The 2013 Future of Cloud Computing Survey results were just released. This is the third year of this comprehensive survey covering Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The survey provides several takeaways for SaaS providers. Clearly SaaS market penetration continues to grow with 63% of organizations using SaaS, a 15% increase from 2012.
Here are some of the reasons that enterprises are using SaaS and some of the opportunities for the future.
The survey indicates that organizations that are looking for agility are 5 times more likely to use SaaS and organizations looking for innovation are 4 times more likely to use SaaS. For SaaS providers it’s clear that these are two areas where your customers are looking for your help. As a provider these are areas where it makes sense to make investments in functionality. This focus on agility and innovation is one of the explanations for the high growth of SaaS applications in areas like e-commerce, social/collaboration, media/entertainment, Big Data/Analytics and mobile. All of these are application areas that help enterprises innovate and move quickly.
The main inhibitors to SaaS growth continue to be security, although security is becoming less of an inhibitor, and cost. This means that SaaS providers must continue to demonstrate the security of their solutions and explain this to customers. Providing good value, looking at total cost of ownership and providing case studies which demonstrate value is also important.
Sharing services to link customers and partners, combining data between services and combining services to provide new business processes are all new predictions that came out of the survey. All of these predictions come out of the opportunity for more integration, more data, more movement of data and fewer stove-pipe applications. The message for SaaS providers is to make sure that you are either providing technical and business strategies to enable this combining of services or data or complying with the strategies of others in your ecosystem. Just providing your application without acknowledging the existence of a larger application ecosystem will not be a sustainable strategy in the future. You have to show how your application fits or can fit with other applications.
To help facilitate this integration there is already a significant trend toward more APIs, an 11% increase over last year. There is also a clear message from customers that integration strategies and solutions need to be part of your SaaS solution. APIs introduce a whole set of management, performance, standards and security issues that have to be addressed.
I believe that one of the most important trends showing up in this survey for SaaS providers is the integration and API issue. You need to have a good understanding of the ways that your application fits within an overall data and service ecosystem. If you are a large provider you want to drive the ecosystem strategy. The core of your strategy will need to be how your solution helps enterprises be agile and innovate through combining data and services with your application as a key piece. Formation or participation in application exchanges or other partnerships is important if you are a smaller provider.
The entire survey results are available here and there is a lot of other data in the survey on IaaS and PaaS both of which are growing very quickly.