Monday, May 21, 2012

Sorry Sir, this club is SaaS only

Client: "....sounds great I'll take it. You do support on premise, don't you? We're an on-premise business"

Sorry Sir, we don't that. Let me explain why, Sir, by dispelling two software myths right off the bat.
1. companies that produce on premise software understand how to run it in production
2. your IT department can manage an app better than the SaaS company that makes it

Despite your disappointment and hurt feelings, Sir,  deep down you know that I'm right...

Client: "....I have some of the best ops guys in the business. You don't know my business"

  • Nice car Sir! Topped up the oil Sir? Water and air? But beyond that you probably leave car maintenance to the 'experts' Sir? The local dealer or the manufacturer that produces your car? Of course Sir, you're too busy and can't possibly spend the time to become a specialist in car maintenance Sir, can you? You are the car user but 'operations' is outsourced to a third party.
  • Nice house Sir! Assume you have running water, gas and electricity? Every one of these services is provided by a third party utility Sir? You could set up your own electricity generator and pump your own water from a well - but you don't have the time or infrastructure to do any of that do you Sir? You are a user and consumer of services, these services are provided by a third party.
Client: ".... nice examples - but this is software we're talking about. software is different....."
  • You run an on premise business Sir? Yes I understand. Your payroll is managed by ADP,  health by Blue Cross, copy machines by Xerox and email by Google, yes Sir? All the essential services you offer your employees are managed by third parties. These are the must-have "live or die" services you offer to your internal customers (your employees) and they had better be running in order for you to stay in business, wouldn't you say so Sir? You have implicit trust that these critical services are always available from these 3rd parties.

Now - lets consider the myths I mentioned shall we, Sir?

  • On premise software vendors spend years designing, writing, unit testing and performance testing their software. Excellent but they don't operate the software the way you do. Some companies "eat their own dog food" but there is no communication between those that operate the software and those that design the software. Since when does a product manager listen to the ops guy?  If they did perhaps there would less systems management, middleware and operations control software companies out there, wouldn't you say so Sir? And why is your maintenance budget so high? I suspect that your IT guys know parts of the software better than the on premise company that wrote it, because they run it every day in a real world setting with a mixture of other products and services.

  • SaaS companies are operating the software on a daily basis and their reputation depends on guaranteed service. For that reason, people designing the software consider the operational impact of their products and ensure that the revenue raised outweighs the costs to run and maintain. Many SaaS companies are deployed on a PaaS or an IaaS - meaning the specialism for managing the hardware, network and software stacks works on the principle of the division of labour - everyone focuses on doing a few jobs really well, instead of a lot of jobs really poorly. 


You know people aren't born with a natural understanding of any product or service. Why would you think that you can run this software yourself, better than the service we are providing Sir? We understand what we are building and how to operate it in a manner that ensures continued service and value to you.

So please, don't ask for on premise, we're not that kind of club.