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Survey: IBM ISV Plans for SaaS Development

We defined a SaaS maturity model with 5 levels

We recently held a joint webinar with IBM to describe a methodology for ISVs to migrate to SaaS and cloud computing cost-effectively (you can see the recorded webinar here). The key is being able to leverage existing data and logic while moving iteratively to deliver web, SaaS and Cloud capabilities that provide the biggest value to the customer at the least cost and risk to the software developer.

During the webinar, we conducted a survey of the ISV attendees that turned up some interesting results about where ISVs are along the SaaS migration path and where they would like to be in 12 months.

We defined a SaaS maturity model with 5 levels:

  • Level 0: web-enabled. The ISV's application can be accessed through a web browser without requiring the end user to install anything on their desktop.
  • Level 1: hosted. The ISV's application can be hosted without requiring the customer to install anything in their data center.
  • Level 2: self-service. The end user can customize an application (e.g., configure dashboards, reports, data, workflow) without having to do any coding.
  • Level 3: multi-tenant. The ISV can support multiple customers with a single application, database and security instance.
  • Level 4: cloud scalable. The ISV can deploy their appplication within a cloud infrasctructure that automatically scales up and down based on load.

The interesting thing about this maturity model is that levels 0 - 2 are about delivering higher value to the ISVs customers, while levels 3 and 4 are about reducing costs to the ISV to scale their operations. The important take away for the ISV is that the value of levels 3 and 4 are highly sensitive to the ISVs projections about the number of customers they need to support along with the level of customization that each customer requires.

Based on this maturity model, attendees first told us where they are today. The following pie chart shows how ISVs rank the maturity of their existing products. Note that over half of the ISVs put themselves at the most basic level - web-enabled application.

Next, we asked ISVs where they would like to be in 12 months. The following pie chart shows where ISVs would like to see their product offerings in 12 months. Note that the bulk of ISVs intend to deliver self-service customization, but fewer ISVs plan on moving all the way to a multi-tenant, cloud-scalable solution over the next 12 months.

Admittedly, this survey data is more anecdotal than rigorous (there were only 35 respondents). However, it is an interesting indication that ISVs are looking for an incremental methodology for migrating their applications to SaaS, rather than a big bang approach in which the ISV does a complete rewrite of their software.


  • Click here for more about IBM's SaaS enablement program
  • Click here for more about the SaaS maturity model

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Christopher Keene

Christopher Keene is Chairman and CEO of WaveMaker (formerly ActiveGrid). He was the founder, in 1991, of Persistence Software, a San Mateo, CA-based company that created a new approach for managing data in high-transaction banking and communications systems. Persistence Software investors included Cisco, Intel, Reuters and Sun Microsystems. The company went public in 1999 on the NASDAQ exchange and was sold in 2004 to Progress software.

After leaving Persistence Software in 2005, Chris spent a year in France as chairman of Reportive Software, a Paris-based maker of business-intelligence tools, and as an adjunct professor and entrepreneur-in-residence at INSEAD, a leading graduate business school.