Thursday, March 31, 2011

SaaS Vendors Take Note: You Can Operate in the Cloud but Not in a Vacuum

This week I watched a webinar that proposed that more responsibility of integration with SaaS applications needs to be carried by the software provider. Analyst Dana Gardner of Interarbor discussed this topic in the webinar and on his blog Workday recently announced its cloud-based integration services as part of its SaaS ERP offering, stepping up to the plate to provide tools that will ensure that customers can integrate to their own software. They very well may be setting a trend that other ISVs will need to keep up with.

It is clear that, while the convenience and specialization of cloud-based solutions opens a new opportunity for businesses to trim down their infrastructure and the associated maintenance costs and effort, it doesn't eliminate the need for integration. Instead, it calls for a new paradigm for data integration.

Unfortunately, the heavy middleware in enterprises today will have trouble keeping up with the increasing business demands for agility. Change is tough when no one wants to touch the integration for fear of breaking something.

With the growing dependence on cloud-based software, your customers need a new generation of integration that can streamline data flows as their business processes move freely across legacy, clouds, and collaboration portals. If you are a SaaS vendor you need to seriously think about how you can rise to the occasion for your customers. The better you do it, the happier your customers will be.

Workday addressed the challenge by buying an integration software company! That's not only an expensive way to go, but it means that now, in addition to domain expertise and software development teams for their ERP, they must also maintain expertise and developers in the rapidly-changing integration space. That's probably not a prudent business approach for most SaaS vendors.

The alternative is to embed, rebrand, and/or offer Agile Integration Software, such as Enterprise Enabler® in your offerings That way you get all the benefits without the headaches. I don't know if Workday's integration fits the Agile Integration Software model (see, but with AIS, even a SaaS software vendor is able to offer integration across cloud apps, and also incorporate on-premise backend legacy systems as well as pass data to and from your customer's SharePoint installations, on-premise or hosted.

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