Experts state glibly: “SaaS is ready for you, even if you are not yet ready for SaaS!” But, what does “being ready for SaaS” imply? More important “What is SaaS?” Let us answer the second question first.
SaaS is the abbreviation for “Software as a Service”. SaaS service providers deploy industry specific or generic web browser based applications on a subscription basis, over the Internet, to multiple enterprises or employees within an enterprise using shared public/private/hybrid cloud architectures.
SaaS readiness enforces due diligence for functional fit and data strategy. It highlights support requirements and draws attention to economics of the cloud. It is evident that SaaS readiness has a potential to transform thinking on information technology and to create a service centric approach to computing within the organisation.
Functional fit due diligence begins with an understanding that SaaS applications are built on generic business concepts and the process of getting the business SaaS ready presupposes that the business processes will be subsumed to generic pre-defined processes albeit compromises. However, the SaaS typicality can be cost effective and process standardisation may bring in reshape the experience curve for the enterprise. The opportunity cost of using enterprise expertise elsewhere may far outweigh the cost of employing them in designing on premise, differentiated applications.
Due diligence for data fit ensures that the criticality of data conversions and system interfaces are not underestimated. Getting ready for SaaS may involve getting the enterprise familiar with unfamiliar challenges. SaaS tools are typically Wizards that guide the user through a task and are generic constructs. Extraction, transformation and load options may be limited and overnight conversions may present difficulties that are associated with bandwidth availabilities. However, if the enterprise is looking for integrative processes, SaaS tools are most suitable. They blend with diverse systems such as Oracle and SAP or heavy duty enterprise resource planning software.
SaaS readiness acknowledges that the benefits of SaaS are important for the organisation growth strategy. IT infrastructure abstraction is not the only reason. The enterprise can now shift the risk of software acquisition and convert IT from a reactive cost centre to a value generating catalyst of growth. They can take advantage of SaaS Continuum in exchange for a small fee that can be budgeted for as operating expenses rather than as capital investments with long run implications. It is a decision point where political, technological, financial and legal considerations come together for the betterment of the organisation.