Astadia: Software as a Service - Mike Lingo

Over the next year, the software industry can expect a new trend of software as a service (SaaS). Astadia’s service delivery vice-president Mike Lingo shares his thoughts with CEO on the SaaS times ahead.

According to market data provider IDC, sales of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are projected to grow more than 30% a year and reach $21 billion in 2011. That includes sales from SaaS providers such as and NetSuite and major vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

However, as SaaS enters the mainstream, it is likely that large vendors will feel under increased pressure to offer effective platforms for ISVs, enterprises and SMBs. If the move by software vendors from traditional on-premise software to a services model is to be successful, they will need to provide programmable interfaces – not just end-user interfaces – to their services for regular customers.

Shifting requirements

For Mike Lingo, vice-president of service delivery for systems integrator Astadia, customers need and want the ability to access, integrate and create new value out of live, programmable data, information and functionality existing in the cloud. In turn, these same customers will want their custom-developed composite applications and integrated data available as programmable services.

‘There will be a fundamental shift as CIOs and IT groups try to work out how they can break up the backlog of application delivery challenges they had to deal with historically,’ says Lingo, whose firm recently picked up a customer satisfaction award from Eloqua.

‘As companies try to understand and embrace SaaS they need a trusted advisor to develop cost effective solutions. Being a full lifecycle partner means offering traditional management consulting but also having the backend expertise. Astadia collaborates closely with the customer teams that will manage and own the project when we’re done.’

According to Lingo, SaaS platforms can be scaled to enterprise delivery for complex projects that are multi-channel and global in nature. ‘Companies are now under more pressure to look closely at the IT infrastructure they have. The traditional IT cycle of having a project portfolio, a huge backlog, not being able to be responsive enough or having the tools or technology to deliver with a speedy-to-markets approach, is quickly eroded when you talk about the new platform options out there in the SaaS space,’ he says.

Integration of on-demand

One of the biggest problems faced by service and solution providers that work with software-as-a-service applications is overcoming customer concerns that on-demand software cannot be easily integrated with other applications and IT systems.

‘As a vendor selling to the European market, you used to need almost a complete solution before the purchaser was ready to pull the trigger on the investment,’ says Lingo. But he believes that with the platform story, and the tools and applications that exist in the SaaS space already, it is possible to stitch together solutions in a very quick fashion. ‘By showing the power of the platform we’ve done well in Europe as well as in the US. We support, Google, Eloqua and others, which really resonates with the technology leaders.’

Lingo says the challenge with CRM for enterprises will be migrating the heritage services they have onto these modern platforms, enabling them to create a customised set of user experiences based on customer feedback and customer-run processes. ‘Traditional development is much too expensive and cumbersome to enable this. Integrated analytics, which has been growing rapidly over the last two years, will be the driving force behind these kinds of services,’ Lingo notes.

As a trusted partner, Astadia has the ability to handle the full life cycle and unlock the potential of these platforms, which means affordable deployment of highly sophisticated solutions in reliable, secure and stable environments. ‘Developers and CIOs are becoming very excited about SaaS,’ Lingo says. ‘It’s different from the client-server based development we’ve seen in the past. CEOs are placing their CIOs in a transformed role now – he or she is no longer the employee who writes the cheques to build huge server farms. They are not just operating a cost centre, but a technology stack and solution that deliver business value.’

Mike Lingo, Astadia’s service delivery vice-president.