SaaS software-management tools target SMEs

Serena Software's latest set of tools will be delivered via a lower-cost software-as-a-service model
Written by Adrian Bridgwater, Contributor

Software project management specialist Serena Software has released a set of tools delivered via a lower-cost software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

The company said its Mariner portfolio management software will be available on a subscription pricing basis within the next 30 days, and it will be followed by SaaS options for business mashups and its "Agile" application lifecycle management (ALM) tools.

"SMEs who may have felt priced out of the market for software project controls can now get hold of these tools with prices starting at US$18 per user per month," said Eddy Pauwels, director of product marketing at Serena. "SaaS delivery is typically lower cost as there is no infrastructure to manage, no software to install and a more flexible pricing model than seen with 'on premise' or 'boxed' alternatives."

Serena Mariner is targeted at business analysts who want a wide but concise view of a company's entire technology portfolio. Its Mashup Composer product allows non-technical staff to define their own workflows and drag and drop to "create" applications. Serena says it recognises these mashups of non-technical "applications" will not integrate with a company's core IT stack. "That is a road we have yet to go down," said Pauwels.

"Software development has been going through a prolonged metamorphosis. We are now at a stage where commercial software development routinely involves offshoring and outsourcing to exploit third-party domain expertise and reduce costs. Thus, the range of development and deployment platforms is complex and varied, and agile methods are needed to bring products to market quickly," said Dave Robertson, director of European operations for Perforce Software.

"The older generations of ALM tools have found it very difficult to adapt to this new way of working, mainly because they were designed for a bygone era where most software development projects and the necessary domain expertise were largely controlled in-house," added Robertson. "Targeting the emerging mashup market is a good way for Serena to grab some early voice in the market. But, right now, few mission-critical applications are being designed with mashup technology."

Serena's product announcements come in the same week Microsoft has announced a beta version of a multi-tenant server SaaS platform for email and instant messaging. "The SaaS model is still in its infancy, but holds considerable appeal, particularly for SMEs. This is because it offers fixed monthly fees, freedom from most operational management, elimination of upgrade responsibilities and, in some cases, lower costs," said Matt Cain, research vice president at Gartner.

"We believe the SaaS model will dramatically change the way businesses provision, operate and consume IT services during the next five years. Microsoft's SaaS investment is both an offensive move to capture operational revenue (in addition to the licence fees it now collects) and a defensive measure to combat potential incursions from suppliers such as Google," added Cain.

The potential of the SaaS delivery model has had a significant impact on vendor dynamics, driving Cisco to acquire WebEx, Yahoo to buy Zimbra, Google to purchase Postini, Dell to buy MessageOne and SAP to invest heavily in its Business ByDesign platform. Serena itself claims to be committed to putting the SaaS model to use internally and has implemented a variety of on-demand systems including Salesforce.com, Postini for anti-spam, Facebook for its corporate intranet and LucidEra for business analytics.

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