Software as a Service (SaaS) might be here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it is easy or fast to develop. Independent software vendors (ISVs) and CIOs deploying private clouds could benefit from a SaaS platform that turns existing applications into full-bodied, multi-tenant programs. That’s the route Market6 LLC took in deploying a SaaS for its supermarket customers. The Walnut Creek, Calif.-based data aggregator provides predictive analytics so that stores know the quantities of food they have in stock and the amount of movement to expect.
“Our core business is generating data,” said Niall Murphy, director of engineering at Market6. “We need to be able to easily provide that data to end users, but don’t want to be in the business of building a better distribution tool.”
Market6 chose Apprenda from Apprenda LLC in Clifton Park, N.Y. The software decreased the vendor’s development time dramatically by transforming its single-tenant application into multi-tenant software with all the cloud-y bells and whistles, Murphy said.
Although Market6 sells industry-specific software, the SaaS platform approach is equally applicable to enterprises that are building private clouds or that plan to enable customers to access internal SaaS applications, according to analysts.
At the Gartner CIO Leadership Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week, David Cearley, a Gartner Research vice president and Gartner Fellow, told one session’s audience that “everyone in this room will eventually become a cloud computing service, whether it’s providing information feeds or applications through a website.”
NCI Building Systems Inc. in Houston might have considered a SaaS platform if it hadn’t already engineered a multi-tenant private cloud, to which it provides access by partner architects and builders, said Eric Brown, executive vice president and CIO at the company. “We give them access to download specs and computer-aided design drawings and run engineering apps so they can estimate for their customers what the total cost will be,” he said.
Companies that develop in .NET, which Apprenda supports, will find it a highly useful tool, according to Yefim Natis, a Gartner Research vice president and distinguished analyst who in 2010 included the product in a roundup of cool technologies. “Alternatively, [enterprises] could develop the Apprenda-like cloud functionality themselves, which can be a serious, and now unnecessary, challenge for many developers.”