Integration Should Be Key Requirement When SaaS Shopping

Ann All

Earlier this year, I wrote about one company's efforts to use software-as-a-service for all of its business applications. There's a similar take on SaaS in a recent article, which relates how open source database provider Ingres has added 10 SaaS applications for its employees over the past two-and-a-half years.


While low upfront cost and simplified maintenance were the initial draws, Doug Harr, the company's CIO, says another advantage of the SaaS model is that it gives companies the option of using "best of breed" applications for all of their software needs. Harr says this doesn't present as many integration issues as one might expect, based on experiences with traditional apps since "good SaaS companies have built their apps on a Web-services based architecture," which makes it simpler for SaaS applications to share data.


Harr stresses the importance of working with SaaS providers that can provide integration capabilities and of making it a key part of evaluating SaaS solutions. That advice is echoed by Douglas Menefee, CIO of a Louisiana-based emergency medical planning company that is using SaaS for a number of its key IT functions.


According to IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson, Menefee made strong application programming interfaces (APIs) a key requirement for service providers. The company also added some specialized tools, including a Cast Iron integration appliance, which helps with application integration through the firewall.


So just how good are the cost savings with SaaS? While Harr wouldn't provide a specific amount, he says he believes he can use SaaS for five years for less than what it would cost him to deploy similar software on-premise.

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Sep 2, 2008 9:59 AM Dan Dan  says:
We use a couple SaaS apps internally here, though we certainly haven't gone entirely SaaS. I would say companies that do this are in the very small minority. This means they have to connect their various SaaS apps with their databases, apps, and legacy systems behind the firewall - not as easy as connecting Apps hostly purely on the web. Disclaimer: I work for Jitterbit and my thoughts here are solely my own. However, as a company we've seen a lot of traction providing an open source integration solution for the most popular SaaS apps including integration. While salesforce leads the way, others such as Netsuite and SaaS ERP apps are gaining mindshare and requiring integration solutions as well. Reply
Sep 3, 2008 4:07 AM Doug Harr Doug Harr  says:
Ann, thank you for the mention. We have acheived very positive results at Ingres focusing on a goal of deploying 100% SaaS and open source solutions. I have been reluctant to name specific software vendors to support the TCO model, but I will say for instance that we will spend less over 5 years on Salesforce at Ingres, including 5 years subscription, implementation, and supporting personnel, than I spent 4 years ago on Siebel just for the up front license and 6 month implementation. Lots of postings on my blog here: Reply

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