IBM is putting some of its muscle into the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, announcing new resources to help its partner ISVs develop and adapt applications -- such as accounting, human resources and ERP -- to be delivered as services.
IBM's Software as Service (SaS) offerings will be delivered through online tools, consulting, workshops, and an online directory of ISVs that are providing SaaS. (Yes, IBM calls it "SaS", not "SaaS.") IBM's directory already includes almost 40 applications available online, including billing and invoicing, workflow, ERP on demand, CRM on demand, content management, and contract management.
My blogmate, Britton, recently explored some of the promise and misconceptions around SaaS in his recent posting. Britton points to the fact that SaaS skeptics may be "trapping us in conventional app categories when we need to think beyond these boxes."
Many observers, even software vendors themselves, tend to restrict their scope of SaaS to simply that of software delivery mechanism. That's like thinking of UPS and Fedex as "package delivery services," versus the revolutionary impact these companies have had on logistics and just-in-time inventory.
IBM's "SaS" moniker also is puzzling, since SaaS itself is still a new and misunderstood term. Is Big Blue just attempting to shorten an ungainly acronym? This should raise some eyebrows among my friends at SAS Institute, the business analytics platform supplier, which also delivers many of its solutions as a service. So we have SAS delivering SaaS, and IBM delivering SaS to help ISVs deliver SaaS.