Posts Tagged ‘SaaS’

On Premise Web Conferencing and Collaboration: A SaaS Alternative

October 1st, 2009

In today’s marketplace there continues to be a growing reliance on web-based solutions for driving collaboration to conduct business activities within a mobilized and decentralized workforce. Business is no longer just conducted in one physical building, but spans across many people in multiple locations — including on-the-road sales teams, employees working at home, and even business partners that are located across the globe.

That’s why web conferencing and other virtual collaboration solutions will continue to grow, especially since conferencing has become the glue that bonds dispersed enterprise teams in a global economy. However, when businesses decide to deploy web conferencing, or any other technology solution, there is an important technical question they must first answer. Where will the software live?

Of course the technology options in the market today allow companies to either have their Web conference software code to reside on the vendor’s server, commonly know as the SaaS option, or to house the software on their own internal server by taking the On Premise installation route.

Within each of these options are advantages and disadvantages that organizations need to be aware of so that they make the right comparisons and ultimately the best educated decision on which option is ideal for their business model.

One of the key advantages of deploying conferencing and collaboration solutions as a SaaS option is that it is extremely easy. Most hosted technologies can be downloaded and accessed by employees across an entire organization within just a few minutes.

The timeliness and ease of deployment offers a very attractive advantage to organizations that want a quick-fix conferencing solution that does not weigh down or require large IT resources. However, SaaS comes with some key hindrances like ongoing monthly fees, access security concerns, integration with other enterprise applications/sites and limits on customization that companies need to take into account.

Ongoing monthly fees can be a key concern for those organizations looking to carefully manage an already tight budget. For example, a mid-sized organization that uses a hosted conferencing solution can easily experience thousands of dollars in monthly fees which could significantly impact the organizations’ overall telecom spend for the year.

In addition, hosted solutions have some major access security challenges since the corporate data being shared via the web conferencing solution can be accessed by anyone who has the password and meeting ID. Ponemon Institute’s 2007 Annual Study: U.S. Cost of a Data Breach indicates that 40 percent of data breaches involved third party solution providers in 2007, up from 21 percent in 2005.

Finally, the inability to customize and integrate hosted solutions can put limits on the company’s brand imaging with customers, as well as hinder the seamless flow of how technologies can be accessed internally by employees.

On the other hand, companies can choose to have their collaboration technologies deployed as an On-Premise solution allowing them to own and manage the solution in-house. Since the company owns the technology, ongoing monthly fees paid to an outside provider is no longer a concern.

In addition, by owning the technology on-site, access security concerns are significantly mitigated since the service can be managed behind the company’s corporate firewall. Furthermore, the On-Premise route opens the door for integration and customization, allowing the company to not only brand their conferencing solution, but to also integrate the technology into their current online or telephony infrastructure.

Even with all of the advantages of On-Premise technologies, this approach does offer some disadvantages that customers need to be aware of.

The On-Premise approach can be a major cost driver because it requires that companies have substantial IT resources to deploy, manage, integrate and support their technologies on an ongoing basis. The quantity of internal resources required to manage On-Premise solutions means that this option is mostly accessible to larger corporations that have bigger budgets and sizable IT departments.

But now there are other alternatives in the market to the Hosted option and the On-Premise Software route for companies to consider. Some progressive companies have started developing conferencing and collaboration solutions that actually combine all of the benefits of the Hosted option, with all of the advantages of the On-Premise approach, into one solution, by introducing an On-Premise Plug and Play Appliance option into the web conferencing arena.


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Net Ready 2.0 – Time to Revisit “Net Ready”

August 16th, 2009

Net Ready

It been almost a decade since Net Ready was published (January, 2000) and a lot has changed since then. Now deep into the second major recession since the book encouraged us to operate as much of our business as we can over the Internet, what can we still learn from it – what still applies and what has changed?

The Internet is the most cost effective communications system ever devised since the beginning of man. It uses less energy that smoke signals or jungle drums and provides more information per $ than: telegraph, telephone, telex, and TWX. It has more persistence and reusability than radio or TV (even with Tivo) and is compatible with a wide variety of media: landlines including copper and fiber optics, satellite, microwave and various radios. It is truly an epoch creating technology and one that every business needs to embrace enthusiastically to get and remain competitive.

Web 2.0 and SaaS

How can we cut costs and improve operations and customer satisfaction by becoming Net Ready 2.0? In 2000, the book preached moving as many business functions as possible to the Internet. This is still very good advice but the Internet of 2000 is very different from the Internet of 2009. The current Internet, Web 2.0, is built on the assumption that bandwidth is plentiful and cheap, and for the most part, it is. (The Internet of 2000 still had plenty of dialup access.) What does this mean for business? Well for one thing it means that SasS deployment can support more applications and those applications can have rich media interfaces. So, SaaS (hosted) solutions can cover more of your company needs. Additionally, with Web based applications being available to more casual users, the user interface can now be rich enough to help guide the user through complex applications without lengthy, productivity robbing delays.

SaaS deployment is enjoying rapid market growth, partly because of the deep economic downturn and partly because the technology and applications are getting better. IDC reports that growth is up 50% at the enterprise level and 30% for SMB.

To SaaS or not to SaaS

Let’s look at how hosted applications have grown to either meet or not meet the promise of 2000. A friend of mine, Chuck DeVita, has often said that the best way to deliver an application (hosted verses on-premise) is to deliver it the way the customer wants it. Implicit in Chuck’s statement (Chuck is a very experienced sales executive in Enterprise software) is that there is no one correct answer. It really depends on the needs of the organization. Hosted applications are easier to deploy, especially if you are starting from ground zero and do not have to deal with much legacy data. We are particularly fond of collaboration applications for the SaaS model. Yet, as we get more and more comfortable with Web based applications for collaboration we are sharing more and more sensitive data on the Web.

In particular, when it comes to Web conferencing, we need to pay attention to access security for meetings. The weakest security point in web conferencing is access security. Every web conferencing system today uses meeting IDs and/or passwords as simple access security measures to protect web meetings from unwanted attendance. However, the problem is that meeting IDs and passwords are usually emailed to attendees before scheduled meetings start. This process can easily compromise access security. Your computer screen may be captured within seconds once a hacker intercepts or guesses your meeting ID or password. Once you realize you have been hacked, it is too late to close your meeting.

As we deploy more and more applications on the Web, security will become more and more of an issue. What other issues do you think will become important as we make our businesses “Net Ready”?

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