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The Tao of SaaS

The Tao of SaaS

Strategies for SaaS Businesses from

The SaaS Explosion of 2013 -- Part I, "The Client-Side Pull"

Garner predicted cloud growth would be 21% percent in 2011.  IDC predicts SaaS growth at 25.3% CAGR through 2014.  Forester predicts SaaS will account for 26% of the package software market by 2016, while Deloitte forecasts that only 4.3% of On-Premise software spending will be replaced by SaaS.


Everyone believes the SaaS market is growing; some more rapidly than others.  


I believe the inflection point for adoption of SaaS will come in 2013 -- We will hit the infamous knee of the curve and the acceleration of SaaS adoption will reach an all time high.


This post discusses forces impacting the client side applications and devices that will help drive SaaS adoption.  Half of the road to SaaS is moving the user interface from an old style/client server to a modern browser interface.  


The drive to web and mobile app interfaces, and web services accelerates the drive to SaaS.



Top 5 reasons why client interfaces will accelerate SaaS adoption


1)    Client/Server architectures are dead - long live HTML5


April 8, 2014 == January 1, 2000


Windows XP's market share was 47 percent in January of 2012.   On April 8, 2014, Microsoft drops support for Windows XP resulting in the end of updates to resolve malware issues.


Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information.


The migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8 will accelerate dramatically around April 2013 when CIOs realize they need to move their base off of Windows XP long before support is discontinued.


Windows XP does not support IE9, the first Microsoft Browser with (basic) HTML5 support.   More complete HTML5 support from Microsoft will come with the general release of IE10 later in 2012.  IE9 is also the first Microsoft browser to support auto update pioneered by Google with Chrome, and later adopted by Firefox.  This is crucial since auto updates keep browsers current and avoid the problem of the old, dated browser requiring browser based applications to support old versions.  


We need Windows XP to die so people will move off of their old browsers to modern browser with HTML 5 support and the move to new browsers with auto updates to keep up with the rapidly evolving HTML5 implementations.  The the client base moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8, the user based will also migrate to some modern browser.  


This migration to modern browsers will end the most typical reason why CTOs cling to their old client/server architectures (and Silverlight and WPF) rather than build new project on HTML5.  There will finally be a very high percentage of the user base running on an update-to-date browser with far fewer inconsistencies between browser versions than in the past.



2)    Client side programmers are moving to HTML5


HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3 is nowhere near as good as WPF, Silverlight, Flash, Flex, etc.  
Get over it!

Yes, I know JavaScript is significantly flawed, making it harder to write and maintain large projects.  It is getting better with new frameworks making HTML5 based development much better.  A major problem has been the inconsistent browser support that is getting better with modern browsers as discussed above.  


But the war has been won (or is about to be won) by HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3.  This will result in most new clients apps being written for a browser further driving the adoption of SaaS.  The most telling sign of this is the rapid adoption of HTML5 by the development community with over 50% of client side developers now becoming fluent in HTML5.



3)    Mobile devices are SaaS consumers 


Do you really want Citrix Desktop running on an iPad?


It is hard to believe the iPad was first announced two years ago.  Mobile devices drive SaaS adoption because legacy client/server applications don't (really) work on mobile devices. Virtually all companies I work with are furiously fleshing out their mobile strategy.  Increasingly that means building HTML5 applications rather than a unique application for each mobile platform.   When a mobile application, be it browser based, or an iOS or Android application are built on a web services interface, you are half way to a SaaS implementation.  



4)    The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) revolution 


Saying "Bring Your Own Device" is an IT Trend is like saying peanut butter in school lunches is a trend.
Paul French, "ReadWrite Enterprise"

The end-user has won, and the traditional IT control of the user's device is quickly ending.  It is no longer just a Windows PC and a Blackberry, but now also iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and Macs.  The adoption of these new platforms is another pull to move away from client/server and their VPN interfaces and to a world dominated by Web Services provided by SaaS applications.



5)    The Facebookification of the User Interface 


"That looks like Windows 95"
A doctor commenting on a (client/server) Electronic Medical Records GUI


Business users expect modern interfaces.  That means no Windows95 style, 3270 redux, or Citrix interfaces.  Users expect a modern look and feel with a user experience like they experience as consumers.  Client/Server interfaces are getting very dated very fast.  


The Consumerization of the UI drives business applications to browser-based applications.


Coming Next -- Part II, "The Server-Side Pull"




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