How we got addicted to SaaS in the cloud
Fifteen years ago if your company wanted email, someone had to set up an email server. If they wanted a tool to help the sales force manage sales, someone had to set up a server. This? A server. That? A server. And for each of those tools there was a client app that needed to be installed and configured on people’s machines.
Not fun. Not cheap. And not adaptable by any stretch of the imagination.
I was still working in the pharma industry when we were rolling out Seibel to our sales force of hundreds of reps. There weren’t servers to set up with data and configurations, laptops had to be upgraded to take the new software, hundreds of new machines had to be purchased to upgrade the sales force, and then the Seibel app had to be installed and configured on all the rep laptops.
Since this was in the pre-WiFi era, the app had to work over dialup internet connections and offline. It was a huge and expensive undertaking. A client-server rollout like this is almost unheard of today. Today people use a web browser to get to their CRM (Salesforce.com being the most obvious example). Even email, thanks to Gmail and now Office 365, is a web app. Sure web-based email has been around since 2000 (ish), but only in the past 5 years has web-based email actually been useful.
The browser is the app. The app is just a tab or window to get there. And it’s all because of Software as a Service.
Whatever you need to do, there is a SaaS app for it
Even knowing that the heading is true, doesn’t make it sound any less like marketing hyperbole. But I’m at a loss to think of any task or app you can’t do in a browser window. Sit down at a Chromebook and email, edit files, edit photos, edit movies, update a presention, track leads in your CRM…all through a browser. For almost all of those services there are versions you can subscribe to that you can run on your own servers as part of a cloud service.
Let’s take keeping your email spam free. There are real costs to anti-spam services not working correctly. On one side is blocking important emails on the other extreme is letting virus and malware laden emails get through infecting your network. You want to do spam protection right. You could buy a Cisco Ironport server, set it up, manage the settings, and deal with all the updates and patches. Or you can subscribe to an Ironport-powered anti-spam service like Microserve offers. Same protection. Same level of security, but none of the headaches. A service is based on a regular cost and subscription. We keep the servers patched and updated. We keep things running. It’s a piece of software delivered to you as a defined service.
Big and little clouds are still clouds
One of the misconceptions about SaaS is that you can’t have third party SaaS offerings. Somehow if Microserve installs and offers your company Exchange email on our cloud servers it’s somehow less Saasy (yes, I went there) than if you sign up for Office 365 yourself. Microserve can offer you the same, maybe better, level service in our cloud for your apps and give you the one thing big players just can’t do—we offer personalized service and support.
Say you did that email rollout. Maybe you needed a few non-standard modules or settings for your organization. With a large SaaS company a) you might not be able to customize the offering and b) chances are if you run into an issue the person on the other end of the phone or email will have no clue about you or your needs. Us? What do you think the answer is?
As a local, trusted IT service provider, we expanded into Cloud services because we saw people weren’t being supported by big players. Important issues for our customers like data sovereignty and custom configurations weren’t important enough for big cloud companies.
That’s not how we work. That’ not what we’re about.
Our SaaS and IaaS offerings are built on local support, dedication to deliver the best, and offer what people need, not just what to sell.
If you’d like to read the other parts of the series, you can catch up with Part 1: What is the Cloud, Part 2: Data and Backups, Part 3: Disaster Recovery, and Part 4: Infrascture as a Service (servers on demand).