As vendors start embracing SOA, Software as a Solution (Saas) will become commonplace in the near future.
Every tech magazine has article after article on SOA and how its transforming businesses. Companies selling packaged software are early adopters of SOA. If you take a step back and put your Tivo on slow mo, can you see what the next wave is? In my opinion its SaaS. As vendors continue to create more process centric and service enabled products, it is becoming increasingly easier to integrate not only with the 3rd party packages but with services within those packages. If payroll is not your core competency, why fill your data center up with servers and packaged software when you can call payroll services from the vendor's computer center and display the contents in your own portal? Look at all the money you can save by not having to manage and maintain the application, the servers, and monitor the performance. No need to pay for disaster recovery or business continuity, the vendor can provide all of that. How much money can you save in electricity, human resources, floor space ,etc.?
Has the light bulb come on yet? How is this different from hosted solutions known as the ASP? In the ASP model, the software solutions are confined behind the vendors walls. Your applications cannot directly communicate with these systems. What's worse is you probably have some ugly batch extract processes that feed data between your enterprise and the vendor. Then you have batch jobs that run at night and post updates. This can create synchronization issues and move you further away from the goal of having "real-time" data. With SaaS, your systems can integrate seamlessly with the vendors services and the need for the ugly extract processes go away. The SaaS solutions can integrate with your systems real-time making the user experience much more productive.
Is it here yet? Almost. Most vendors are in the early stages of the SOA maturity model. I predict that in the next 3-5 years, SaaS will be as common as the IPod is today. For now, all we can do is plan for the future. So, get your applications service oriented now so you will be ready for the SaaS age.
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