Friday, 23 September 2011

Collaboration products for SaaS

This session gave an overview of SAAS  (Software as a Service) in the collaboration and social sector looking at the three main players Google Apps, LotusLive and Microsoft Office 365

SAAS is different to software. It's mainly pay as you go, outsourced, only lightly integrated, and configured not customised. Software tends to be the opposite, so they are complimentary to each other. Gartner believes that a hybrid model of a mixture  of in house and outsourced will be around for some years.

Google released Apps Premier Edition in 2007, and this was market altering. IBM and MS have been plying playing catch up ever since,  MS Office 365 not being released until June 2011.  Both are  investing heavily in this area.

Email and web conferencing are the most mature and popular applications in all suites.

Business drivers for moving to SaaS in this area are:
Agility, on line capabilities can be spun out quickly.
Cost savings, especially in education where solutions are free. Also not all workers require rich capabilities provided for example in MS Office
Scalability, eg in  web conferencing  which can be used for large meetings.

Inhibitors are:
Third party data storage may not be in-country
SAAS still a relatively new delivery model and downtime continues to occur, also risk mitigation, laws, etc are still evolving.
SAAS lacks integration with in-house systems and transferring data between in house and cloud systems sometimes leads to data loss esp between MSOffice and Google docs

So, you should look at SaaS for collabotartive tools to gain scalability, to decrease costs, to support disenfranchised users and to avoid or decrease the IT footprint. I was really surprised that no mention was made of offering a better service. It was certainly one of the drivers in our move to Google.

The strengths and weaknesses of the different offerings are:

Strengths - easy to use; low cost
Weaknesses - no web video conferencing, no software counterpart,  its only web so no hybrid solution ; it's missing some enterprise capabilities because it grew out of consumer product
Popular in Education and SMEs

IBM LotusLive
Strenghts - Familiar interface for IBM users
Weaknesses - Missing a portal; Email apps notes and inotes are incompatible; rarely a one to one mapping of SaaS to software
Popular in IBM installed based

MS Office 365
Strengths - Widest application portfolio; integrates with other MS products; Familiar interface
Weakness - can be expensive; Exchange and Office are comparable to their software counterparts, Sharepoint and Lync are not
Popular in education and enterprises

Decide whether SaaS as a delivery model is acceptable
Calculate your internal costs  - which are often not well understood
Clarify SaaS advantages over software
Decide on needed functionality
Segment the user base, decide who needs what. Especially important for MS licensing purposes
Create the migration and deployment plans, including escalation procedures

Quite a good overview of the three products, and interesting to see he differences in decision making about moving to SaaS in sectors which are not Education.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


George Credland said...

Can't Google+ be used to web videoconference and chat? I thought that was one of the catchy features to get people to use it?

jake said...

There are other vendors like HyperOffice, Zoho etc, which are smaller players, but bring equally good solutions in terms of functionality.

Sulakhe's said...

Google without Web Video Conferencing? It has that facility in gmail but that is not of much quality as it is an instant conferencing method.