Web 2.0 and SaaS Require a Re-Think for Enterprise Applications, Says Software Vendor

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Web 2.0 and SaaS business models provides unique opportunities for vendors and customers alike. However, the benefits don't translate well to the world of Enterprise Software, says Software Vendor. Tooltwist provides a solution to the problems.

Web 2.0 and AJAX technologies have prompted the growth of a large number of companies selling Saas (Software as a Service), providing hosted access to browser based software applications. The benefit for such a software vendor is that a relatively small team can develop an application, and run it up as a single installation that is shared by many customers. This allows a highly dynamic, lean business model with the potential for huge economies of scale.

At the same time customers benefit, with the convenience and easy implementation of a web-based application, accompanied with the low price enabled by cost efficiencies within the providor.

Unfortunately, in the Enterprise Application arena, many of these benefits are lost.

Large corporations each have different needs, and in the unending search for competitive edge, they expect their IT systems to keep pace with the business, and in many cases lead the way. Enterprises demand that the applications they use can be adapted and modified to suit their changing business needs. They don't want to share these customizations with other organizations, and the result is that they each have their own customized versions of applications.

Unfortunately, this creates major challenges for the vendors of enterprise level applications who wish to operate with an SaaS business model.

The first problem is the technical, support, and management challenge of having dozens of customers who need customized versions of the product. The situation is improving, but at the moment Web 2.0 technologies still require very specialist development skills. It is not realistic to expect Enterprises to customize Web 2.0 applications, so for the time being, most customization work must be done by the SaaS provider.

A non-Enterprise SaaS service provider can use a single team to support the few necessary versions of their application -- commonly just the previous, current, and next version. On the other hand, an SaaS vendor selling an Enterprise application may have to support dozens of versions for dozens of customers, each with customer specific code, and may require many teams of developers.

This problem is compounded by the need to duplicate customization work when each new version of the product is released. If a customer has spent a lot of time and effort modifying one version of the application, they may not be in a hurry to repeat that effort when a new version is released. The result can also be the need to support many older versions of the product.

Coordinating many teams, and supporting many versions, an SaaS provider can no longer be lean and dynamic. To make the situation worse, each different version of their software may need to be deployed on a different web server, so the operational economy of scale of a single installation is lost. The result can be that an SaaS vendor also loses their price competitiveness.

In short, the dream made possible by Web 2.0 and SaaS - of small companies providing large numbers of customers a price-killing product - just does not translate well to the Enterprise Application marketplace.

Until now. Tooltwist (http://www.tooltwist.com) is a development environment specifically designed for creating Web 2.0 applications that will be customized. It provides a layered application model, where a customer has the ability to insert new layers that override standard application layers, without modifying the base application.

Mr Philip Callender, one of the developers of Tooltwist said, "We've been maturing this technology for quite a while. We've been building asynchronous web based applications for five years now, well before the term AJAX was coined. We're pleased to announce that it's now available to the broader public."

Any part of the application -- the screens, the data model, the menus, user privileges, language translations, browser based logic, server based logic, etc -- can all be modified using the Tooltwist workbench. These variations from the basic application are then packaged into a PARC (plug-in archive), which can loaded directly into a running server. These modifications can be made without having the source code to the original application.

In an SaaS environment, this means that customers and 3rd party developers can create customizations and load them quickly and easily into the SaaS based application, without the SaaS vendor being involved. The result is that the SaaS vendor doesn't need to set up customer-specific servers, doesn't need to alter their base product, and doesn't need to support dozens or hundreds of versions of their application.

"This technology is amazing," says Aravind Naidu of Phinza Inc (http://www.phinza.com), a company that sells a comprehensive ITIL based IT Operations Management (ITOM) system that was developed using Tooltwist. "We were able to develop one of the world's largest AJAX applications with a small development team." He went on to say, "Our customers have the ability to make extensive customizations to virtually any aspect of our application. They can load their PARCs directly into our servers -- we don't even need to know they're doing it." Mr Naidu stated that he sees that this capability provides a fundamental advantage over his competition. "We're keeping our head count down, we're getting great economies of scale on our servers, and our customers can make all the modifications they want. They're also getting a price they love."

For more details about Tooltwist, see the website at http://www.tooltwist.com.

About Phinza:

Phinza Pte Ltd is a provider of browser based IT Management Solutions, developed using the Tooltwist development and customization toolset.
Aravind Naidu, director
Phinza Pte Ltd
+61 414 579 907


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