Welcome!

@ThingsExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, Janakiram MSV

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Article

Is SaaS Dead? | @CloudExpo #BigData #IoT #IaaS #SaaS #AI #DevOps #FinTech

The rapid growth of hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS is changing the SaaS playing field

Is SaaS Dead? Are We Headed to a World of ASP 2.0 or Dedicated SaaS?

The emergence of hyper-scale Infrastructure as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) is challenging the traditional Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) value proposition. SaaS CEOs, investors and SaaS buyers must carefully evaluate the implications of "all-in" migration to hyperscale IaaS platforms that offer value-added platform services that go beyond simple infrastructure services. This article provides a point of view and insights into changes in the SaaS market, which has three principal drivers 1) technical, 2) business, and 3) security and compliance.

History of SaaS
SaaS solutions were born in 2000 with the promise of web-based delivery of hosted software delivered over the internet. SaaS solutions helped reduce the pain and cost associated with upgrades and maintenance headaches of "shrink-wrapped" software. The SaaS business over the last 15 years has disrupted major software platforms and in many ways helped set the stage for wider enterprise adoption of cloud services.

The early success of SaaS helped change customer behavior. Customers became comfortable with data and software running outside of their firewalls. The concept of management by SLAs was in many ways driven by the initial success of SaaS. In the past few years the trend towards SaaS creation and adoption has exploded with the adoption of hyperscale IaaS platforms by SaaS vendors.

This is the great paradox.

The emergence of public cloud IaaS platforms on the one hand is fueling the explosive growth of SaaS, but at the same time it will kill (or dramatically disrupt) SaaS as it destroys the fundamental value proposition.

Will SaaS Work in the Public Cloud Era?
The explosive and constantly accelerating growth of IaaS platforms such as AWS Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) is changing the economics of SaaS.

Your Cloud or My Cloud?
The trend is unmistakable - public IaaS has won. Major SaaS providers as well as large enterprises that are major SaaS buyers are both migrating and embracing the IaaS cloud by going "all-in." Figure 1 shows the implications of this migration and shift.

Figure 1

As both SaaS providers and enterprise SaaS consumers start to operate on the same platform, the SaaS "value-stack" is significantly diminished. Artificial data silos are created for the enterprise when their "SaaS" data is resident right next to their enterprise data separated just by a contractual boundary. SaaS buyers in many ways "pay" twice for their data. Once for storing it in the SaaS platform and a second time for backing it up into their "cloud environment" for security or analytical purposes. Many enterprises often overlook the hidden costs associated with SaaS. These include hard network and storage costs associated with copying data back and forth for backup/retention or analytics purposes.

Is Upgrading and Updating Software Really That Hard Now?
A key tenet of SaaS was to help reduce the cost and pain associated with upgrading and maintaining "shrink-wrapped" software. In 2016 and beyond, upgrading and managing software and systems is not as hard as it used to be. Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), microservices, serverless computing, and managed cloud-native services are making it relatively easy to upgrade and deliver software.

If both the SaaS provider and the consumer have access to the same set of tools on the same cloud platform, what is the real value-add from the SaaS service? Just the software, right?

Upended Revenue Model
Over the years most SaaS services have been delivered on a "per-user" based annual subscription model. If a SaaS license for one user is $100 per year, and the enterprise bought licenses for 100 users, the enterprise would pay $10,000 per year. In the pre-IaaS days, this might have been great economics for both parties - the SaaS vendor and the SaaS buyer. But not anymore.

The customer now wants true pay-as-you-go or consumption-based pricing. This means paying for actual transactions when actual costs are actually incurred. This is especially true now that SaaS providers migrate to IaaS platforms that offer transaction-based pricing. The SaaS providers' underlying cost basis for infrastructure and related components is truly hourly and consumption driven. This has huge implications. Let's see this through a sample scenario.

Assume those 100 users consume 100 GB of space and five cloud servers. The customer adds another 50 users but because of limited usage, the storage and compute requirements did not really change much. Why should the customer pay an additional $5,000 for those additional 50 users, if the underlying incremental costs did not change that much?

SaaS buyers are starting to think real hard when deciding between a "per-user" SaaS annual subscription model versus a "cloud-hosted" managed "shrink-wrapped" solution. Given that in both scenarios the "raw material" is the same cloud platform.

Security and Compliance
Most newer entrants to the SaaS market underestimate the cost and complexity associated with the "Ops" part of the business. Many SaaS providers struggle with issues around vulnerability management, security scanning, compliance reporting, backup and recovery and service uptime. There are many factors for this. One of them is the changed cybersecurity environment. Buyers are demanding evidence of security best practices. Industry recognized certifications such as HIPAA, FFIEC, FedRAMP, or ISO 27001 are increasingly required by customers from SaaS providers. These come at a heavy price.

Further, as enterprises get better with cloud services, they are increasingly seeking access to their data stored on SaaS platforms. Data residency, access control and enterprise risk management are difficult questions that must be addressed. Now that the enterprise and the SaaS service are operating on the same cloud platform, the argument for "dedicated" SaaS is increasingly coming up.

Fast Forward to the Past?
As enterprises get comfortable with hyperscale cloud platforms such as AWS, there is a serious need to carefully evaluate the SaaS value proposition. New distribution models such as cloud marketplaces are making it easier for cloud buyers to find and deploy enterprise software within their own cloud environments. Wanting control on the data and emergence of data science are causing enterprises to view their data more strategically.

Will we see Application Server Providers (ASP2) that focus on delivering great software hosted within "dedicated" cloud environments or within the clients' cloud environment? Will the SaaS revenue model change from a per user annual subscription to a pay-per-call model as serverless computing takes shape?

Making the right strategic decisions is critical for both cloud services buyers and providers to ensure their ability to sustain and thrive in the cloud computing age. The emergence of serverless computing, cloud marketplaces and pay-per-call transaction pricing offer entrepreneurs a rich canvas to build the next generation of cloud-native services.

Industry Perspective
"Pricing, governance and security are key for enterprises consuming multiple SaaS services. It becomes challenging to understand the security footprint of the system as a whole as the number of SaaS services consumed increases." - Derek Collison, CEO and Founder, Apcera.

Call-to Action
Cloud executives both on the vendor and enterprise buyer sides must carefully evaluate and understand new cloud deployment and consumption patterns. Taking a strategic look at Managed IaaS, PaaS, Container-as-a-Service or Micro Marketplace deployment models is critical.

More Stories By Gaurav Pal

Gaurav “GP” Pal is CEO and Founder of is stackArmor. He is an award-winning Senior Business Leader with a successful track record of growing and managing a secure cloud solutions practice with over $30 million in annual revenues focused on US Federal, Department of Defense, non-profit and financial services clients. Successfully led and delivered multi-million-dollar Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud migration and broker programs for US Government customers including the Department of the Treasury, and Recovery Accountability & Transparency Board (RATB) since 2009.

GP is the Industry Chair at the University of Maryland’s Center for Digital Innovation, Technology and Strategy (DIGITS). He has strong relationship-based consultative selling experience with C-level executives providing DevOps, Managed Services, IaaS, Managed IaaS, PaaS and SaaS in compliance with US FedRAMP, FISMA, HIPAA and NIST Security Frameworks. He has a successful track record of delivering multiple cloud solutions with leading providers including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google and among others.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...