Magazine article New Zealand Management

Cry Freedom

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Cry Freedom

Article excerpt

Comments like this strike fear into the heart of the average IT person. There are multiple servers to manage, user computers to configure, support and secure, and mobile devices to worry about. Then there's virus-protection, spare-filtering, internet security and backups. And now, there's a new challenge--web-based applications.

Also known as software-as-a-service applications (or SAAS) this is the next big thing. The best recognised SAAS applications currently are web-based email services such as Hotmail or Google's Gmail. But they are starting to spring up everywhere--and with them come a whole new breed of challenges for the enterprise--and the IT department.

Google has launched a number of SAAS applications such as a web-based word processor (based on the Writely.com application that it purchased) and a web-based spreadsheet. These will shortly be joined by a web-based presentation application.

Salesforce.com has made huge inroads with its web-based CRM package--and Microsoft looks set to follow. Open source offerings such as SugarCRM are also competing to provide web-based application functionality in the CRM market.

Then there's a raft of function-specific web-applications such as those offered by 37Signals.com: Backpack (a personal information manager and calendar), Basecamp (a web-based team project application) and a recently released simple CRM called Highrise.

We have some great homegrown examples of SAAS applications: Touchpoint.co.nz, Usuite.com, PlanHQ.com and Xero.com.

SAAS applications have a number of advantages. They are easy to deploy, accessible from anywhere and, usually, very scalable. They can also be incredibly liberating for an organisation. Instead of having to wait until the IT department can find or build an application to serve a particular need, line-of-business managers can sign up to a service and be up-and-running straight away. …

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