Why Open Source SaaS will be the future?
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is becoming increasingly popular and vital to a business. In the recent times, Open Source software or open source development has greatly contributed to this trend. Open source has revolutionized the software business in enterprise, by dramatically lowering the cost of entry for software providers. Development tools and infrastructure components required to deliver software as a service are now mostly inexpensive or free. This has opened the software market to a much wider audience of developers who can now start companies and deliver their products for far less money than was required just a few years ago. In short, open source is making software cheaper in that it lowers barriers to entry and creates a more competitive market.
The greatest contribution of SaaS has been in tools like Google’s Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Apps etc which make collaboration cheaper and easier. It used to be that software was not released to the market until it was “ready;” however, SaaS products are typically developed in public long before they are formally released. SaaS Model exploits public beta testing and also could bring down your verification and quality expenses. This new mindset has been a significant change in the way companies develop software and it is the SaaS providers that have really lead this charge.
Real issue is, Enterprises are concerned with deployment times, and SaaS has certainly helped to reduce those.
Important thing to be noted is that SaaS is a fundamental shift in software delivery and that it will be the defining mechanism for delivering new software applications in the future. Open source is revolutionary, but not for the user as much as for the developer. The user wants simplicity, and SaaS provides that.
The paradigm shifts in computing history always is in the ease of use that change things. SaaS is a revolutionary deployment in the user’s access to powerful software. It will change everyone’s expectations about the complexity and accessibility of applications. That is what is revolutionary about it. Open source is a huge contribution to this shift, but mainly in its role as a development resource. It will not directly revolutionize user computing the way that SaaS will but it can be a great complement to SaaS. Most SaaS applications are developed using Open Source which makes them agile and cheap (or free in few cases).
There is already a trend, where SaaS and open source are coming closer or in fact they combine. This is a reality now. Best example is SugarCRM which is Open Source and available as SaaS.
Most notably, open source software must be downloaded and installed and maintained on the user’s premises. But if Open Source software gets the value proposition of SaaS, that it does not need to be installed for or maintained by the user. People will get both the power of open source as well as the ease of SaaS.
Open Source should embrace the easy deployment of SaaS and people can get wonderful deals.
Open Source projects like Open Office should also be deployed as SaaS. Many a times, people like the scope of collaborative participation in SaaS and tend to use Online Office suits like Google Docs or Thinkfree. Even though, Open Office offers a lot more features, people may tend to ignore since it needs to be installed on theirs computers etc.