SaaS ECM Gospel According to SpringCM

With SaaS CMS being a popular topic nowadays, every vendor seems to have something to say about the Software-as-a-Service model. Enterprise CMS provider SpringCM is no exception.

In a recent “SaaS vs. On-Premises Software” whitepaper, SpringCM highlights 12 reasons why SaaS can be a good choice for a CMS prospect. We add our two cents to this gospel and say why SaaS ECM may not be the best option for everyone.

SaaS Content Management is Shining

SpringCM put together a list of reasons why SaaS, in general, and the vendor, in particular, worth a try for those looking to buy a new CMS or upgrade to a different one. As we mentioned before, SaaS is quite trendy on the Web CMS front. SpringCM gives us the same positive outlook on SaaS from a bigger, Enterprise CMS perspective.

12 Pros (and Cons) of SaaS

Rapid Deployment

Up-and-running quickly is definitely a very compelling selling point for many ECM vendors and prospective customers. Add to that no hardware to buy and configure and no software to install and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Complete Solution Out of the Box

Many CMS vendors promise this, but not many are actually delivering on the promise. In the majority of cases, complete out-of-the-box functionality is just a customer dream yet to be come true. SpringCM, however, insists that all its ECM technologies are pre-integrated. So they should with an ECM solution, but still… Chances are some tweaking will be needed at some point.

Low Cost

In this economy -- sign me up for low cost! While many SaaS ECM vendors operate by different pricing rules and business models, pay-as-you-go is one of the most popular payment options (also offered by SpringCM). The initial implementation cost may, in fact, be lower as compared to on-the-premises CMSs, but when was the last time all the expenditures stopped at the initial implementation cost?    

Low Risk

SpringCM says “SaaS solutions are inherently low risk and easy to purchase.” That’s, of course, if you have your mind set on SaaS -- but even then there’s this dilemma of choosing the right CMS vendor. Speaking of low risk -- while the initial investment may be lower than for an On-the-Premise Enterprise ECM system, be wise when making the choice.

No CapEx Worries

While many IT budgets thrive on the ability to file CMS expenses under Capital Expenditures, SpringCM touts its subscription-based costs as an operating expense, which can potentially free customers from additional paperwork and sweating in front of a financial committee.

More Content Security

This would be a highly debatable point with SaaS CMS… All your content is stored on someone else’s premises. In addition to that, you never know what’s going to happen to your content should your vendor go out of business.

SpringCM, however, stresses the fact that they have additional security controls and advanced access control framework within the solution which make it almost impossible to penetrate multiple firewalls. As if it’s still in your own data center/network, and you have nothing to worry about. Access security is a crucial part of any CMS solution, so nothing new and exciting on this front as it comes to SaaS vs. On-the-Premise solution.

Higher Availability and Reliability

SpringCM promises 99.97% of uptime on top of the documented disaster recovery plan with failover servers. While this set-up may not necessarily be true for all SaaS ECM vendors, it’s definitely a good point to consider.

More Control Over Data Access

SpringCM hosts it, but this data is all yours. Hard to believe, huh? Data access and security will remain the trickiest questions for SaaS ECM prospects. Do you really want to store your corporate, sensitive data on someone else’s server at some data center you don’t know much about?

Many legal regulations require data to be stored in a certain location and not moved away from the premises, which can potentially make SaaS ECM not so attractive for many customers. But if you don’t have that worry, SpringCM even offers a DVD-format data delivery. Would you like fries with that?

Enhanced Business Agility

Right… This means less programming and more configuration work. Plus, the vendor offers the luxury of frequent (every 10-12 weeks) upgrades without the cost of reprogramming. Take that with a pinch of salt…

Easy Integration

With SaaS, the integration of CMS with other systems can, certainly, be less painful. What SpringCM offers on top of that is the ability to utilize its Document Management and Workflow modules. From flat file to Web services integrations, it’s all up to your heart’s desires which integration route to take.

While SpringCM does offer some integration capabilities out of the box, this is not the case with all SaaS ECM vendors.

Happy Customers

Here, SpringCM cites InfoWeek that said in April, 2008, that 92% of companies with less than 1000 employees and 91% of companies with more than 1000 employees reported that their SaaS implementations had “mostly or totally met their expectations.”

Level-Playing Field

SaaS is being referred here as “democratization” of technology available to both SMBs and large organizations. So, get on the SaaS train before your competitors do.

SaaS in the WCM Space

With SpringCM clearly taking the lead in the ECM SaaS space, there’s plenty of competition in the WCM SaaS market. Recently, we gave you an overview of the upcoming 2009 WCM SaaS trends based on the research done by CMS Watch for their 2009 Web CMS Report. SaaS is definitely not anywhere near being in a slump.

On top of that, we also had an opportunity to share with you a detailed interview with eZ Systems, that is soon planning to take the SaaS Web CMS route with its eZ Publish Web CMS through their partner in arms Mamut ASA.   

Caution: It’s Hot. It’s SaaS

As with many trendy things, caution is recommended with SaaS. While there are many valuable features to Software-as-a-Service, many of you, probably, realize that it is not a perfect solution for all scenarios.

SaaS is going through a transformative phase, and it may evolve into a different animal in 2009. For one thing, there’s a trend of leaning more towards being developer-friendly/centric. While open APIs have long been a trend among SaaS vendors, developers want even more flexibility when it comes to tools they want to work in.

Secondly, SaaS customers are starting to desire more from SaaS than just software services, and vendors are responding accordingly (by offering training, etc.). This is all good, as long as it benefits the customer.

However, at the same time, there’s this thought lurking in our minds: is SaaS turning into something quite different from what it was originally designed to do?