SaaS, If It Was Easy, Everybody Would Be Doing It

Cuil and MobileMe, two online SaaS services that struggled to get out of the gates the past few days and weeks. Both experienced different types of problems, but they were both very visible problems for their respective companies. First, Cuil. I blogged yesterday that Cuil was returning some odd results, paring James Mitchell Ashley's old picture with some of my content. Well it turns out that if you just kept searching a bit more, you'd start to see even wackier results that just didn't make any sense. A search engine that doesn't produce accurate results won't last long once people have 1, 2 or 3 bad experiences and go back to whatever they were doing before.

Cuil's problem wasn't that they didn't anticipate the traffic to their site (which they didn't.) They chose to do a full product launch rather than a soft launch, or Google-style beta. Microsoft's taken that lessen to heart and the folks at Cuil would do well to do the same.

The Apple MobileMe product meltdown was even worse. Apple tried to launch MobileMe, convert existing users, roll out updated iPhone 2.0 software, and provide MobileMe as a paid service. Hmm... Big mistake. Apple even had to resort to putting up a MobileMe - Status page to keep everyone informed of Apple's progress to try and get the service up and running.

The lesson in all this is that rolling out SaaS products isn't the same as traditional software, just as designing SaaS for multi-tenancy and scalability is much different than designing on premise software. Flash cuts don't cut it with SaaS software. Building in only marginal extra capacity doesn't cut it either. One Digg and it could seem like the whole Internet is doing a "student body left" shift right on top of our product launch.

If you're moving down the path towards a SaaS or S+S offering, take some lessons from those before you. You could avoid repeating a lot of the same mistakes.

Like this? Here are some of Mitchell's recent posts.Another Cuil Search Engine On The BlockMicrosoft Cloud Initiative Announcement LoomingPodcast/Video: Xobni & Co-Founder Matt BrezinaIs Live Search Making Headway Against Google?Live Mesh Sighting For MacsS+S: The Kobayashi Maru of Microsoft Product Reviews: Microsoft Live Mesh Google App Engine LiveNewsCameras.com Xobni Outlook plugin Recent Converging Network Blog Posts: Get Ready For XaaS Everywhere Unbelievably Bad Web Password Security Back From Hiatus, Saved by Web 2.0 Technology It Takes a Village.. ah, actually, being there first and tons of hard work

Favorite Book Recommendations: The Big Switch Zero Day Attack Clear Blogging

Check out Mitchell's Converging On Microsoft Podcast. Current Podcast Episode: Security Mike Gets Serious About Security

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