Tech Spheres

Discussion of Web 2.0 Business Strategies (SaaS, PaaS, Strategy, Enterprise, Small Business, Flex)

Posts Tagged ‘PaaS’

Intuit Partner Platform + Windows Azure = Win for Small Businesses

Posted by Alex Chriss on January 20, 2010

Super-excited to be announcing the relationship between Intuit and Microsoft to bring great apps to Small Business.  This is a huge step for IPP and real validation of our strategy and the effort our team has put in the past two years.  Can’t wait for what happens next!

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Federated Applications on Intuit Partner Platform

Posted by Alex Chriss on June 3, 2009

Today, we are pleased to announce the release of “Federated Applications” on the Intuit Partner Platform. It’s been a blast to work with our Rock-Star team to deliver this and I want to personally welcome our five new developers, VerticalResponseDimDimRyppleSetster, and ExpenseWare, that have gone through federation already.  It’s always scary going first, but these folks have been great partners and I look forward to their awesome success!  

Here is some more information on the details of federation and how you as a developer can get started.

(Originally posted)

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Are we screwing up Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)? How to increase adoption of SaaS Apps

Posted by Alex Chriss on January 20, 2009

I was at a Small Business conference in September looking to learn from owners of SMB’s.  At lunch, the conversation came around to who was using software as a service (SaaS) to run parts of their business.  I leaned forward, eager to hear how SaaS had revolutionized each of these companies, only to be completely blown away with disappointment.  Not only had SaaS offerings not taken over the front and back office of each of these small businesses, but the conversation actually turned to a comparison between SaaS and Betamax – yes – software-as-a-service was being called a “fad.” 

So I started asking questions – trying to unlock the secrets that could help us gain an advantage in the SaaS and PaaS game and create massive adoption.  But other than security fears, there were no real concrete dissentions.  They loved the pay as you go subscription of most SaaS offerings, they loved the enhanced collaboration and the lower IT & infrastructure costs.  They were very excited about the constant upgrades and 24/7 reliability.  In fact, they loved most everything we think about when we think about SaaS – BUT – there was minimal adoption. 

Then one of the Small Business owners blurted out, “It may be silly, but mentally, it’s just weird to think about running my customer service program from the same thing I check ESPN.com on.”  BINGO – That’s when it hit me – What if we’ve been doing SaaS wrong this whole time?  What if all of us early adopters who like the thrill of going from 0 to 100 in 3.2 seconds and enjoy the risk of catastrophic failure, forgot to look back and pave the road for the real people who matter – the businesses who generate real revenue and employ real people and can’t afford catastrophic failure? 

When Benioff championed “No Software,” I think we screwed up a little.  What he should have said was “Better Software”.  Software isn’t the problem – we just interpreted the steps to the future poorly.  What we really needed to develop was “connected software.”  Applications running within the browser are awesome – but maybe they’re SaaS 2.0 – In our excitement, we forgot to deliver SaaS 1.0 – Desktop applications that are connected to the web and are sold as a service. 

Most businesses use desktop apps today.  They’re comfortable with the UI and the installation process and even the registration process.  What if we built the next generation of SaaS apps as  “desktop connected” apps with tools like Adobe Air, that people can click on and run locally, but still leverage the benefits of “the cloud”?  I’m betting we’ll see more rapid adoption of “SaaS” offerings and pave that road to browser based apps.  Consumer apps like Facebook will lead the mental charge towards the browser, but we need that suite of desktop connected apps that moves businesses into the SaaS/service/cloud mindset and away from traditional software.  

I’d like to eliminate the installed app too – but maybe we need to walk before we can zoom.  If we don’t bring the masses along with us, it’s going to be pretty lonely up in the clouds.

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Intuit Partner Platform – Open for Business

Posted by Alex Chriss on November 11, 2008

(originally posted on the Intuit Partner Platform blog)

Phew! After about a year of pretty heavy strategy and really heavy engineering work, I’m proud to announce the Intuit Partner Platform (IPP) is open for business.   What is IPP you ask?  Well, it’s the fastest and easiest way for you to build a SaaS business.  Here’s the way I think about building a SaaS business –

Three simple steps to success:

1) Get a great idea – we can share some of our research on what Small businesses are telling us they need – but your entrepreneurial inspiration is critical

2) Build your great idea on a solid platform – IPP gives you robust hosting, a database with prebuilt  functionality, a UI layer with Adobe Flex, integration with QuickBooks data, integrated billing service, etc. etc.

3) Get lots and lots of customers – Even the best application, built on the best technology, won’t get you very far if no one comes to buy it.  What makes the Intuit Partner Platform truly unique is access to our channels of Small Business customers. We have about 25 million employees within our 4 million QuickBooks customers alone – and we want to drive them to buy your apps. 

In listening to our customers, they are demanding applications that solve their business needs – “right for me” applications.  We can’t build all of those ourselves – but we can build a great platform and a great channel for you to build lots of great apps that solve for our customer’s needs.  So what you see today is V1 – open for business. There is a lot more to come, but we’re ready for prime-time now.  We have a few developers that we’ve been working with for a while that have apps in the marketplace – try them out – play around with the materials we have on the website – download the SDK – then get your idea ready and give us a call.   We’ll help you refine that idea and design a killer app for the small business world – We’re open for business and ready to drive users to your app – give us an app and let’s get started!

Alex Chriss
Business Leader, Intuit Partner Platform

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What ‘flavor’ is your PaaS?

Posted by Alex Chriss on November 9, 2008

This afternoon I was reading Dion Hinchcliffe’s great post on Building Modern Web Apps, and different product delivery models.  It struck me that choosing the right Platform-as-a-service could be considered a component to your product delivery choice.  So I did a little digging and found Tim O’Reilly ask whether there were advantages in choosing different PaaS options.  Well, yes, I think there are big choices to be made in choosing  where to build your next web app. 

Simply put, as a developer, you have a choice in “flavors” – (“PaaS flavors” as a term lifted from a panel presentation Allistair Croll did at Web 2.0)

There seem to me to be three flavors of PaaS:

1)      Pure platform – The tools needed to develop and host an app (Bungee, Google App Engine) [Monetization is likely exclusively through usage fees]

2)      App-centric platform – The same as above but focused around a specific application (i.e. Force.com) – Advantage is that you can leverage an anchor tenant’s data and customer base to sell your app. Disadvantage is that you’re tied to the anchor tenant – for good & bad [Monetization through selling more of your anchor tenant, usage fees, and/or rev share]

3)      Market-centric platform – Pure platform but with a specific market focus (i.e. Intuit Partner Platform – IPP) – Advantage exists only if the platform has durable advantages the developer can leverage in the market (i.e. brand, data, customers, channel) [Monetization through usage & rev share]

 There are also different components that make up a “platform” and the importance of those components differ based on the flavor of the platform.  For a pure platform, an end-to-end solution for developers is critical – otherwise there is very little value. 

 For an App-centric platform, having a developer build an app that ties directly to their anchor tenant – extending its value – is critical – The more apps, the stronger the anchor tenant becomes.

 For a market-centric platform, the real value to developers is in the durable advantages – so some of the specific components can be “optional.”  If developers prefer to build their app on a Pure-platform, that’s fine, as long as they expand the value of the market (note: network effect) – in this case, you lose utility charges but still have revenue share

The flavors of PaaS overlap and there are offerings that try to be multiple flavors, but I wonder if you always default to your core?  Force.com is trying to be all three, but will it always default to its core app-centric model?  IPP is also try to be all three – as it matures, it will be interesting to see where its true core is.

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