Talk To Customers
Test No. 5: Talk to customers
Finally, talk to customers-and not the references the vendor gives you. You can usually find a list of customers on the vendor's Web site, but you might find even more useful information in public user forums, blog posts or on Twitter. No one will know the answers to the above questions better than the customers who have implemented and been using the vendor's application for any appreciable amount of time.Summary
I've heard it argued, "What does all this matter to the user? Why do they care how the application is being delivered?" True, the typical user probably does not care. However, users generally aren't the ones making the purchasing decisions, paying the bills or responsible for the IT strategy for the entire enterprise. The folks who are tend to care a lot more.
There is a reason why SAAS eclipsed ASPs for application delivery. It is hands-down a superior delivery model from cost to technology to scalability. Multitenancy is what makes all the benefits of SAAS possible: rapid time to deployment/value, faster innovation cycles, infinite scalability, etc. SAAS has a dramatically reduced cost structure because it leverages one platform. Vendors who deliver their application via SAAS have a competitive advantage over those who do not.
If you're in the market for SAAS applications, I encourage you to ask questions when making your selection. Go beyond accepting the "we're in the cloud" response to understanding exactly how your vendor delivers its application. Presumably, you've come to the cloud because you want to exploit the economics and advantages of utility computing and applications.
Remember, just because an application is hosted in the cloud does not necessarily make it SAAS. Caveat emptor: if it's not multitenant, it's not SAAS.Bob Moul is President and CEO of Boomi. Previously, Bob was president of the global education software business at SCT (now SunGard Higher Education) and group president responsible for several software businesses at Maximus. Bob began his career with EDS, initially as a systems engineer, and advanced into senior management positions including director of EDS' operations in Hong Kong and China, and executive director of its federal government business in Australia. Bob's 28-year career has spanned all aspects of IT services, software and consulting in a variety of executive leadership, technical management and engineering roles.