The Windows Azure Platform is a public cloud that offers many familiar Windows technologies which ISVs have in the past leveraged for on-premise solutions. It is ultimately a great platform and an evolving platform – but it isn’t necessarily the right choice for all UK ISVs. I have talked with ISVs who are very keen to move to a SaaS model and ultimately to Windows Azure – but for now need to host their applications and/or data in a UK based private data center or with a more traditional UK hoster and/or wish to avoid some of the re-engineering needed to move to Windows Azure.
Moving to SaaS involves many new challenges. What do you do about the onboarding of new customers or business units to your app? What about charging for different features, or different transactions? What about managing the application lifecycle? What about the underlying architecture to make use of the cloud in an intelligent way?
These are all solvable with time, effort and code… but there is another option worth looking at. I recently re-discovered Apprenda’s SaaSGrid. Apprenda stitches together any number of Windows Server, SQL Server, and IIS instances into a single SaaS platform instance for .NET web and SOA applications. Applications live as guests on Apprenda and inherit true SaaS architecture functionality; multi-tenancy, scale-out, release management, and onboarding – all out of the box. Additionally, applications are seamlessly integrated into ISV specific features that make the transition to an on-demand model as simple as possible.