Custom SaaS Calls for RAD PaaS

I will bet that in some form or fashion you have Software as a Service (SaaS) in your organization. Now, I am not talking about packages that have been purchased and installed on your servers – I am talking about true SaaS. Where the software is running in the ‘cloud’ on your SaaS provider’s servers. There is a lot of hype around SaaS and the hope that in the near future all your applications will simply be purchased in the cloud and start working immediately. Sounds great – right?


Reality check!

For most of us in Enterprise IT, the reality is that what makes our business different is the way we go about delivering our products and services to the market. This means that an off-the-shelf, standardized SaaS application is not going to solve our needs. Sure, SaaS is great for many of the commodity processes like payroll processing, accounting, etc. But what about the processes that make your business unique – is SaaS going to work here?

Many organizations I have talked to are trying to force-fit SaaS to work for these unique processes. They are struggling with wanting to customize their SaaS, which is difficult. I see things like only using pieces of the SaaS app and trying to build new application functionality for the processes that are unique. Why are they doing this?
Well, for one, the promise of getting the application up and running really fast is a big attraction to the business. SaaS makes this possible due to the zero time and cost associated with setting up the infrastructure to run the application. But all of these SaaS benefits are lost once you start customizing it. When you try to adapt the SaaS offering to your unique needs, what started as a really fast time to market initiative, will quickly turn into a nightmare of tweaking and hacking an inadequate API and data model.
This might seem counter intuitive, but I think the answer lines in Platform as a Service (PaaS). Let me explain, we are starting to see new, extremely productive and easy to use PaaS offerings that give you rapid application development (RAD) with ‘instant’ setup to get your project started immediately. I like to call this “RAD PaaS”. Even more interesting… what happens when you couple free applications with the RAD PaaS environment? Now you can quickly deliver a custom fit application faster than you could configure the SaaS package. Thus, the new wave of RAD PaaS offerings will provide a custom SaaS experience, spelling the end of SaaS for anything but a truly standardized business processes.
OutSystems recently published a new eBook highlighting three customers who delivered unique applications in the cloud. Two of these examples are actually about replacing existing SaaS applications and taking advantage of this new generation of RAD PaaS offerings to accelerate deliverability and cut costs.
So, how about your business? Is SaaS working for you? Have you tried RAD PaaS yet?
About the author

Mike Jones

Mike is a professed 'hater' of complexity. He has been in the IT industry since the mid 80's where he learned his technical skills at EDS and Texas Instruments. He believes there is a simpler way for IT professionals to deliver business value that requires a pragmatic mix of agile methods and application development tools.

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