In an eWEEK story yesterday on the response to Google Gears, Burton Group analyst Guy Creese is quoted as saying that "It’s a capitulation by Google that Microsoft is right—it’s all about SAAS and software, not just SAAS." I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong, for reasons that it’s critical to understand.

Creese apparently equates SaaS with a continual Net connection, overlooking the major reasons why SaaS is gaining momentum in both enterprise and consumer-facing applications.

  • If you don’t have to install and configure an application, but simply use it by logging in…
  • If upgrades become available to the user transparently, without application breakage resulting from fat applications demanding incompatible versions of fat client platform components…
  • If back-end workload is handled by someone else’s infrastructure, without an end user or a user organization making wasteful investments in peak-load capacity that mostly goes unused…
  • If you get all those measures of goodness…it’s SaaS.

If new technology enables you to continue use of a SaaS application in a non-connected mode, automatically realigning session state and content with the state of shared resources when the next opportunity arises, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer SaaS. That just means that one of the legitimate objections to adopting SaaS has been addressed — without accepting the burdens of continued investment and administration, and the nuisances of device-resident state, that go with a fat-client model.

My aikido throw of Creese’s comment would be something like this: "Gears is a demonstration by Google that Microsoft is wrong: it’s all about the convenience and the cost-effectiveness of SaaS, not the complexity and wastefulness of ‘software plus services.’"

Google Gears shines a flashlight under the bed, and reveals that the bogeyman of "what about when you’re not connected?" is just a little dust bunny after all.  It’s about time.

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