Posted by: Vala Shahabi | November 11, 2009

Software Companies (ISVs) who want to go SaaS

So the race to the clouds is on! A lot of exciting things going on in the SaaS world this past week.  The City of Los Angeles has signed a $7.2 Million dollar contract to use Google Mail and Google Docs, doing away from Microsoft.  I heard Google had to issue a $20 Million dollar bond to insure security of the cloud. The local government adapting the cloud is a big step forward.

A lot of software companies are seeing their competitors moving from a traditional model (pay once) to a subscription model (recurring payment).  They are scratching their heads trying to figure out how they can transform their application to a subscription model.  Every software is different and there are different solutions to make this possible. For a lot of apps, this is something that is very straightforward – rewrite your application as a multi-tenant webapp.  This approach may work for a lot of applications but their are a lot of instances where this does not make sense.  Due to the nature of the functionality of some software, it may never become a fully web based application.  Let me explain.

I recently met a gentleman named Greg who had started his own software company.  The company’ product is an Enterprise Content Management application.  This application makes it very easy for small to medium sized companies to setup a digital repository of all their documents.  This way documents can easily be shared among employees with complete version control. This application utilizes a local SQL Express database and a small client that runs on every user’s machine.  This database is managing the content of both small and large files which are stored in a repository.  As you can see, for this application to work well, it is imperative that everything runs on a local network. Not to mention most their clients are small to medium sized law firms that are absolutely paranoid of putting any of their documentation outside their network and firewall.

So if they have to run their application on the User’s machine and in their environment, how do they go about moving towards a subscription model? One could say they can come up with a fancy licensing mechanism that expires every month or year.  While this is a possibility, it would be a nightmare for Greg to manage as his company grows.  Greg also has some other pains.  He wanted to ease the installation and setup process of his application. He wanted it to be as easy as possible for his users to get up and running with his ECM application.  He feels if he can get the setup process easier, he can boost adaption of the product.  Greg also wanted to control the version of his application his clients were using.

When I met Greg I told him I work for Endeavors Technologies and that we have a product that will allow you to take any windows application and make it a SaaS solution. He was so thrilled as this is something he has been looking for a long time.  In our first meeting he gave me a demo of his application and explained the infrastructure that it is deployed on.  He expressed how important speed is and that when a user clicks on a document it needs to be loaded within 2 seconds. I assured him that this would not be a problem as Application Jukebox does not alter the way an application runs. The application will still be running on the local machine but it is delivered and managed from the cloud.

I am currently working alongside Greg to move to a SaaS model using Application Jukebox.  He will be releasing a new version of his application in the next couple of months that will incorporate the necessary changes to take advantage of Application Jukebox.  I fill you in more as we move forward!

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