Founder & Managing Director at THINKstrategies, Inc
Jeff Kaplan is the founder of THINKstrategies, the only independent strategic consulting firm dedicated to helping enterprise IT decision-makers and technology solution providers achieve their business objectives by leveraging the value of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cloud computing and managed services.
Jeff founded THINKstrategies to address the unprecedented IT/network management and sourcing issues facing enterprise IT executives, IT solutions providers and venture capital firms today. Jeff has a history of success working with clients from each of these sectors.
Jeff has over twenty years of experience and recognized expertise in IT/network management, SaaS, managed services, cloud computing, telecommunications and outsourcing trends. Prior to founding THINKstrategies, Jeff was a leading industry analyst at IDC, Dataquest, and META Group, and successful senior marketing executive at InterOPS Management Solutions and International Network Services (INS). Jeff also founded the Software-as-a-Service Showplace® and Managed Services Showplace®, the leading vendor-independent online directories and best practice resource centers in these rapidly growing marketplaces.
Jeff is a senior advisor to Triple-Tree, LLC. He also serves as a member of the On-Demand Services steering committee of the SIIA; and the chairman of the SaaS/cloud computing/managed services track of NetworkWorld's IT Roadmap and Interops. He has also served as a member of the AMR Research Board of Directors. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and contributing columnist for BusinessWeek Online, Mass High Tech Journal, Financial Times of London, NetworkWorld, Business Communications Review, ComputerWorld, InfoWorld, InformationWeek, and Web Host Industry Review on topics including managed services, software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud computing, outsourcing strategies; network and systems operations, service level management (SLM); and IT ROI and TCO calculations. Vist the THINKstrategies' website to view our latest columns & commentaries.
As traditional on-premise independent software vendors begin to realize they must transform their products to the new “cloud” business model, they may rush to bring Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings to market prematurely.
This article describes two architectual approaches to a moving to a SaaS deployment model: virtualization and multi-tenancy.
Today’s leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies continue to steal share from their legacy, independent software vendor (ISV) counterparts due to rising demand for their cloud-based application alternatives. However, many of those offering enterprise SaaS solutions are also seeing their sales costs rise as well. This is raising some serious questions about the short- and long-term profitability of the SaaS model compared with its traditional, on-premises predecessor. This commentary examines the industry implications of these trends.
Oracle's (Nasdaq: ORCL) recent acquisition of RightNow (Nasdaq: RNOW) raises a question: Can multiple cloud companies be merged together to form a tightly coupled suite of solutions like those which were promised but never delivered during the client-server era? On the face of things, it would appear that merging cloud companies together should be relatively easy and straightforward since many of them already interconnect with the advent of application program interfaces (APIs). Alas, not every cloud company is built the same. Like snowflakes, cloud company architectures, programming languages and a myriad of other operational pieces and parts can differ dramatically.
Channel companies must accept that the cloud fundamentally disrupts their traditional business models. They must recognize that meeting their customers' rising expectations requires transforming their go-to-market strategies and services. It changes the skills required, the sales tactics, the value propositions and service delivery methodologies. This article discusses the channel opportunities and challenges which were examined at the second annual Cloud Channel Summit on November 5, 2012.
One of the greatest myths about the rapidly expanding array of cloud services is that they will eliminate the need for a myriad of traditional IT consulting services because of the promise of an easier, quicker, and less expensive deployment process. The tremendous success of the first wave of cloud adopters will fuel even broader adoption in the coming year, fueling even greater demand for consulting services to guide the cloud migration process.
Despite Amazon Web Services’ service outage, and service disruptions suffered by other major Cloud service providers over the past year, the growth of the Cloud marketplace continued to accelerate in 2011. This movement will continue to grow in 2012 because it is delivering tangible and measurable business benefits to organizations of all sizes. Here are ten trends which you can count on in the coming year and should factor into your thinking as you put your plans, policies and procedures in place to capitalize on the unprecedented business opportunities created by the Cloud.
SAP’s recent acquisition of SuccessFactors, along with a series of other moves by various players in the software industry, suggests that the human capital management (HCM) application market is about to become the latest battlefield between established and emerging players in the rapidly evolving cloud marketplace.
The recent announcement that IBM is acquiring DemandTec for approximately $440 million is the latest move by Big Blue – and most recent example across the broader marketplace – that Cloud analytics will be a key battleground for industry supremacy in the coming months.
The success of the cloud movement over the past year has spawned a proliferation of players seeking to win a share of this rapidly growing market. While the market opportunities appear to be endless, the "cloud rush" effect that has overtaken the industry is making it more difficult than ever for companies to clearly differentiate themselves and gain a leadership position in their particular segment of the market. Overcoming these challenges will become even harder in 2012 as the market becomes more cluttered.
SAP’s weekend announcement that it is buying SuccessFactors, along with Oracle’s recent move to purchase RightNow, raise the question of whether established vendors can quickly gain a foothold in the rapidly evolving cloud marketplace via acquisitions. Making a strategic move into a new market by buying recognized leaders within that sector is an age-old ploy that can accelerate the acquirer’s efforts to pursue an attractive new business opportunity. However, it is also a tactic that's fraught with pitfalls.
One of the most intriguing questions in the rapidly evolving cloud marketplace is whether Google can succeed in the enterprise. While Gmail and Google Apps are experiencing tremendous growth and appear to be making serious inroads within organizations of all sizes, Google still faces significant hurdles to become a major player in this segment of the market.
Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Model Metrics has a number of important implications for the cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industries. It is a sign of the stage of life of the “on-demand” services market. It is also an indication of the maturation of a key market leader in the rapidly evolving cloud/SaaS world. And it illustrates the growing importance of consulting services to broadening the adoption of cloud/SaaS alternatives across the mainstream marketplace.
THINKstrategies, the Cloud Computing Showplace and Rising Tide Media hosted the inaugural Cloud Channel Summit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, to give senior executives from across the cloud computing industry a forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities in building successful partnerships in the cloud. The cloud channel topic struck a nerve among the nearly 200 attendees who are tasked with trying to define the role of the channel and seeking to build relationships that can generate new revenue streams for both cloud vendors and their channel counterparts.
One of the biggest misconceptions in the cloud computing market is that Web-based services will disintermediate the channel because they are simpler and more user friendly, and have direct sales and delivery business models. While there is no question that the role of the traditional channel will be significantly affected by the rapidly evolving cloud market, there is still plenty of room for innovative channel organizations to operate. There are also plenty of opportunities for new types of channel partners to emerge and succeed in the cloud.
’ve longed believed that traditional channel companies in the tech industry could play a pivotal role in the rapidly evolving Cloud marketplace, despite various predictions that they were destined to be ‘disintermediated’ by the emergence of low-cost, ‘on-demand’ services. Rather than discard channel companies as a relic of the past, nearly every major Cloud vendor – both net-native and reincarnated hardware/software vendors – is now courting channel companies to gain a competitive advantage in the market.
Now that the concept of Cloud Computing is gaining widespread market recognition and acceptance, the key to sustaining its initial success is enlisting a broader array of channels to market that will win the trust of a wider cross-section of SMB and enterprise users.
When people think of traditional channel companies in the tech industry, a wide array of distributors, systems integrators (SIs), or value-added resellers (VARs) usually comes to mind. While these players continue to have an important role in the cloud -- despite some dire predictions to the contrary -- a new form of cloud-enabled channel is also beginning to emerge.
A new generation of cloud-based IM and SSO tools is now available that offers a much broader set of business benefits. Companies such as Okta, Ping Identity, and Symplified have designed their tools to be delivered as a service and procured on a pay-as-you-go basis. They perform the basic identity management and SSO functions more easily by giving the user a more intuitive administrator interface.
Despite the rapid growth of cloud-based alternatives to traditional, on-premise systems and business applications, the greatest barrier to broader user adoption continues to be lingering concerns about data privacy, security and ownership. Salesforce.com unveiled a new Data Residency Option (DRO) at Dreamforce '11, which could eliminate this obstacle to adoption and exponentially expand the addressable market for cloud solutions.
One of the most controversial aspects of today’s Web is the ability of vendors to monitor your behavior, so they can anticipate your needs and manipulate your actions. Many view this power as an invasion of privacy and a violation of commercial ethics. Others welcome these business practices, because they can make it easier to find things that satisfy our personal preferences. Until recently, the controversy surrounding this issue primarily focused on how companies like Google and Facebook are capturing user behavior on the consumer Web. But a growing number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud vendors are exploring how they can monitor and measure corporate user patterns.
One of the biggest misconceptions in the Cloud Computing market is that today’s new web-based services will ‘disintermediate’ the channel because of their simpler, more user-friendly solutions, and direct sales and delivery business models. While there is no question that the role of the traditional channel will be significantly impacted by the rapidly evolving Cloud market, THINKstrategies firmly believes there is still plenty of room for innovative channel organizations to operate. There are also plenty of opportunities for new types of channel partners to emerge and succeed in the Cloud.
Despite the fact that there is still plenty of debate about how to define "cloud computing," nearly every market research firm and industry survey suggests that a vast majority of corporate decision makers intend to adopt some form of cloud computing in the coming year or two.
Now that the overall viability of the cloud computing idea has been proven by a rapidly expanding assortment of customer success stories, the "cloud rush" is on, and the advertising wars have begun.
Cloud computing is quickly evolving from a topic of debate to a corporate imperative for organizations of all sizes. While many spent the past year trying to clearly define and understand the value of cloud computing – the ‘what’ and ‘why’ – nearly every market research survey suggests a growing number of IT and business decision-makers are moving forward in 2011 with various initiatives aimed at capitalizing on the potential savings and additional benefits promised by the ‘Cloud’.
The rapid growth of cloud computing services has been fueled by the following factors:
- The services are easy to acquire and use
- The services are economical and generate immediate benefits
- The services can be acquired and decommissioned on demand
These attributes may seem obvious, but they are fundamentally different from the precepts governing traditional/legacy datacenter systems, enterprise applications, and management policies.
Cloudbook Video: Do SaaS Companies Really Need a Multi-Tenant Architecture to be Successful?
January 31 2011
Jeff provides his views on whether or not a multi-tenant architecture is necessary for launching a successful SaaS application.
Every December brings a flurry of acquisitions in the tech industry aimed at taking advantage of year-end deals, which can better position the acquirers for new opportunities in the coming year. This past December was no exception, with many of the latest transactions focused on the rapidly evolving opportunities taking shape in the cloud computing arena.
A widening array of solution providers are recognizing the value of "SaaSifying" their operations and leveraging the cloud to reduce the cost and improve the quality of delivering their services. Some BPOs are migrating to SaaS/cloud-based services via acquisition. Other companies have been transforming labor-intensive manual business processes into more cost-effective and flexible SaaS or Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) industry-specific, vertical market offerings.
One of the subtle yet significant trends that I think we’ll see in 2011 will be a more orderly adoption of cloud computing solutions in the new year. In fact, I think it will become imperative for corporate decision-makers to gain greater control over the way their organizations acquire and utilize cloud services in order to ensure their success in the coming year.
The tremendous growth of the cloud computing market, despite shortcomings in some areas, is a testament to the level of pent-up frustration that exists within organizations of all sizes across nearly every industry with legacy on-premise software and systems, and the tangible benefits today's leading cloud vendors are quickly delivering to their early adopter customers. This article lists the trends which THINKstrategies believes will lead to even greater growth in 2011.
I've been suggesting for a while that the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry is moving into a new stage in which inter-enterprise applications are becoming the focus. At the same time, the lines of demarcation between software, business and information services are blurring. Two recent announcements exemplify these trends.
THINKstrategies has produced a series of industry presentations which examine why SaaS/Cloud Computing matter; shy established vendors face serious challenges migrating to a SaaS/Cloud Computing business model; and the impact these trends are having on channel organizations.
In 2009, THINKstrategies launched the Best of SaaS Showplace (BoSS) Award program to recognize SaaS companies who are offering solutions which deliver measurable business benefits for their customers. Since the BoSS Award program was launched, there have been over sixty (60) award winners ranging from well-known brand-name companies to little known niche players. This report is a compilation of the BoSS Award winners. It clearly illustrates the tangible benefits which today’s SaaS solutions are delivering to organizations of all sizes across nearly every industry. These stories also demonstrate why the SaaS market is growing rapidly and fundamentally changing the nature of the software industry.
Go to http://www.saas-showplace.com/bestofshowplaceawards.html to learn more about the BoSS Awards program, apply for an Award, or read about the latest Award winners.
The convergence of a series of major macro-market trends has sparked the emergence of a new generation of powerful and cost-effective, web-based solutions which are quickly becoming viable alternatives to traditional, on-premise software and systems, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computing. Yet, despite the growing examples of organizations gaining tangible and measurable business benefits from SaaS solutions, many corporate decision-makers are apprehensive about adopting these cloud-based services because of concerns regarding data privacy. They are particularly concerned about using services delivered by U.S.-based providers because of the ominous language contained in the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, commonly referred to as the U.S.A. Patriot Act. THINKstrategies believes these risks have been overly exaggerated and raise unfair questions about doing business with U.S.-based companies. Ironically, companies who avoid contracting with leading U.S. SaaS providers may be at greater risk of data privacy breaches by continuing to rely on traditional, on-premise software applications and locally hosted servers. This whitepaper examines the myths and realities of SaaS/Cloud Computing, the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and data privacy, with a focus on the CRM arena. It also recommends reasonable approaches to overcome common corporate concerns so businesses can fully capitalize on the potential benefits of SaaS/Cloud Computing.
Cloud Computing can add enormous value to existing enterprise IT assets - but only if the cloud is recognized as an opportunity for strategic integration, and not for mere migration of existing IT functions and models to someone else's data center. Peter Coffee and THINKstrategies' Jeff Kaplan discuss the business process goals, and the service management considerations, that should drive a cloud integration initiative.
The trend toward cloud computing is growing, but not all cloud players are benefiting equally. Some of the early trailblazers have already disappeared, having failed to attract the investments needed to stay alive, or having been gobbled up as larger competitors lumbered onto the playing field. Best-of-breed innovators are going to have to be nimble and quick to survive.
Cloud Computing offers clear advantages in terms of cost efficiency. So why are some companies still reluctant to move their IT operations skyward? There are several important reasons, but they all come back to the same thing: Many companies aren't ready to expose their business critical data and processes to the risks inherent in a shared environment. Private clouds could be the answer.
One of the first questions IT and business executives ask when they are considering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) soluting is, "Is it secure?" The Question usually has multiple meanings. IT and business executives want to ensure the privacy of their corporate data is protected. They also want to be sure they can regain control of their data if they are unhappy with their SaaS solution, or their SaaS vendor goes out of business or their services are seriously disrupted.
The real significance of the SaaS movement is that it changes the vendor-customer relationship. SaaS shifts the responsibility of successfully deploying and maintaining software applications from the customer to the vendor. This moves the burden to the vendor to ensure the success of the application.
From sharing services in data centers to cut costs, to accessing services in the cloud to cut them even more, IT departments seem to have come full circle. Now, some companies want to eliminate the sharing altogether and create private clouds under their own corporate roofs.
The success of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has inspired a new generation of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) players to emerge, seeking to gain a higher ground in a rapidly evolving "cloud computing" environment. In the PaaS market there are five P's which will determine the survival and success of suppliers, and their customers.
The role of the channel will certainly change the face of the rapidly evolving on-demand services market. However, there's still room for channel outfits to operate. User organizations of all sizes still need help with a myriad of decisions, such as evaluating and selecting the rapidly expanding array of SaaS providers and cloud computing vendors.
Despite a growing track record of success, Software-as-a-Service is still misunderstood by a surprising number of IT and business decision makers. It's time to put to rest some misconceptions about SaaS. Let's bust the five most common myths.
Despite growing evidence that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions can produce meaningful cost-savings and provide important new functionality, there are still IT/business decision-makers and industry observers who are unconvinced that these benefits are for real.
THINKstrategies' Managing Director, Jeff Kaplan, discusses SaaS trends and the implications on IT professionals, corporate end-users and executives, and major players in the market in these Converging on Microsoft podcasts hosted by Mitchell Ashley.