Talking SaaS in Dublin

Last week, I had the opportunity to return to Dublin, Ireland, to participate in the second Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Summit which I’ve helped Enterprise Ireland (EI), the country’s economic development agency, organize and moderate in the past nine months.

After a very successful launch of this symposium series in October with the first SaaS Summit, decided to host another round. The goal of our first session in the Fall was to educate Irish companies and entrepreneurs about the opportunities in the SaaS market. Our objective last week was to make them aware of the major challenges and offer steps to success, especially for those local companies seeking to penetrate the U.S. market.

In addition to identifying and recruiting each of the Summit speakers, I also had the privilege of kicking off the day with a keynote presentation summarizing the state of the SaaS market and identifying the key technical and business issues that aspiring SaaS vendors must overcome.

I was followed by Eugenio Pace, Microsoft’s SaaS Architecture Strategist, who discussed the technical considerations for building and hosting SaaS applications. Clint Oram, the GM of SugarCRM in Europe, how the SaaS and Open Source movements are interconnected. He also raised questions about whether SaaS can succeed in a pure on-line, on-demand form. John Maughan, the Director of Engineering of Cape Clear Technologies, then identified the integration requirements for SaaS applications. We concluded the morning with a Q & A session in which the Summit attendees asked the speakers to delve deeper into some of the issues they raised.

The afternoon began with a talk by Phil Wainewright, the well-known SaaS blogger for ZDNet, on the differences between the U.S. and European markets. In addition to identifying some of the reasons for these differences, Phil also identified some of the interesting European-based SaaS vendors who are becoming prominent players in the market.

Phil was followed by Christopher Gesell, the Director Product Marketing at Verizon Business, who outlined how aspiring SaaS vendors can leverage global infrastructure providers to optimize their service delivery capabilities. Conor Halpin, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of LeCayla Technologies, then demonstrated how SaaS vendors must escape the constraints of traditional business models by deftly untangling himself from a straitjacket during his presentation. Conor’s entertaining display was followed by an equally enlightening talk by Frank McCracken, the founder of Saaspoint, an Ireland-based professional services and development company that has experienced rapid growth by focusing on’s AppExchange opportunities.

Of course, no gathering in Dublin is complete without capping it off with a few pints at the local Guinness brewery. The next morning, I had a series of fascinating one-on-one meetings with very interesting Ireland-based SaaS companies–CashCollector, OpenPlain, Iquate and NetTeam.

As I found during my first visit to Dublin, the country’s booming economy, broad-based technology sector, supportive government agencies and collaborative entrepreneur climate make it a perfect ecosystem for SaaS companies.

Keep an eye on the SaaS Summit website for copies of the presentations, and contact me if you’d like to get more perspective on SaaS activities in Ireland.

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