The SaaS train leaving the station without Microsoft

Microsoft Subnet welcomes our newest blogger, Mitchell Ashley, CEO of Converging Network, LLC. He is blogging on assignment for Microsoft Subnet from the Software & Information Industry Association conference in San Jose this week. Microsoft is noticeably absent from the SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) conference I am attending this week in San Jose, CA. While Microsoft doesn’t have a formal corporate presence at this SaaS (Software as a Service) centric conference, the Microsoft name has been used in vein more than a few times. Just as open source is counter culture in software developer circles, SaaS is the counter culture equivalent to traditional IT applications. SaaS solutions aren’t sold to traditional IT organizations, but rather to business leaders; CEOs, COOs and VPs of business functions. Network and data center operations may get involved but the people signing the deals are in the business units, not in IT. Where we typically see Microsoft playing a big role, different players like Salesforce.com, Amazon and Cicso WebEx are providing web services and middleware enablement platforms for creating SaaS applications. Oracle has also joined the counter culture revolution of SaaS, but platforms like Salesforce.com AppExchange, Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services), EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and S3 (Simplified Storage Service) dominate the deployment of many SaaS business applications. Cisco WebEx has their own WebEx Connect collaboration platform they are wooing independent software vendors to join. Microsoft’s SaaS On-Ramp Program is about working with hosting providers, bundling existing products and discount pricing, such as with the recently announced Microsoft Solution for Windows-based Hosting for Applications program. This supports “SaaS-ifying” existing Microsoft technology-based applications so they can operate in a SaaS services business model. But, what new SaaS companies want is a technology environment that is very fast and easy to create, build and maintain SaaS applications. Today, new SaaS business are building on Salesforce and Amazon technologies to gain the speed efficiencies, and also take advantage of the partner ecosystems that revolve around these platforms. In many cases, SaaS startups bypass traditional IT development tools and are building business around these platforms and rapid application development tools. Microsoft’s challenge is more than supporting the hosting providers. They don’t want the software infrastructure to slip away to someone else’s technology. You never want to count Microsoft out, but today Redmond is significantly behind where the SaaS industry is heading. While Linux is the threat to the Windows operating system, SaaS could be an even greater threat to the rest of the Microsoft software stack. Next week, watch for Mitchell's Microsoft Subnet blog at http://www.networkworld.com/community/ashley You can also catch up with him at his other blog, The Converging Network, and listen to his popular podcasts (If you are interested in doing some guest blogging for Microsoft Subnet while attending conferences, contact editor Julie Bort at microsoftsubnet@nww.com)

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