Sunday, March 4, 2007

SAAS Evolves Beyond "No Software"

John Loftus, Executive Vice President of Safeguard Scientific, and a board member of Authentium, just sent me a copy of Boenning & Scattergood's newsletter of Feb 27th. I'm very glad he did.

In this report, analysts Bradley L. Mook and Michael F. Ciarmoli focus on recent movements within the software-as-a-service (SAAS) sector. Clearly, they are impressed by the decision taken by RightNow Technologies to move their entire business to renewable SAAS-based subscriptions - a move that has recently impressed RightNow's shareholders as well.

But, even aside from their analysis of the rapid growth other companies are starting to show in this area, what really caught my eye was their endorsement of RightNow's decision to include an end point software agent in their delivery model, as part of RightNow 8.

Up until quite recently,'s "no software" (translation: "no end point software") marketing message has ruled the SAAS roost - and, without other clear examples of SAAS, analysts have often excluded "client software" from the SAAS model. However the B&S report, among others, shows that things are evolving away from the simple server-browser model that brought SAAS into the world.

In parallel to the SalesForce AppExchange model, which supports the delivery of simple, web-based (no-software) applications, a new model is emerging - one that blends the SAAS commercial model with client-server, non-browser-based encrypted communications, and complex end point functionality.

RightNow is using this approach - distribution of an end point agent - to improve client-server communications and optimize information security and transfer within RightNow 8. Our own Authentium ESP (Extensible Service Platform) system uses this system even more extensively - to deliver and update complex software technologies, such as antivirus engines, encryption engines, end point firewalls, and VPN technologies - to networked end points, under a SAAS subscription model.

This doesn't mean the SalesForce model of "no software" is doomed - far from it. My prediction is that in future, the "no software" model will persist for simple applications that can be served up by a web server. However for security companies charged with protecting local assets or personal data, the SAAS model will evolve to include even more complex end point applications, served up and/or updated on demand, as per a SAAS-based subscription agreement.

For, it probably feels like they are miles down the SAAS path. I'm sure Right Now feels like they're just hitting their stride. Authentium, and other companies moving client software into the SAAS model - we're just getting started.

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