Using #Facebook to explain #cloud computing and #SaaS platforms for #Enterprise

This is the first of a multiple part series.

As is often the case, whenever I meet someone new, the conversation inevitably turns towards employments. When asked what I do, I sometimes reply that I’m a Business Analyst for SmartSimple Software Inc. More often than not, this response is registered as nice to know and the conversation proceeds to other areas.

Other times, I would provide a more focused answer along the lines of “I work for a company that provides software as a service”, because SaaS is so commonly used this response generally elicits a follow up question along the lines of…”so what do you guys actually do?”. “Well” I answer “We’ve developed a platform for enterprise that contains functional applications”, most times this answer is more or less ignored but occasionally I get responses from “I’ve heard of SaaS but I don’t understand what it means” to a flat out “You’re going to have to explain that to me”.

What I always find interesting is that near 100% of the participants in such conversations actively engage with cloud technology, but because they do so in the context of “social” or as a “consumer”, they are not necessarily exposed to the terminology as it applies to business.

I’ve found that the most effective way to explain SmartSimple is to compare it to everyone’s favorite cloud solution Facebook. This multi-part series will use Facebook to explain what SaaS, platforms and applications are. After all, given forecasts of rapid adoption, it only makes sense that more people understand.

The first thing that anyone and everyone should know about SaaS is that it is delivered over the internet. The fact that it is delivered over the internet has two major implications. First it means that in theory the ‘service’ should be accessible from any device that can connect to the internet. The theoretical part refers to the fact that different devices have different screen sizes and different browsers can render information in a slightly different manner. In the world of Facebook, this means that you can stay in touch with your social network from any location. In the world of SaaS for enterprise, this means that people can engage and get work done from any location in the world.

The second implication is affordability through scalability. Back in the day, any piece of software you ran had to be installed on your computer. Piracy aside, this meant that each computer required a hard copy version of the piece of software in question. Additionally, regardless of how demanding the software was on your computers resource, no unused resources could be transferred to someone else’s computer. With SaaS this all changed. By centralizing the computing power and delivering functionally online, all users could share the resources, so every new user added pushes the price per user down. This means that rather than shipping Facebook to BestBuy so you can install it on your computer all Facebook needs to do is provide you with access to their servers.

Both of the above implications are not only the cornerstones of SaaS for enterprise, they also provide an excellent segue into the next part of the series – Roles, Permissions and Internal, External Users or the difference between friending your BFF and your Mom.

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