Are independent software vendors (ISVs) prepared for the next generation of service integration and intermediation?
Over the last several years we have discussed the opportunities and challenges of moving to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. At Savvis, we have spoken to hundreds of software companies and each seems to be at various stages of their SaaS migration. Some have built out their own infrastructure because a cloud service did not exist when they were going to market or they jumped, feet first, into a cloud platform and are now reaping the benefits. For whatever reason, the choice was made and execution began.
So now we're in early 2012 and ISVs are evaluating or re-evaluating their prior infrastructure decisions. SaaS is going through a metamorphosis. That is, ISVs are looking for new channels to market and having someone else sell their Software-as-a-Service on their behalf. If, as an ISV, you haven't already begun planning for intermediation, aggregation, integration and trust, you need to.
Let me start in reverse order: You must find a cloud platform that you can trust. It isn't just about you trusting the infrastructure on which your application is running, but also about what your customers need. Your enterprise customers are evaluating the application AND they want the peace-of-mind of knowing that their application is running on enterprise-grade infrastructure and that the cloud provider hosting it has the experience to manage and secure their cloud effectively and efficiently. Enterprises also want to know that the application can scale appropriately in the cloud and can grow and expand globally.
Enterprises also need applications that integrate with legacy applications and infrastructure. The best way to achieve this is for you to run your application in a data center where your customers already have a footprint. Instead of trying to integrate applications over the Internet, it makes sense to place your application with a service provider that has network experience and a global backbone so that data can be manipulated securely with private connectivity. A simple example of this is a cross-connect. A cross-connect offers off-Internet connectivity where data can be prioritized through quality-of-service.
Your application will also need a robust set of APIs. Over the next several years, your application will be driven through a set of services, such as user access, billing, monitoring, management and auto-scaling, just to name a few.
Another consideration is aggregation. You want to run your application in a cloud where other applications are running. When your cloud provider hosts a broad and comprehensive set of business applications, it makes it easier to integrate with the services that your enterprise customers demand.
Lastly, if you haven't already, you need to begin thinking about intermediation. In the future, you may be considering new channels to market and need assistance accessing enterprise customers or maybe you are considering going down-market into the small and medium business (SMB) space. Your cloud provider should be able to assist you with this.
Innovation is everywhere, and focusing on your application and expanding it to meet future needs will bode well for the future of your software business. I look forward to your comments.
Larry Steele is technical vice president, Software-as-a-Service, at Savvis, a CenturyLink company.