed on the Force.com platform. There will also be speakers from IBM, BT and Microsoft, and participants from Salesforce.com, OpSource and other providers.

My own view is that the downturn is going to force many ISVs to turn to cloud infrastructure to enable their SaaS initiatives, so I'm going to be interested to see what the general feeling is about moving to the cloud. From what I've seen, European vendors are not holding back any more than US vendors, and there are plenty of indigenous providers and cloud experts, so this may be one technology that gets adopted just as fast in Europe as in the US.

For those interested, the seminar is free to SIIA members and IBM or Progress Software partners, and other participants will have the registration fee credited if they go on to register for the June conference, which is shaping up to be a strong event (even though I say it myself), with keynotes from NetSuite's Zach Nelson and SAP's John Wookey as well as Google and many other key players on the agenda.

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