SaaS Advice from Ovum
In their paper “Nine questions to ask about SaaS,” Warren Wilson and Timothy Stammers from Ovum hit the nail on the head when they say:
Customers’ needs can change for any number of reasons – such as growth, acquisitions, or changes in the competitive landscape – so the right SaaS-versus-on-premise choice today may not be the right choice tomorrow.
The problem with most SaaS offerings is that it’s difficult to switch from SaaS back to on-premise. There are several stories about customers trying to retrieve their data, only to discover a painful process where they are charged extra or receive their information in a completely unstructured format.
Wilson and Stammers address this issue by saying that “customers should determine how easy it will be to move from one deployment option to another.” They point out several vendors that offer a choice of deployment options and mention that moving between SaaS and on-premise might be difficult when the solutions use a different code base.
One day, SaaS applications may have a set of interoperable standards that allow you to easily move your data from one vendor to the next. Several companies such as Cast Iron Systems are moving to make this a reality. But, in the ERP world, systems are customized to specific needs and data exists from ages ago, so don’t expect any short term solutions. Instead, follow Wilson and Stammers’ advice and investigate a vendor who offers the same code base and data structure for both its SaaS and on-premise solutions.