The proliferation of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing platform players continues to accelerate despite the failure of some early entrants and likelihood of more Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) casualties to come.
This past week, three more companies announced new platform strategies and solutions — Jaspersoft, ExpenseWatch.com, LongJump.
Open-source business intelligence (BI) vendor Jaspersoft unveiled its v3.5 integrated analysis capabilities as part of what it calls the industry’s first SaaS-enabled BI platform. The new platform promises easy-to-use integrated analysis that doesn’t require a data warehouse or OLAP server. It also includes new in-memory analysis capabilities that enables the delivery of customizable SaaS and Cloud-based BI applications which can be integrated into reports and dashboards.
ExpenseWatch.com announced an open expense control platform which will permit small and midsized businesses (SMBs) to integrate their expense management data with a variety of business application. The new “non-proprietary approach” promises to allow SMBs to create more streamlined processes to manage their expenses.
LongJump announced that its previously available LongJump Business Applications Platform can now be licensed for use within an enterprise’s data center or licensed by independent software vendors (ISVs) who want to build and host their own SaaS applications. This new ‘portability’ is in response to the growing demands among enterprises to house their SaaS apps behind the firewall. It is also another example of the rapid technological advancements in the SaaS/cloud computing industry which increasingly permits this new form of ‘hybrid’ solution to occur.
While LongJump asserted itself as a PaaS vendor a while ago and its solution truly permits enterprise users and ISVs to build new SaaS apps via its development environment, ExpenseWatch.com and JasperSoft appear to be stretching the meaning of the PaaS idea to bring greater attention to their new integration capabilities.
Rather than being a toolkit upon which others can build SaaS apps, they are really offering easy-to-integrate functional capabilities which can be plugged into homegrown or third-party SaaS apps. This is still a valuable advancement of their previous capabilities, and represent the latest examples of the growing plug-and-play nature of the SaaS/cloud computing industry.
But given the proliferation of platform players and recent demise of Coghead, a pioneer in the PaaS market, I think SaaS/cloud computing companies would be better served by using different terminology to describe their integration capabilities.
Bastardizing the idea of platforms and PaaS will only clutter the marketplace and confuse potential customers. It will also increase the likelihood of an industry shakeout which will further discourage IT/business decision-makers from leveraging these ‘platform’ solutions.