SaaS: Vendors Separated By A Common Language

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is rapidly becoming “Everything-as-a-Service” (or, as a client said to me last week, “All-as-a-Service”).  I’ve been reporting the impact of SaaS on IT management software for nearly two years now and I keep saying that SaaS is really a phenomenon of new market entrants with compelling arguments against incumbent suppliers. Operators like ServiceNow.com, ManageEngine, Splunk, and SpiceWorks are leading a charge to replace HP, BMC Software, and CA installations. So it’s NOT really a trend impacting small and medium businesses only: many enterprises, even large ones, now also prefer a SaaS solution for their systems monitoring, IT asset management, service desk, or even discovery and CMDB management.

In the last weeks there has been a series of SaaS announcements by the megavendors. But the inquiries coming in from Forrester clients imply that things are not all that clear on these announcements. So here is a quick summary. As you will see, while riding the SaaS wave, they each interpret it differently.

CA now has a Service Desk On Demand offering based on their Service Desk r12 product. It’s run on dedicated installation in their data center or as a multi-tenant instance in one of CA’s partners installations also hosted there. CA clearly wants to limit the service to their target enterprise market.  They will control this by requiring a minimum 1 year contract (with financial incentives for signing for 2 or even 3 years), a minimum of 50 service desk analysts (you pay per analyst per month) and, most importantly, you cannot just sign up for the service on the web, you have to be approved by CA first.

IBM has announced IBM Tivoli Live. It does systems monitoring only so you are basically getting a remote management service delivered by IBM Global Technology Service. Again, the target here is enterprises; well, ideally smaller ones twixt 1000 and 5000 employees, as they have an appliance solution for smaller firms. The pricing will certainly kill any SMB interest. For completeness, they do have a service desk as a managed service based on MRO’s historical business.

HP has not announced anything new but continues to promote their on demand delivery option across most of their BTO product line. I have reported previously that product complexity and the engagement process needed to have the service set up will continue to restrict these offerings to enterprises only.

The only one of the megavendors with a suitable SMB solution is BMC Software's ITSM Express. BMC is now porting and will provide this solution over the salesforce.com channel when they will join the long list of force.com partners who are listed on their App Exchange. It is not there yet; it will be available in March 2010. This is not the full ITSM solution that BMC sells to enterprises, though Forrester expects further developments with these products towards SaaS later in 2010.    

So, only BMC have announced an SMB solution as a new market initiative while the others are protecting their installed base of enterprise business. And, except for BMC again, the solutions are really on-demand managed services, what we call Level 2 SaaS in our SaaS Maturity Model.

So, I hope that helps and feel free to ask me for further information in an inquiry.

Always keeping you informed!  Peter

By Peter O'Neill

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