Think all SaaS delivery approaches are essentially the same? You're mistaken.
And what you don't know about the topic could hurt your business.
Contrary to all of the noise in the market about the benefits of using cloud-based solutions, the reality is all SaaS delivery approaches are not created equal. Most software buyers remain blissfully unaware that hosted solutions are actually delivered in two distinct "flavors" - let's refer to them as Pure SaaS (P-SaaS) and Ghetto SaaS (G-SaaS). Knowing how to spot the difference and recognize the advantages to be gained by aligning your company with Pure SaaS solution providers is the key to forming solid, long-lasting, and scalable technology partnerships across your company.
OK, so what's the difference and why should I care?
A Pure SaaS provider develops solutions that are designed for the good of the platform, using best practices for a body of customers with similar needs. All clients are in a single, usually highly configurable, instance of the software that is upgraded by the solution provider at routine intervals. This means that continuous innovation is a guarantee in the Pure SaaS model - and that all clients benefit from the advances that the customer base demands. Because Pure SaaS solutions are designed with configurability top of mind, there is no need for costly or time consuming custom coding and implementations are usually swift and relatively painless. Pure SaaS solutions are remote-hosted and typically available on a subscription basis (in other words, no license fees), providing maximum flexibility for the buyer with minimal, if any, need to involve IT resources to support the technology.
At this point, you are probably thinking, "That makes sense. I can save time and money by avoiding expensive custom coding and removing IT resources from the equation, but I expect as much from any SaaS solution, so what really differentiates Pure SaaS?" The answer: Pure SaaS providers have a very unique advantage in that they are positioned to provide a far superior customer support experience – from the sales process to implementation to routine support to system expansion. The Pure SaaS delivery model enables these providers to respond to your business more quickly, resolve universal system issues from a single code base, and solicit feedback on platform enhancements. Pure SaaS providers such as Salesforce, Sugar CRM, Pardot, and others are notoriously agile and remain ahead of their competitors with respect to product advancements due to a focus on culling customer feedback and incorporating it into the development roadmap. Simply stated, a Pure SaaS platform truly belongs to its customer base - and these customers benefit as the rising tide lifts all boats. Another plus is that due to reduced system complexity in Pure SaaS environments, these vendors are usually more profitable, making for more stable business partners.
By comparison, Ghetto SaaS (G-SaaS) delivery is essentially what used to be referred to as Application Service Provider (ASP) operating under the veil of SaaS or "Cloud" naming. In this scenario, the provider also offers a remote hosted solution that is available for a subscription, but, for the most part, the similarities stop there. Ghetto SaaS providers customize their code base to accommodate unique (or cranky) clients, gradually painting themselves into a corner with respect to customer support demands and killing any hope for a clear vision within their product development roadmap. Also, from the customers' perspective, there is a great deal of risk - as well as potential future cost – associated with operating a business in a custom code environment. Add to this that G-SaaS customers fail to receive the product enhancement benefits that can be derived from the collective users of a platform; they are stuck in their own world view or release schedule/version which, while tailored, is destined to become limiting. This issue can be further complicated by the fact that G-SaaS providers often charge these customers for upgrades and newer releases as these are considered custom service projects. By comparision, within P-SaaS environments new releases are usually standard, introduced at regular intervals, and included within a flat-rate subscription.
Given the pace of innovation, why pigeon hole your organization into a custom code scenario - even one that is remote hosted? Don't make the mistake of partnering with a solution provider that tells you this is OK, that you are big enough or wise enough or unique enough to tackle your business' technology needs in this manner. This approach just doesn't make sense anymore - and there are too many advantages to be gained by ensuring that your business takes the Pure SaaS route.