While SMBs' interest in software-as-a-service is strong, it is tempered by their concerns about placing business applications -- particularly those that might involve sensitive data -- outside the secure corporate firewall. (This is a concern among their bigger brethren as well.)
A new approach that handily addresses such security concerns is emerging, writes ZDNet blogger Phil Wainewright. Providers treat software like an appliance -- that is, instead of providing software pre-installed on gear that is then connected to a company's network, they offer pre-packaged software that companies can install on their own server, or a virtual platform like VMware or even a hosted virtual platform like Amazon's EC2.
Because configuration still occurs via a Web browser interface, says Wainewright, it's essentially "a 'black box' implementation, but without the physical box."
Like SaaS, these gear-free appliances offer lower upfront costs and reduced management hassles -- with the added comfort of on-premises security.