Parallels, the virtualization software maker, last week launched the public beta of Parallels Panel 10 SMB Edition. While the product itself is what the company sells to hosting and cloud service providers, I decided to highlight it as it offers a glimpse of where the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market is heading.
Of course, the fact that Parallels had seen fit to create an "SMB Edition" is the best indication of the importance of small and medium businesses when it comes to SaaS offerings, and confirms an earlier report which concluded that SMBs are more aggressive in adopting SaaS.
Anyway, the key feature central to this newest version of Parallels Panel would be its integration with the "Parallels Partner Marketplace." The idea is that hosting providers can offer pre-packaged applications through a control panel, from which customers will be able to activate and consume in a self-serve manner. This can be done in "just a few clicks of the mouse," according to the press release announcing the public beta.
The list of hosted applications numbered just six when I took a look at it while writing this blog. However, the range of applications is surely a taste of SaaS that is to come, ranging from an anti-spam solution, e-mail marketing tool, e-commerce shopping cart, online backup for desktops, and even Norton Internet Security. Indeed, you will note how a number of these initial applications, such as e-mail management, anti-spam and online backup coincides with my list of applications that I consider ripe for SMB adoption with SaaS.
Despite the hype, the potential in SaaS is real. And it is clear at the moment that developers are building software that resides and works directly from the cloud. So in order not to be caught flat-footed when the tidal wave of SaaS adoption finally arrives, it makes sense to examine your SMB's SaaS readiness, which I will cover in my next blog.