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Entries in SaaS (7)

Tuesday
Apr102012

Connect Salesforce to Other Apps

Kapow Software released its latest cloud integration recently which lets users connect Salesforce - or any Force.com app - with any web-based data or business provider. Kapow Katalyst, as its called, allows for seamless sharing and automation across various platforms. And it all works without any coding. 

As Salesforce becomes more and more critical to the handling of various (and growing in number) business processes the need to integrate Salesforce with outside systems becomes necessary. Kapow has the right idea. 

Stefan Andreasen, CEO of Kapow Software, explains the need for this update well:

 

“We hear from customers that as Salesforce pushes deeper into their enterprise, the need for real-time, self-service integration between Salesforce and external web apps and websites is becoming a must-have, not simply a nice-to-have."

 

Beyond integration, the other major service the update offers is automation. The Kapow Katalyst Apex Generator allows for automation between any Force.com app and any other web-based application. This feature allows Salesforce, or any other Force.com application to become the center and focus of many different business processes. 

The best part of all this is that no coding is required. These applications bypass the Apex needed to connect any outside data or business processes to Salesforce. Kapow is simply streamlining the process. 

Overall, I'm pretty excited about this update. The need to automate and integrate various platforms is the key to productivity and doing it without code is pretty handy.

Friday
Jan132012

Saas BI: Pros and Cons

What are the pros and cons of gathering business analytics in the cloud? Let's take a look:

Pros

 

  • Since technology in the cloud doesn't have to be installed and maintained, it frees up more time for the employees to focus on the process of gathering and analyzing business intelligence. 
  • On a similar note, a company can start using SaaS BI technology more quickly since the installation process is bypassed entirely. 
  • Cloud vendors offer cheaper options usually since there isn't a need to purchase software or hardware (however, keep in mind that the cost will depend on the amount of usage).

 

Cons

 

  • Since technology in the cloud is still growing, it may be less complex than on-premise software but also less functional.
  • And of course, there's the always present concerns about security. Many IT professionals worry about the safety of data being sent over IP connections. 

 

Even though the pros slightly outweigh the cons in my analysis, it doesn't necessarily mean that SaaS BI is the right choice for your business. Clearly there are many factors to the considered and it seems to me that the choice will become more clear when cloud technology reaches its full potential. 

Monday
Dec192011

Easing Into Cloud Computing

Since I last focused on the risks in cloud computing and how they can easily be overcome, I thought I'd go even further this week and discuss the ways to make moving into the cloud just a little bit easier. 

The first thing to consider before making the move is, of course, security, the focus of my last article. Before moving to the cloud, a company usually has a variety of hardware-based security options that they compromise after moving to the cloud, these can range from Firewalls to Anti-Virus software to IPS and Web filtering. This move can be extremely costly for a company to make since the move to cloud computing is usually gradual and rarely an all-or-nothing approach. Most users will utilize cloud vendors in addition to their existing resources therefore any existing security measure should stay in place. 

Secondly, when moving to cloud computing it's best to consider all of the available options. The cloud isn't one homogenous entity, it's made up of a variety of services that can be used to best fit a company's needs. You should consider in what ways exactly can your company benefit from cloud computing then select the best resource for the jobs after examining its pros and cons. SiliconIndia published an article earlier today, 5 Mistakes Enterprises Make While Moving to the Cloud, that offers a great perspective on choosing the best cloud computing vendor,

SaaS solutions are apt for shared resource applications that are outsized. They are known to provide substantial cost reductions in CRM and ERP based solutions. However, they fail to satiate the large organization's security and compliance needs.

Nevertheless, the IaaS encompasses an assorted list of offerings such as leveraging the organizations in implementing their own security services, which is manageable but requiring the right amount of overhead in tapping the skilled IT expertise.

The PaaS solutions are slated to be the best for hosting web-based applications. However, they aren't able to provide customized security services and it often has very narrow OS option

Overall, the transition to the cloud can be a painless process when the most important issues are considered. Any company can ease its transition, simply by conducting the proper research.

Tuesday
Nov012011

Will Oracle Overtake Salesforce.com?

I’ve been looking at some recent analyst reports about Salesforce.com versus Oracle, Redhat, and VMware.  All three have commitments to cloud-based computing, and to offering Platform as a Service (PaaS) options that could rival Salesforce’s Force.com and Heroku.

Many of these reports focus primarily on Oracle as the most likely and direct rival to Salesforce.com in part because of Oracle’s long history of SaaS, data management, and its own CRM applications.   These analysts suggest that multi-tenancy approach used by Salesforce may have some limitations, particularly among large enterprise clients, that the virtualized approached being pursued by the likes of Oracle does not have.   Early last month, at its big corporate event, Oracle World, Oracle unveiled its Public Cloud offering.  Public Cloud includes middleware and database software that is hosted and managed by Oracle.  In addition, Public Cloud includes social networking software.

Some analysts argue that Oracle’s architectural approach to cloud-computing offers a better “isolation and control environment” over Salesforce. 

I’m not entirely convinced that Oracle stands to oust Salesforce from its current leading spot in the space.  Salesforce is used by millions of loyal subscribers.  Further, its various partnerships and wealth of complementary applications tie users to the platform, making it difficult to make the switch.  Oracle has a history of being complicated and complex.  Salesforce certainly has its own complexities, but it’s also very easy to jump in and begin working with.

 

 

Thursday
Aug182011

SaaS Evaluation and Implementation Teams

The other day, I wrote about the need to not prioritize technology over a careful and thorough needs analysis when shopping for a CRM (or any technological system for that matter).  I want to continue along that line of thinking a little bit.

Yesterday, I was on a conference call with a client and the team he’d put together to rollout a new Salesforce implementation.  The team consisted primarily of him, the manager, and three network guys.  Being a geek myself, I was very comfortable talking to the IT guys about servers, setup, moving data to the cloud etc. 

But when I asked about the actual setup of the app itself (reports, dashboards, custom fields, etc.), they were all silent.  None of them had any idea for what was needed because none of them actually had to use the application.  Now this example is likely pretty extreme.  For a cloud-based solution like Salesforce, it’s not like you really need three IT guys managing it.  Nevertheless, that’s who I got.

This team needed to include people representing the actual roles within the company who will be using the application.  It is impossible to successfully roll out a SaaS solution from a purely technological standpoint.  But because SaaS appears to have a technical edge, I think IT departments tend to have a disproportionate amount of influence on what solutions get selected and how they get implemented.  Don’t fall into this trap.

Your team needs to have voices from all areas in order to understand how each works, what each needs, and how the Salesforce implementation can be conducted so as to serve maximum need and maximum benefit.

Tuesday
May242011

PaaS

Analyst firm Forrester Research ranked Saleforce.com as the number one platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider in a recent report.  This is exciting news for those of us working with the Force.com development environment.  (FYI, Microsoft came in second place.)

Interestingly, Forrester’s report highlighted as a concern Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Heroku, the web development platform based on Ruby on Rails.  When the acquisition was announced, many folks questioned the value of adding Heroku to the Salesforce family.  I for one have not used Heroku, but it seems like it’s in line with the Salesforce.com strategy of becoming more a PaaS company rather than an SaaS company.  Not sure why Forrester would be concerned in this sense.  Perhaps it’s an issue of not being focused enough.  Thoughts?

Wednesday
Dec292010

Cloud Computing Categories

SaaS-Software as a Service (like Salesforce.com)

PaaS-Platform as a Service  (like Heroku)

IaaS-Infrastructure as a Service  (like Amazon's AWS)

Over the span of 2011, your company might find itself cloud-hopping across the three categories. Each is a complicated space in and of itself, with its own look at what is happening in cloud computing. Let's take  a quick look at each:

SaaS-Web applications that deliver functionality to end users. Customers  of SaaS companies are generally able to create their own integrations with other systems. This flexibility allows for companies to customize their process as never before. Customers of these SaaS companies are writing custom code--or apps--to add functionality. One end result of this capability is increased reliance and loyalty to the SaaS provider.

PaaS-Delivering a platform for the deployment of applications puts these companies in the business of using as well as deploying APIs.

IaaS-The cloud based model removes hosted servers and secure tunnels and interfaces from the picture. The shift is to API calls to increase storage or CPU.

Will ___-as-a-service continue to change the landscape--interfere with "the way it has always been done?" It seems  the model is on the upswing and consumers and companies are set to benefit if they are willing to adjust.   Interesting tools are starting to pop up that will compare costs of cloud providers. Cloud Marketplace services. Companies will also be able to take advantage of new services selling ready-to-use data, such as Windows Azure DataMarket.  It's going to be an interesting year of new ideas.

 Here we go, 2011.