Today, many software vendors offer their software solutions either as a pure Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or at least have a SaaS or cloud option in their portfolio. SaaS is essentially a software licensing and delivery model where the vendor provides not only the software but also the necessary computing resources to run it—i.e. the computer. The customer can simply use the software and does not have to worry about installation, operation or any updates. Well-known, successful SaaS providers include Google, Salesforce, Dropbox, MailChimp, ZenDesk, Slack and Hubspot, which offer highly scalable, globally running, cloud native applications.
In addition to the large and well-known SaaS vendors, there are a large number of vendors that offer their products as a SaaS or cloud option, but the products do not have much in common with the cloud native applications of the well-known SaaS vendors. These other vendors offer a software solution that was originally designed to run on an on-premises server or on the user’s computer. To turn it into a SaaS product, the vendors simply pack their software solution for each SaaS customer on a cloud server—most often a virtual machine (VM)—or on a remote desktop machine and call it SaaS.
A large number of software offerings labeled as SaaS do not—while still meeting the definition of SaaS—realize the benefits and value proposition of SaaS, neither for the customer or the vendor, or only to a very limited extent. The fact that a software solution runs on a remote rather than an on-premises server or personal computer (PC) does not make a SaaS solution successful.
We wrote a booklet addressing these questions. The booklet explains the technical characteristics that a software solution should have in order to be offered as a successful SaaS solution—with benefits and added value for both customer and provider. These characteristics can be seen as milestones. They support software vendors with legacy software to make the transformation to a successful SaaS offering in a targeted and effective way.