Cloud / SaaS Standards, Will They Benefit You?
Several organizations are discussing the activities associated with creating SaaS standards. As Dennis Howlett mentions in his article “UK trade groups come together to develop SaaS / cloud standards”, these discussions are business focused and welcomed by most in the industry.
The SaaS standards Dream
Customers can purchase SaaS applications which share information through a group of standards (this reminds me of some web federation attempts). This eliminates several problems associated with sharing data across different SaaS applications, so, your ERP application can talk to your CRM application – even if both were provided by different vendors.
The SaaS standards Nightmare
Security requirements and bandwidth fees could interfere with the smooth flow of data. In his article, Dennis mentions international data domain issues (especially in the EU) that require international collaboration and planning. In addition, assume that your SaaS provider charges for incoming and outgoing data … in that case, things could get troublesome if too much data is constantly being swapped.
Not Mentioned (and critical)
Although not mentioned in the article, the same set of SaaS standards could also apply to SaaS applications run on internal clouds. Without standards, customers have to purchase applications from a single provider or use a proprietary platform to interface with that provider. With standards, customers could buy some applications as SaaS and run others internally. Further, customers could use those standards to retrieve their data at any point in time. This would avoid potential vendor lock-in issues that slow the adoption of SaaS.
The finalization of standards and subsequent adoption of those standards by a large number of vendors could take quite a few years. Prior to that time, customers can purchase applications developed with standard development tools which have the flexibility to be run on-premise or as SaaS. Then, integration with line of business applications can be done easily using APIs and customers do not have to be concerned with lock-in issues.
SaaS can be a huge benefit, although standards would be great – don’t wait for them, get started today.