SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Archive for May, 2007

Adobe Apollo and Google Gears: SaaS/Web 2.0 Edge Onto the Desktop

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 31, 2007

Years ago Jim Barksdale and the Netscape denizens declared war on Microsoft, saying that the browser was all anyone would ever need and bloated desktop applications would be a thing of the past.  Larry Ellison jumped on the bandwagon not long after with his network computer concepts, and for Sun, the network is the the computer.

It’s been quite some time in the making, and the original combatants have been replaced on the Internet side by a new bunch, but it’s looking like some of this may yet come to pass.  Google announced Gears at their developer conference, and Adobe’s Flex-based Apollo has been out for a little while now.  What these initiatives are looking to do is bring Rich Internet Application to disconnected desktops–clearly the suite spot (pardon my pun) for Microsoft and the other desktop vendors. 

Meanwhile Microsoft is pushing hard for their .NET equivalent, Silverlight.

SaaS and Web 2.0 vendors should be thinking about what all of this means to them.  For example, Salesforce.com has been demonstrating disconnected functionality around Flex/Apollo.  This is useful functionality for their installed base.  It’s also interesting to ponder the third leg of the tripod.  After Internet connected and disconnected desktop functionality we have wireless devices (aka phones).  My friends over at SoonR have a solution they call Mobile Ajax that’s really cool.  Song Huang, SoonR VP of Marketing, was over at my house with a pocketful of phones and proceeded to show me a PowerPoint presentation on one of the phones that had almost no local intelligence.  He got my attention with that!

The sales people and Salesforce.com users I know are all total phone addicts.  I can just imagine them wanting to check on or update the status on their pipeline from their phone using this kind of capability.

How far will all of this go?  Check out a calendaring demo done in Flex over on the Quietly Scheming blog.  That type of UI is so far ahead of Outlook today (and especially Outlook on the web) that its hard to see why it won’t be extremely attractive.

The fun is just getting started!

Posted in business, ria, saas, user interface | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft Surface: Rich Internet Appliance

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 30, 2007

I just caught the Channel 10 video of the Microsoft Surface–awesome new device. 

The direct manipulation is cool, but the real genius for me is the object recognition feature.  I love being able to set an object on the surface and have that surface be instantly aware of the object’s location and identity.

Microsoft says they’re going after the commercial world initially, and I can immediately see what my favorite application would be–hotel check-in.  Why does this have to take so long?  I should be able to cruise up just as I do in other settings, drop my affinity card (Starwood or whomever) onto a surface computer and be instantly recognized.  Options would proceed by touch, finally culminating in a card swipe for charges.  The last clever touch wuold be to do away with the room key.  Perhaps someone will make an id card that is more secure than the visible patterns used by surface computer, but that also has those patterns.  If so, my affinity card could be my room key wherever I stay.

 The only drawback is the surface computer seems expensive and delicate enough that it may be reserved for settings where it can be well looked after.

 Now here is the funny thing: according to Scoble, the original surface web site used Flash not Silverlight.  When I went there Microsoft had pulled it down and was only displaying a black empty page.  Caught!

Posted in microsoft surface, ria, user interface | 1 Comment »

Understanding Web 2.0 and SOA: It’s About Collaboration

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 28, 2007

Many I talk to in the Enterprise world are still struggling to understand the ramifications of Web 2.0.  What is it?  What does it mean?  How will it change the world?

I find pictures often do convey their promised 1,000 words or more, so I struggled with trying to fit together all the concepts in a single diagram without making it too confusing.  Along the way I got to reading Dion Hinchcliffe’s ZDNet blog about how Web 2.0 and SOA are related and the light bulb went on. 

Hinchcliffe has it right that Web 2.0 is only a piece of a bigger picture.  Once I saw things that way and went looking for the rest of the pieces of the Enterprise Connectivity picture, I came up with a pretty complete visual map that tied together all of the concepts I wanted to include:

From this diagram we can see the interplay of Simplicity, which leads to Collective access, versus Complexity, which leads to closed Proprietary systems.  Web 2.0 is all about enabling and empowering collective applications, whereas the old school Enterprise thinking is all about keeping things closed and proprietary, meaning very few could participate.

This brings us to the question of what types of participation are being discussed.  Again we have a continuum from simple scrapbook integration in the form of Blogs and Wikis and then Mashups and feeds such as RSS, all the way to complex and deeply commingled integrations that ultimately may revolve around deep data integration, such as we find within the big classic ERP suites.

Collaboration is easier to achieve than deep integration, and is more in keeping with the Web 2.0 spirit.  One has to ask what the meaning is of integration that is so deep that it travels below the Business Logic Layer.  Such integration runs the risk of either having to duplicate that logic across multiple applications or corrupting the underlying data for one application or another—the bane of
Enterprise integration projects. 

Perhaps leaning more towards collaboration and staying as far up the business logic chain as possible is a better goal, both from the standpoint of usefulness, as well as from the standpoint of keeping the corporate data healthy.  The ramifications of that is somewhat coarser grained access.  Zillions of tiny transactions and updates won’t make sense or won’t work well, unless the zillions are as a result of large numbers of people collaborating together where each one has a fairly coarse grained experience.

But the essence of encouraging that collaboration to occur is simplicity, another theme the graphic brings out.  Skills, particularly where arcane computer concepts are concerned, are a long tailed distribution.  The number of people who can handle complexity goes down rapidly as the complexity goes up slightly.  Successful platforms simplify versus the older platforms.  Hence REST is rapidly outstripping SOAP as the preferred method of creating web services.  The incredible success of Ruby on Rails in such a short time is a direct reflection of its simplicity relative to its power compared to older platforms.  To increase collaboration, simplify.

The essential lesson that Web 2.0 is trying to teach was eloquently expressed by author Stuart Robbins who essentially said that the focus is shifting from connecting software over the network to connecting people over the web.

How does your business and software accomplish that?

Posted in saas | Leave a Comment »

Amazon is the Hardware and OS Vendor of SaaS

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 27, 2007

Continuing the “Total SaaS Enterprise” theme, where every aspect of computing in an enterprise is purchased as SaaS except, perhaps for the laptops and internet connection (but then see www.centerbeam.com!), how do Amazon’s Web Services fit in?

AWS offers several services at this time.  The ones I want to talk about are EC2 (the “Elastic Computer Cloud”), S3 (“Simple Storage Service”), and SQS (“Simple Queue Service”).  Using EC2, one can get control of individual machines roughly equivalent to  a 1.7Ghz x86 processor, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth.  These machines are paid for by the hour at a rate of 10 cents an hour, with additional charges for connectivity outside the Amazon world.  Communications inside, between EC2 machines or S3, are free.  S3 offers the equivalent sort of service for bulk storage, offered at a rate of 15 cents per gigabyte per month, with charges to move data in and out of S3, but, cleverly, it is cheaper to move data in than out.  Lastly SQS, is a messaging system, that charges microcents to send reliable messages between processes that are queued.  For example, it would make an effective way for your EC2 machines to communicate with one another, or perhaps for machines outside the Amazon world to communicate into their EC2 resources.

What a cool concept!  And in fact, despite the fact it is relatively new, it has captured the imagination of many developers out there.  In fact, when I checked this morning, I got more hits on Amazon EC2 than I did Salesforce AppExchange on Google, despite the fact AppExchange has been available for much longer and EC2 is still in early beta test.

I got to thinking about the whole concept, and I like it a lot.  When looking at where to place it in the pantheon of SaaS offerings, it seems to me that what Amazon is offering is the equivalent of what Hardware and OS vendors offer under perpetual license.   The difference is you don’t have to install it, pay for HVAC to cool it, and so on.  The classic advantages of SaaS are available even for raw hardware. 

So my elevator pitch for Amazon is “Amazon Web Services makes it the SaaS of Hardware and OS vendors”.

Posted in amazon, ec2, saas, software development | Leave a Comment »

Finance SaaS With Debt?

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 27, 2007

I recently read this Phil Wainewright post about financing SaaS companies with debt, and the more I think about it and the more folks I talk to about it, the more interesting a story it seems.

It’s become generally accepted that SaaS can be more capital intensive then perpetual models.  This stems from several issues:

-  SaaS requires more software than perpetual–multi-tenancy, IT “glue” code, and a host of other things that the perpetual guys don’t need to worry about.  It’s true there is savings from single platform and everyone on the same release, but those savings come later, while the extra functionality is needed up front.

- Speaking of SaaS advantages coming later–revenue is recognized later, creating a lag in profitability.  This is often made up for by cash up front, but it doesn’t wholly substitute.

- Lastly, SaaS is offering a considerable service component at much lower margins to the software itself.

Given this hunger for capital to grow, it’s always interesting to see where new sources can come from.  Now there’s a firm called SaaS Capital that wants to help out with debt.

Traditionally the capital has been raised through successive equity rounds, at the cost of much dilution for existing shareholders.  SaaS Capital is saying they’ll loan the money for interest.  They’re looking for companies in the $4M to $40M revenue range with a proven track record of renewals from their customers.  In today’s world of low interest rates, that’s an interesting proposition.

What’s even more interesting to consider is the tremendous vote of confidence this implies for the SaaS business model.  Their ability to profit from loans is inherently less than an equity investment.  What that means is they have to reduce the risk they’re taking relative to equity investors, and that implies they think SaaS is much lower risk than other ventures still on the equity model.

Or, as one VC interviewed by Wainewright put it:

“The nice thing about the SaaS business is, if the customers are getting some value out of it, then even if the business [management] messes up, the customers are not going to go away,” he said. “There’s still value in the business and you can take it over and just run it for cash.”

Posted in business, saas, venture | Leave a Comment »

Is SaaS Toxic for Partners?

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 21, 2007

I was recently having coffee with an old friend who is in business development.  His specialty is working with ISV’s to help them manage their partners and partner ecosystem.  I was particularly curious to hear what he thought about partners of this variety—SI’s, VARs, and the like—and their reaction to SaaS.  His comments were fascinating.

First, he mentioned that they will all speak enthusiastically about SaaS.  Theirs is a message of total embrace with no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”.  According to my friend, this isn’t the whole truth, however.  In fact, it may not even be nothing but the truth.

The real story about SaaS and partners is much more interesting.  Basically, they are terrified of SaaS for the most part.  A few of them are trying to mobilize as SaaS early adopters, because they see the writing on the wall, but most of them have no idea how they will prosper in the age of SaaS.

What an amazing story! 

The thing that struck me was how similar the fears of these partners are to the fears of most traditional ISV’s.  Like the ISV’s, these organizations know SaaS is hear to stay, but it is going to force them to reinvent their businesses, it is going to radically reduce their margins until they differentiate, and they know some of them aren’t going to be able to make the transition at all.  In short, they just wish it would all go away, but they know it won’t.

Why is SaaS so scary to these folks?

The details are out there if you do just a little digging to fully corroborate what my friend had to say.

I’ll summarize my view of the challanges for partners in a series of points.

Point 1:  SaaS is still largely an early adopter game

By this I mean that it doesn’t yet have sufficient mass and momentum to be an interesting opportunity for established players given the amount of mayhem and disruption it wreaks around their existing way of doing business.

Consider a firm like Accenture.  They’re giving SaaS some air time, because it has buzz and they’ll look irrelevant if they don’t.  But the reality is that Accenture doesn’t even assign a partner to an account until the account does $5 million in business with the firm.  Working at other ISV’s, I’ve been told they have little interest in serious partnering with ISV’s until the ISV can produce $100 million in business for them.  The other big firms are no different, and sometimes they’re worse—Accenture does invest a little more heavily in futures.

As Gartner put it in a recent press release on SaaS Service Providers:

For large, established IT solution providers, the SaaS market so far hasnt appeared to have enough incremental growth potential to meaningfully contribute to revenue growth. As a result, they have tended to ignore it. This has left the door open for smaller, newer players, who are now pouring into this gap. Incumbent IT solution providers are slowly waking up to this and are entering the market to leverage SaaS market interest.

That leaves SaaS to the boutique firms, which are largely vertically focused.  This means they’re off sitting in their vertical market, watching SaaS take over in other markets such as CRM, and wondering when the tidal wave will get to them and what they’re going to do about it.  It’s an uncomfortable place to be, and the only ones they have to commiserate with are equally uncomfortable ISV’s who wonder when they’ll have to deal with the problem.

Meanwhile, SaaS vendors aren’t necessarily making it easy for these guys to take part in a new SaaS-oriented ecosystem within their vertical market.  First, the SaaS vendor is just getting established themselves.  Second, they often see themselves as competing with their partners.

 

Point 2:  SaaS steals wallet share from partners and IT and gives it to the SaaS vendor

Yes
Virginia, SaaS steals wallet share from partners and IT.  It’s one of the big reasons why SaaS is such a growth driver, which makes ISV’s interested.  Unfortunately, it also means most SaaS vendors compete with their partners directly. 

What sort of wallet share, you say?  All kinds.  SaaS vendors start by radically simplifying the SI challenges associated with adopting their systems.  This is done in part by simply eliminating most customization options from the menu, a practice the industry is gradually looking at changing.  Managed Services opportunities, where the SI comes into the customer’s data center (or possibly a hosted center of their own) to run an application they’ve installed for the customer are gone.  That’s the whole SaaS proposition, after all.  The trouble is that these were some of the most lucrative contracts an SI could have.

Point 3:  It’s hard to add IP to SaaS

How do boutique (and larger) services firms differentiate themselves?  By creating unique IP around the software and vertical markets they specialize in.  This may simply involve expertise, or it may involve software components.  Both are under pressure in the SaaS world. 

Expertise is less relevant with the massive simplification SaaS brings to the table.  Creating software components is all but impossible with most SaaS being closed.  There are some exceptions, such as Salesforce’s AppExchange, but there is considerable effort required to use the AppExchange.  It’s a new language, and a difficult one at that.  It’s totally proprietary, and any work done there is not applicable elsewhere, forcing lock-in with a single SaaS vendor.  There are SOA interfaces, but this is again pretty difficult.  The Services firms I am speaking of have to live off limited margins.  The amount of time and energy they can put to use developing IP is sharply limited by the need to be billable on projects in order to pay the overhead and turn a profit.

This problem extends to ISV’s who’ve traditionally played in the application extension ecosystem.  Business Intelligence, Integration, Systems Management, and a whole variety of other tools grew up with unfettered access to the centerpiece
Enterprise application and now they’ve lost that access. 

Point 4:  SaaS, as it’s practiced today, leads to commoditization of the ecosystem

Given how much more difficult it is for partners to differentiate themselves through IP, the trend is towards commoditization.  Once every offering is about the same, the customer turns to wondering who can do it the most cheaply.  Margins come under pressure, and it becomes a buyer’s market with the seller’s gone begging.  The same Gartner press release had this conclusion:

This change will have many profound consequences on the types of IT services that are sourced by enterprises and the types that can be profitably delivered by suppliers, said Mr. Pring. The most profound is that, as some IT services come to resemble manufacturing, they will have a similar development curve as most manufacturing businesses had during the last quarter of a century that is, wide movement overseas to lower-cost production centers and overall price deflation. This potential combination of SaaS and global sourcing delivery models two notions that have seemed diametrically opposite up until now will produce powerful changes in the entire IT industry, and particularly IT service providers.

Definitely not a pretty picture for the world of partner ecosystems!

What’s needed?

SaaS vendors need to think about how to breathe life into their partner ecosystems, or they need to decide they don’t need or want partners like this and take all the business for themselves.  The natural tendency of ISV’s is to deliver on suite dreams and do everything, but the alternative may be a better answer for customers and the ISV too.

Breathing life means thinking ahead about creating opportunities for partners, and supporting those partners.  Starving the partners out may not be the best answer.  Often they are gatekeepers in the sales process too.  The customer may have engaged them to make recommendations on what solution to go with.  They may be bringing you, the ISV, a deal lead.  Often these partners know more about the domain than the ISV’s or customers themselves.  I’ve spent time recently talking to folks like David Thompson of Genius who feel that SaaS companies need to innovate in more ways than just sticking their software into a browser and selling a service.  That innovation extends to the partner ecosystem as well. 

Here are some thoughts about what SaaS vendors should be doing to create a vigorous partner ecosystem:

-  Make the rules of engagement clear.  Service providers need to understand where they do and don’t compete with the SaaS vendor.  This isn’t to say they expect not to compete, but they’d prefer not to compete everywhere.  Leave some clear areas for them and cultivate partners to step up into those areas.  Make sure these niches are lucrative and large enough to be interesting opportunities.

-  Don’t take too many advantages for yourself.  Partners hate having to operate at a disadvantage to the ISV, SaaS or otherwise.  In their view, they’re helping the ISV out, so why should they have to do that with one hand tied behind their backs.  Make sure they have access to news updates, training, and special support for their needs.  Establish a partner care and feeding organization that isn’t the usual “tea and crumpets” gatherings.  Make sure the partner has some ability to impact your product direction and listen to their needs.

-  Provide avenues for partners to connect their own components to your solution.  The SaaS world is gradually coming to terms with what this means.  SOA and REST are important facilities to have.  So are simpler mechanisms such as good old FTP of files.  Is there a way for the partner to participate in your data feeds with your customers?  It isn’t hard to provide one.

-  Consider a place in your community for partners.  Most SaaS vendors try to create an online community for customers.  Make sure partners have a role in your community.  Often this is their number one avenue for marketing.  And don’t charge too much for it (or at all unless its necessary).  Many partners have complained at how Salesforce.com seems to be trying to make money from them through exhorbitant feeds. 

For their part of the equation, the partners need to step up aggressively for SaaS vendors who make a place for them:

-  Sell the virtues of SaaS and of your SaaS vendor.

-  Add real value for customers.  Most ISV’s care most about their customer’s satisfaction.

-  Never blame your problems on the SaaS vendor!  It’s harder to do so credibly with SaaS anyway.

Finding new ways to empower your partners will be a tremendous advantage and growth accelerator for innovative SaaS firms.

Posted in Partnering | 5 Comments »

Enterprise Software as Concrete Block

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 18, 2007

I was recently reading Phil Wainewright’s piece on “Software as a concrete block” and was taken with the idea.  Phil was talking about Workday’s (Dave D.’s new SaaS Peoplesoft killer) analogy that enterprise software has gotten to be like a concrete block.  Tons of bandaids, add-ons, customizations, and other lash-ups have combined to make a boat anchor that is hard to live with.

It tickled some perverse thoughts I’ve been having about problems with conventional SaaS software.  Don’t get me wrong–I am a convert!  I simply believe SaaS is missing some critical elements before it can reach its full potential.  The problem I have with the concrete block analogy will sound silly:

   You can’t make a concrete block in SaaS!

Wait!  Who needs concrete blocks?  Let’s look at the glass half full side.  The block represents the fact that the world has spent a lot of time developing ways to customize Enterprise software.  This customization, much decried by many in the early days of SaaS, is not just something foisted on customers by software companies eager to sell more unneeded features.  It reflects the fact that sometimes businesses need to change how their software works to give them a distinctive advantage, or to avoid losing that advantage.

A complex ecosystem has evolved around this need for Enterprise Software.  There are numerous add-in tools and components.   Wainewright’s article mentions a few including BI tools and Security.  The SaaS world is relatively new, and the ecosystem doesn’t really exist to allow these things.  Part of SaaS has been getting that SaaS application isolated in its own data center and consistent across every occupant of its multi-tenant complex.  Capabilities like SOA and Web Services are talked about, but these capabilities are very much in their infancy and there is little expertise available to help organizations exploit what capability is there.

The Appirio folks talk about “The Enterprise Flaw” on their blog, which is basically insisting that every piece of software be part of a suite from one vendor.  This is in response to a NetSuite note chastizing them for the difficulties of lashing together disparate solutions.  The fact is, customers need to be able to lash together disparate solutions, SaaS or otherwise, and right now, this is often harder to do, or more limited, with SaaS.

As SaaS evolves, the important thing will be to avoid re-inventing the wheel with the same old problems.  We need to solve the needs without reintroducing the disadvantages.  I’ve been chatting with Dave Thompson of Genius, who recently commented in his blog that he’d seen too many cases where companies were just wrapping conventional Client/Server products in SaaS and calling it a day.  Those companies are missing the opportunity to innovate further. 

Following this thread to its logical conclusion is what SmoothSpan is all about.

Posted in Partnering | Leave a Comment »

SaaS for Software Developers

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 18, 2007

In one of those funny, serendipitous coincidences, I had two conversations with two people that couldn’t be further apart in every way and both of them brought up a topic that I’ve been noodling off and on completely unaided. We were talking about what they see as the advantages of the whole SaaS phenomenon to each individual’s customers. You see, they both sell SaaS solutions. The funny thing was we got to talking about their internal architectures, infrastructures, and the ways in which their customers were stressing their systems. It was all good stuff, but somehow the conversation suddenly lurched over to the question of why the people building SaaS systems get so little benefit from it themselves!

I had been thinking about this from the context of what some people (like the 451 group) are calling “The All SaaS Enterprise”. It’s your basic “eat your own dogfood approach to life.” In other words, if your company is selling SaaS, why aren’t you using all SaaS internally? Being from an Engineering background, I naturally had asked myself the question for developers as I read about “The All SaaS Enterprise” concept in places like the Xeequa blog. Xeequa’s CEO, Axel Schultze, has a good write up on the blog about his company’s experience trying out The All SaaS Enterprise. Basically seems to have worked well for him.

Yet there is this pesky question about the developers. My two pals used strikingly similar language as they were describing the painful issues of making deals with vendors to buy hardware, software to run on the hardware, installing and maintaining all of that infrastructure and so on. Now it isn’t as if they didn’t recognize that they needed to add some value as software companies, they were simply lamenting the need to deal with all this even for their developers to work on writing new software, particularly when they were in the startup stage. Another went on to lament how unhappy they were with their bug tracking system and source control. They wanted all of this delivered in SaaS fashion without their needing to spend any time dealing with that kind of infrastructure for their day to day development work. They wanted to be able to customize those system to work the way they needed them to work, and to integrate with other systems in productive ways instead of standing alone as islands. Who can blame them?

In Enterprise Software, I’m used to dealing with the consultants and services people needed to install relatively heavy weight applications. They have related laments. Many of them spend almost as much time travelling to visit clients as they do completing their work at the clients. They want virtual access to everything so they can be productive any time their laptop is in range of a WiFi hot spot. They don’t want to run a bunch of heavy weight tools on the laptop or have to connect from inside some firewall. They’ve told me how much more productive they’d be if they could recoup some of that travel time doing actual hands on work. Instead, they’ve rented tons of DVD’s, read up as much as they can, and generally wasted a lot of time to no good end.

It’s funny how the solutions are almost there, but then fall short. For example, one of these two companies uses FogBugz for their bug tracking system. It’s thin client, it does pretty much everything they want, but there is a catch. It isn’t SaaS. You have to run it on a server and deal with setting it up and the care and feeding. You can go look on the site and they’ll recommend folks who will host it for you, but you have to buy you FogBugz license and then contract with the service to host it. Where is the “Credit Card Walk Up Service”? That’s where all I need is a credit card and an email address and suddenly I can run the software. That’s what good SaaS is all about.

SourceForge is in many ways a SaaS offering that would serve many developer functions, but it is again, not quite right. If your software isn’t open source, they don’t want your business and won’t host you. Again, where is the “Credit Card Walk Up Service” version of SourceForge that couldn’t care less that I want to keep my source my secret?

I’m sure there are SaaS version of everything I need available though. I’ll keep sniffing around. I did check out the Tanooma registry with no luck there either despite the recommendations from the good folks of Xeequa.

All is not lost, however. I have identified my first All SaaS Enterprise entrant. I’m using PBWiki as a resource to collaborate with some others on SmoothSpan. PBWiki is great. I can get a Wiki for whatever I want to use it for, make it private with a password so only my trusted circle can use it, and I’m off an running. It’s credit card walk up service. We had used Wikis in my dev groups at Callidus to good effect as a collaborative tool. Things started out on Sharepoint, but when the Wikis hit, everyone started switching. Somehow it was just easier. But we had to install our Wikis and maintian the servers. If we’d known about PBWiki (which I learned about through my friends at Mohr Davidow Ventures), we would never have wasted our time messing with our own servers.

Here is the other funny thing that gradually sinks in from PBWiki usage. I had been a dyed in the wool Microsoft Office user. Many I could make those apps sing! I’m a spreadsheet guy from way back having created Quattro Pro and competed with Microsoft in the office space. I was a General in the Office wars back in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Guess what? I don’t miss MS Word at all! The PB Wiki editor is fine. MS Word now seems like an over burdened desktop publishing program. I’ll use it to format my Lulu book (more on that some other blog day), but I don’t need it for this kind of work. PB Wiki is fine for that stuff.

So I thought I would try to track down what The All SaaS Enterprise would look like for SmoothSpan. If I can solve a problem using a SaaS solution instead of dealing with the pain of a packaged solution, I will, and I’ll keep you posted on the choices I make and how they’re working out for me. PBWiki is the first installment in what I expect will be a long list of great new tools I’ll be using.

Posted in software development | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to SmoothSpan!

Posted by Bob Warfield on May 18, 2007

SmoothSpan as a project is the culmination and intersection of a number of ideas I’ve been working on all my career. It combines radical technology innovation with equally radical business model innovation to literally reinvent and extend SaaS.

As a 3 time serial entrepreneur, it should come as no great surprise that I’m founding a company. I came upon the name “SmoothSpan“, found the domain available, one thing led to another, and pretty soon I had a web site. It’s the first modest step on the road to building a new company, but it feels good to get started with something concrete.

That big beautiful night shot of the Golden Gate bridge on the home page really inspired me. I had been looking at “bridge motifs” for a while to go with the “span” in my company’s name. This one really brings along the ideas of “stealth” (it’s a night shot) and “excitement”, which were added bonuses.

I’m sorry to say I can’t share too much about the idea just yet! But, I will use these pages to explore some thoughts about business strategy in the age of SaaS, technologies related to SaaS, and probably a lot else that is related to the iceberg beneath the waves, but that will not seem very connected.

Maybe this free association will stimulate thoughts for your own Big New Idea!

Posted in SmoothSpan | Leave a Comment »

 
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