SaaS. Cloud. On-demand.
On-premise. Managed Services. Hosted. Multitenant. Single tenant. Public cloud.
Private cloud. Hybrid cloud.
We are surrounded by these
terms, but if you really know the differences, you are part of a
seriously small minority. So when half of retailers say they want to
go cloud in the next year – in commerce, what do
they mean? And from a product perspective, what’s the right fit?
Software has been eating the world for years now, and Software
as a Service (SaaS), hosted in The Cloud makes it all easier, faster, cheaper.
In an effort to be ready for
the SaaS boom, “SaaS” and “cloud” in the commerce space have become
interchangeable. But good messaging and subscription-like finance terms does
not define a SaaS product.
And software doesn’t just
live a singular “Cloud,” there are many clouds, and not all clouds are created
equal. Public clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds all vary in security,
scale, performance, capabilities, and hardware depending on provider.
From a product perspective,
here’s what "cloud" can mean today:
• SaaS (multitenant) delivers upon the promise of commerce in The Cloud: zero
infrastructure or upgrade management, housed in a public cloud/data center on a
server with other storefronts (multitenancy) to take advantage of automatic
push upgrades, elastic scaling, and shared cost. True SaaS is appealing as it
requires no CapEx budget, implementations are typically less expensive, and
customers are typically billed via monthly subscription. Today’s SaaS
commerce solutions offer slick tooling and beautiful templates, but not the
brand control, features, or proven scale for growth needed by marquee brands (or
those aspiring to be). For these vendors, in order to push a single release of software without breaking sites, the ability
to customize each storefront is limited – leaving many sites looking the same. Questions about infrastructure and
scalability raise concerns with performance and security.
• On-demand / hosted
solutions (single tenant / “private cloud”) can
simply be an on-premise technology (or an on-premise platform re-architected
for the cloud) deployed on a private server on or off site. It can also be a
hosted in a private or hybrid cloud at a commerce vendor or hosting provider,
and may feature a full or limited feature set of on-premise software that can
be customized. On-demand / hosted deployments typically require moderate CapEx
budget, and billing models vary. While these solutions offer benefits of
multi and single tenancy, they are not SaaS products. An IT staff may not be maintaining the deployment on-site –
but someone somewhere is still maintaining it, and someone is paying for that maintenance. Longer custom deployments
and upgrade management still leave much to be desired in terms of true agility with on-demand / hosted cloud solutions.
• On-premise (single tenant, on-site, private) ensures total customization – and
everything that comes with ownership from a cost perspective. Many merchants
welcome this approach, as it is the only option that can meet their
requirements. They may look to the cloud – or move elements of their deployment
to the cloud – but they see no other realistic option for their core site.
Requires more substantial CapEx budget, billing models vary.
Today, the reality is that
there is no perfect SaaS or cloud solution. Many merchants happily compromise
because they have to – whether it’s scale, growth, control, customization, or
cost. Some are left with a dilemma: do I lower my management and infrastructure
costs, or do I make sacrifices with the customer experience?
organizations craving total control and customization won’t get what they need
from a SaaS or on-demand solution. Growing organizations with limited resources
kick the can down the road until their SaaS solution becomes restrictive to the
brand experience, and cost prohibitive. On-demand users can say they are
cloud, but are still left wanting more in terms of agility and cost savings.
What if there was an
opportunity in the market to marry the agility and cost-savings of a true
multitenant SaaS solution, with the brand control and experience customization you’d
get with an on-premise platform?
In a landscape peppered with
cookie-cutter sites and environments that can’t scale, it’s time for a shake
up. Online businesses have been waiting!
Stay tuned to hear how we are solving these challenges…