Testing for Yourself
Once you have defined your needs, have set your expectations and have discussed these matters with the prospective SAAS providers, it's important to test the SAAS services for yourself, beginning with demo accounts and input from a group of relevant users on how the application performance meets their needs.
Beyond the anecdotal accounts of application performance and availability from the pilot group members, some SAAS services, such as Service-now.com, include page render time counters somewhere on their application screens, which can help quantify the transaction times these applications deliver, both initially during the evaluation of the service and moving forward.
There are also some services, such as TrustSaas.com and Pingdom.com, that keep tabs on SAAS services and offer reports on the uptime of these services, independent of what the vendor has to say about itself.
Simple uptime checks tell part of the story, but to get a more detailed view of SAAS performance, you can turn to products such as Keynote's Keynote Internet Testing Environment, or KITE, with which you can create interaction scripts that encapsulate the sort of work you do with your SAAS applications, and test the applications' performance both from within your network and from certain points of presence that Keynote maintains. For more on KITE, see my review here.
Labs Executive Editor Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.