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SaaS or cloud based services are the flavor of the season. Just about any service, hitherto available on-premises, is now available as a SaaS offering.
However, a shift to the cloud does not automatically guarantee success. Nothing exemplifies it more than Content Management Systems (CMS.) As it is with the case of most on-premises services, vendors started launching SaaS based CMS, and at the turn of the year, it was predicted that CMS would be one major area that would see a massive migration to the cloud in 2013.
However, since then, SaaS based CMS has failed to live up to its expectations. Despite organizations embracing SaaS to leverage the advantages of the cloud, SaaS or web CMS vendors are struggling.
Unlike in other functional niches, SaaS based CMS does not offer any radical enhancements in functionality that offsets the risks or disadvantages of the cloud, and this leaves the enterprise user with the worst of both worlds. Normally, the cloud delivers massive improvements in scalability, and flexibility. In the case of SaaS based CMS, such a shift is rather muted. A big reason for the same is the lack of innovation on this front. For example, FinancialForce, a SaaS based accounting system developed with Force.com and offering integration with salesforce CRM offers a fresh approach to a traditional business function. Such an approach is lacking in the CMS space.
Compounding the miseries of SaaS CMS vendors is the traditional on-premise vendors offering different functionalities usually available in the cloud variant, thereby further weakening the incentive for enterprise users to make a shift. SaaS, in essence, provides specific services by using specific software and customized architecture. There is nothing to prevent on-premises vendors from offering the same, in the form of dedicated custom apps. It is when SaaS vendors innovate to leverage the advantages offered by the cloud, to add value to the customer, there is a perceptible difference.
These reasons, although explaining why CMS has not made it big in the SaaS space, is applicable for all niches and functions. The inherent advantages of the cloud are not enough. Success depends on how well the vendors and other stakeholders are able to leverage such advantages for the benefit of the enterprises and the end users.