Photo by stevoarnold
I love the premise of cloud computing. Rapid development, regular release cycles, continuous improvement, the list goes on.
So why are so many businesses still stuck in the desktop app mind set?
- Fear of losing control of their data
- Fear of slow connection
- Fear of no connection
- Perceived browser limitations
- Desire for offline access
Fear of losing control of your data.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in my professional career working with System Administrators is how very few Sys Admins have a deep knowledge of databases. In short, a system admin is not a DBA (exceptions exist of course, but they are just that; exceptions).
In large, well funded organizations there is often a clear deliniation between DBA’s and Sys Admins. But many other companies don’t make this distinction. To them everything that runs on a computer is IT. Their IT guy is Josh. He’s in charge of everything. He knows everything. He’s an IT god. How tough can it be to manage a database as well?
Sorry. I’ve seen single sys admins in many, many organizations, and nothing against them, but I rarely see one who is extremely proficient as a sys admin AND a DBA. The positions are simply too different.
My point here is, a company that is selling a SaaS offering will, in my opinion, best most companies in the following:
- storage of data
- confidentiality of data
- integrity of data.
It’s their job. They do it everyday for hundreds or thousands of customers.
Fear of slow connection
This is a real concern. Our developers are in Australia, just south of Brisbane (where the photo above was taken). The rest of us are in North America. We use many SaaS offerings for a wide array of needs, from support tickets to accounting, and slow connections are sometimes a pain. But we are also very cognitive of the benefits of SaaS, and the ability to connect from anywhere. Slow connections here and there haven’t soured us, though we freely admit, blazing fast access all the time would be nice.
Fear of no connection
Your concern is noted. But if you lose connection now with your desktop app how proficient would you be? Even desktop applications are becoming more reliant on internet connections, and as such, internet connections have gotten more reliable.
If you can’t afford to have an applications down for 40 minutes here and there, perhaps you should stay on the desktop side. But really determine critical vs. nice-to-have. Many SaaS solutions boast great availability. They have to. If they don’t, they won’t be a SaaS for long.
Perceived browser limitations
The first browser app I ever worked with was a firewall app back in ’98. Boy did that thing suck. One page with endless scrolling. We’ve come a long way since those days. So long that some SaaS solutions don’t require web browsers to do the work (hello Dropbox). Really look at the solution – see what is browser based and what isn’t. Even those items that are browser based have a lot of functionality. This is one area where I applauded 37 Signals – in 2008 they announced that they
were ending support for IE6,
even while millions of consumers were still using that abhorrent version.
IE6 simply didn’t provide the level of customer usability that they demanded, and they said so with no reservation or remorse.
Desire for offline access
OK, this is a good point. And to the extent that you really need true offline access, it may be a deal killer.
If you have closed labs and your solutions must be tested in those labs, then you have some choices to make. Hopefully your management will not categorically deny the ability to use SaaS solutions because of this, but they may. Doing so will surely be felt in the long run.
SaaS is here to stay. It may not kill the desktop app, but it certainly provides a level of customer usability that is lacking the in world of setup.exe.
Categorically refusing to use SaaS solutions will greatly limit your potential tools in your toolbox or weapons in your arsenal.
We’re an app company. We use SaaS for many of our company needs, and we’re excited to introduce this concept to our own product line in the very near future.
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