Cloud computing is spreading through enterprises as it enables the agility sought by global organisations. The rapid adoption of cloud computing can be attributed to a latent need in both the end user organisations as well as the IT industry for a delivery mechanism that is ubiquitous, scalable and elastic, with equally elastic expense outlays. Improved agility, reduced CAPEX and OPEX, faster time to market, among others, are just some of the business benefits experienced by the organisations moving to the cloud.
Cloud computing has fundamentally altered the way software is delivered. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are focusing on how to position their products as a service. Before deciding to offer traditional licence mode, pure Software as a Service (SaaS) mode, or a dual mode, the ISV must factor in product readiness considering the existing and prospective user base, as well as new investments that must be made to achieve the desired delivery mechanism. The ISV should also understand the competitive price points for the products offered through different delivery mechanisms, especially as compared with generally lower entry price points offered byproducts offered only as SaaS. It is also important to factor in investment for scalability in the SaaS model since customers expect on-demand additional resources during their peak consumption periods.
To deliver Software as a Service (SaaS) ISVs typically work with either ready cloud services offered by Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Salesforce.com (force.com) or rent some data centre space offered by infrastructure hosting companies. The available cloud services from vendors typically fall under the IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service) offerings. On the product engineering side, the ISV has a choice of a variety of Cloud platforms. Some platforms offer built-in mechanisms for offering data as a service. Most platforms offer ready-made components for workflows, web-services, and transaction management. It is also commonplace to find support for services such as billing, monitoring, and management on these platforms. As the underlying Cloud technology evolves, the ISV will be confronted with more choices for technologies like metadata APIs, 4GL abstractions, and advanced subscription models. The ISV will also need to decide whether they should deploy applications on multiple platforms and whether they should offer their products through a marketplace provided by the platform provider.