Time for SaaS to grow up

by admin on October 13, 2009

in Cloud Computing/SaaS

AG Customer Bill of Rights – SaaS – Live

By the time regular readers see this, I’ll either be boarding a flight to London and SoftWorld. I’m laying this down as a marker for things I will be discussing with interested parties at that event.

The blow up I had over access controls was really the start of what I hope will be a journey of maturity for the industry. If nothing else it made me realize that what the industry perceives as ‘secure’ and what customers perceive are worlds apart. Add in the fact that in recent days we’ve seen a string of fiascos from some of the most mature companies in the tech space and you just know there’s a wake up call here – for everyone.

RayWang, my Enterprise Advocates colleague along with Jeremiah Owyang, a long time enthusiast for social networking, have produced a SaaS Customer Bill of Rights – see the scribd document above produced under their business moniker Altimeter Group. This is their work but I, along with other colleagues had some input to the document. That’s the nature of the new world of research and consulting. It’s almost like open source but with someone taking overall ownership. You’ll see more of this kind of thing in the coming months and years.

Late last year, another colleague Phil Wainewright set out a five point code of conduct for saas vendors. Has the industry come together to make that a reality? Not as far as I can tell.

While at SoftWorld I expect to meet some of the UK leaders in both the on-demand/saas world and on premise providers along with ICAEW people. I’d like to see the conversations move towards a meeting of minds where the industry’s agenda is more closely aligned to that of the end user. There need to be serious discussions around standards that can be applied in a non-competitive manner. Already we are seeing plenty of efforts to provide cross functional integrations through the use of web APIs. I applaud that move. But if it is done without regard to the safety of the end user then who carries the can? It is these and other similar issues I see as agenda items the industry need to address. Not on their terms but on terms that reflect the needs of customers. That’s why the work Ray, I and others do as customer advocates is so important at this time.

The industry has arrived at an inflection point. 2010 is going to see a rapid expansion in saas/on-demand. The industry owes it to itself and its customers to demonstrate the ability to do what could not be done in the past. Not just deliver value but make customer care a demonstrated and vigorous responsibility. The economics look good, the collaborative case has been made, services are coming along at a break neck pace. Now is the time to step up and grow up.

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Charles Verrier October 13, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Yep. Sidekick. Ouch.

Gary Turner October 14, 2009 at 2:12 am

Not wishing to come over as belligerent – me? never – but why should cloud apps and vendors be forced to adhere to a higher security standard than anyone else.

How about just focus on tech security full stop, why the cloud qualifier?

Anyone remember 25 million names, addresses and bank account details on a CD getting lost by HMRC 2 years ago?

Double standards?

Ben Kepes October 14, 2009 at 2:49 am

+1 for you Gary…. Everyone is talking about the Danger/Sidekick issues and the IBM/Air NZ debacle – all these are IT/Outsourcing issues not specifically cloud computing ones

People seem to miss that in all the hype (and no, before you take offence Dennis, I'm not suggesting you're hyping things)

Man – the things you need to do to ensure sensitivities aren't breached…

Dennis Howlett October 14, 2009 at 4:00 am

@gary – cloud providers make the security play time and again as part of their schtick so what's wrong with taking it to the next obvious place? In this piece I was referring specifically to the access control issue. It's a mess at multiple levels – I care not what the vendors say in this regard. I know it leaves open web API people uncomfortable but quite frankly the current playing field is an unholy shambles and would be regarded as out of compliance in some domains.

2010 is a great opp for the saas providers to strike out but like it or not they will be held to certain standards. Suck it up and get on with it is my position.

@ben – you do yourself no credit by sweeping the issues aside without explanation. You might get it but buyers don't.

BTW – has it occurred to anyone the reason this kinda backlash occurs and why I'm flagging it up now?

C'mon dudes – the industry has had a free ride to date. That's going to change.

Gary Turner October 14, 2009 at 10:45 am

Dennis, Happy to suck it up and uphold and even define the highest standards, my point was while were busy doing that, why other trad vendors are cut a free pass and permitted to throw data around on in Jiffy bags.

Dennis Howlett October 14, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Throw it around? Maybe – but who can catch it. The promise of SaaS is collaboration which the on prem guys can't deliver. But if you agree that's the case then can we please have it done in a professional and safe manner? All I"m asking is that vendors take ownership and not leave uncertainty in the minds of the end user.

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