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Managed hosting as a service: The transition to SaaS

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This is the second part of a series on managed hosting as a service. In part one, I talked about my opinions on managed hosting as a service (MHaaS)—a variation on software as a service (SaaS). In this post, I hope to show you how software offerings adapted for SaaS need to evolve to mitigate some of the challenges I described.

The need to market differently

As MHaaS vendors grew and operations problems began to spiral, they started to realize that they needed to change. They had to reevaluate their product strategy and reduce the deployment and operational complexities that occurred because the product architecture did not lend itself well to a shared environment.

These same organizations also understood that when a customer asked for custom functionality, they should respond differently.

The SaaS vendors understood that they needed to market their products differently. No longer should they continue to offer customization of the product only to perpetuate their support and operational challenges. Instead, they had to focus sales efforts on the strengths and capabilities of the product, as well as to offer the product with only a small catalog of custom options.

I’ve put together a diagram to help articulate my view of the typical lifecycle of MHaaS or products adapted for SaaS.

Managed Hosting as a Service

Finally transitioning to SaaS

Typically, MHaaS is described as a custom offering. Customer requirements are often incorporated into a custom variant of the base product. Operations support multiple versions of the application at a single time. Infrastructure may be custom—again, depending on customer requirements.

As MHaaS organizations mature and begin looking to the next step, they start looking at transitioning to a single-tenant SaaS offering. In a single-tenant offering, the offering becomes more standard. No customization is supported. Because of the single-tenant nature of the application, there may or may not be sharing of infrastructure.

Ultimately, companies marketing SaaS solutions look to how they can build a true multitenant SaaS application—one that allows infrastructure and application to be shared among multiple customers.

How do we get there?

So now we see the future. Here’s where these organizations that currently offer MHaaS want to go. How do they get there?

In the following table, I’ve tried to capture how I think these companies need to evolve.

Managed hosting as a service - table

I realize that the table above gives an overly simplistic view of how to evolve from MHaaS to a multitenant SaaS offering. I recognize that this work cannot be done overnight.

These organizations need to develop a strategy to transition their offerings. Without this strategy, they may struggle as they grow and scale their footprint.

They need to evaluate how the product is developed and deployed. Is the product developed for an on-premises single customer implementation? If so, can it be adapted? Or should it be re-architected and rewritten to support basic SaaS principles such as those mentioned above?

What are your thoughts? Let me know in a comment below or continue the discussion with me on Twitter @FRBauerle.

APS Cloud Delivery/SaaS Enablement

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