One of the key questions I get asked is: ‘What happens if my saas provider goes away?’ There’s no denying the market is moving very quickly and that vendors are popping up almost on a monthly basis. It is therefore a legitimate question when there are so many players, the market is immature and has yet to consolidate. The risk that you might wake up one day and find you can’t gain access is real. The recent demise of tr.im (and its subsequent resurrection) is a case in point. There are plenty of other examples in the TechCrunch deadpool. Similarly, you can never be sure if your provider is building to flip as a potential acquisition target. What happens when a vendor gets acquired?
Past experience suggests that many applications are slowly but irrevocably retired or don’t see the development effort customers might otherwise expect. That isn’t always the case. I can easily imagine a large vendor coming to the market by acquisition though I would be sceptical about how well that might work.
One answer is to request that code is put into escrow. One announcement caught my eye:
“A recent report from Forrester shows that SaaS backup and security policies are one of the three major concerns of companies interested in SaaS, which Gartner predicts will comprise 9% of total software sales by 2012. Escrow Associates designed their SaaS contract to address the fears of the growing market, protecting data and software at a secured location, and making it available when needed.”
The internationalization of saas doesn’t make managing this aspect any easier. However, for the UK, the NCC has put out a helpful set of resources that buyers might find useful.