University of Twente Student Theses


Software as a service: a framework for enterprise e-mail applications

Gupta, Komal (2010) Software as a service: a framework for enterprise e-mail applications.

Abstract:For any business be it a road-side bakery shop or a MNC conglomerate, IT Infrastructure has become an integral part of the business need today. Although the IT hardware needs of a company continue to fluctuate, with the ever-changing economic clime, it is becoming all the important for businesses to be updated in terms of the software that they use. Be it an e-mail solution or CRM system, or retail POS software, quick implementation, installation and updates to software have become all the more essential to enable the businesses to understand the business trends, especially in such economically challenging times. Large upfront licensing costs, maintenance, operations and support issues and delayed software deployments are problems that are keeping companies from focusing on their core business and are raising IT costs sky high. Such delays not only result in increased costs, but can sometimes also impact the companies’ key business growth plans. Could Software as a Service (SaaS), a (new) way of software deployment, possibly be the solution to all the above problems? Many seem to claim so. There are skeptics who believe SaaS is just a hype and disagree. Rather than providing clarity, the ongoing discussions on this topic across various forums are making companies even more confused. This thesis aims at taking away the confusion by providing an overview of the ins and outs of the SaaS business model. Our research objective consists of three parts: 1. Giving the reader an understanding of SaaS 2. Creating a detailed overview of the benefits and risks of SaaS 3. Defining what considerations need to be made before deciding to implement a SaaS based e-mail application So, what is SaaS? In short, SaaS is a way of software deployment where companies ‘rent’ software, infrastructure and support rather than buying it. SaaS is basically an alternative to the traditional software deployment model in which clients buy software that is located on their premises. There are several definitions of SaaS, but all come down to five characteristics:  Hosted software. SaaS is a software distribution model in which applications are delivered, maintained and upgraded (i.e., hosted) by a vendor/service provider;  Network based delivery. Services are delivered to customers over a network, typically the Internet;  Pay-per-use. SaaS is a subscription-based service model;  Multi-tenant. A SaaS application typically has a multi-tenant architecture;  Customization through configuration. A SaaS application is typically configurable, but not customizable. In other words, SaaS applications are generally not tailor-made. 8 | Komal Gupta We focus on enterprise e-mail applications as we are seeing major changes in the SaaS e-mail market: Google and Microsoft are bringing their SaaS offerings into the market and on the client side large companies are moving their e-mail data to these providers. The benefits and risk of SaaS are derived from desk research and five case studies. The case studies are done by means of interviews with companies who implemented SaaS based e-mail applications and companies who chose not to implement it. Being able to focus on core business, decreasing implementation time, decreasing initial investments and increasing global accessibility are some of the well known benefits of SaaS. On the flip side, SaaS could also increase the risk of losing business critical data, SaaS applications are less tailor-made and with SaaS availability, reliability and performance issues are to be expected, depending on the technological solution of the SaaS provider. After analyzing the case studies, desk research and interviewing SaaS experts we determined that companies need to focus on eight areas in order to assess whether SaaS will create business value for them or not. These eight areas, presented in our SaaS Decision Making Framework, are:  Motivations for SaaS  Legal, security & ethical issues  Tailor-made versus off-the-shelf  Integration  Migration  End-user awareness & acceptance  Evaluation of benefits & risks  Cost analysis We conclude that SaaS will create more business value than any other software deployment model if the two criteria below are met:  SaaS provides superior quality and improved implementation compared to premise based enterprise e-mail.  Solutions are found for legal, security & ethical issues, the requirements for tailor-made versus off-the-shelf software, integration, migration, end-user awareness and acceptance issues. The first criterion is met if end users are positive about the SaaS application and if the level of integration and migration that is required in the implementation is low. Whether SaaS meets the second criterion can be checked with our SaaS Decision Making Framework. In the framework we give step-by-step guidelines for finding solutions to the addressed risks. Although a SaaS implementation might seem straight forward, the case studies show the need for an intermediary party to manage the implementation process. With the help of our SaaS Decision Making Framework Accenture can fulfill this role by guiding companies in their decision making process.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Enterprise Architecture, Technology Consulting, Accenture
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Information Technology MSc (60025)
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