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David Mitchell on IBM's SaaS Strategy


David Mitchell on IBM's SaaS Strategy
Listen to the entire podcast using the buttons below -- or Download the file

Participants of this podcast are Krissi Danielsson (KD); and Dave Mitchell (DM.)

KD: Hi! I'm Krissi Danielsson. You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that Software-as-a-Service, a.k.a. SaaS is all the rage right now. Analysts are talking about it and customers want it. So companies are rushing to make sure that SaaS offerings ready to meet the demands. But the road to SaaS can be fraught with challenges. And one company that hopes to help with these SaaS providers get on the right track is IBM. Here today to talk to us about IBM SaaS strategy for ISVs is Dave Mitchell, Director of Software-as-a-Service with IBM. Thanks for joining us today, Dave!

DM: Thanks for inviting me today, Krissi. I'm really pleased to be here.

More SaaS Resources

1. Read an executive summary of this podcast

2. Read another interview with Dave Mitchell at IBM's SaaS site

2. Learn more about IBM's Saas offerings

3. Read Krissi Danielsson's SaaS Week blog

More ebizQ Webinars and Podcasts

1. Webinar: Leverage Federated ESBs to benefit from a 'SMART SOA' -- With Gartner'sRoy Schulte and IBM's Leif Davidsen

2. Podcast: IBM's Leif Davidsen on a Three-Tiered Approach to ESBs.

3. IBM's Errol Denger Podcast: Transforming Online Sales with Web 2.0

KD: All right, great! So to start off, I know you must get this question all the time, but could you tell us a little bit about IBM's overall SaaS strategy?

DM: Yeah, sure. I do actually get that question a lot. And it's a tough one, in some degree, because IBM is obviously such a big company, and SaaS impacts so many different parts of IBM. But the way I tend to try to explain it, is I put it into three main categories. The first one is IBM works with ISVs and service provider that are looking to deliver SaaS solutions. So we have ISVs, both established ISVs that are moving to the SaaS model, and ISVs are being born on the Web to enable, deliver and market their SaaS solutions. So that's the first category.

The second category is IBM actually has a SaaS provider ourselves. And in that area, our Lotus organization offers things like Lotus notes, in the Software-as-a-Service model and just recently, we acquired a Software-as-a-Service company called Web Dialogues in the Web conferencing area. And in the third area, which is primarily led by our global business services group, is where we advertise an integrator of SaaS solutions for our clients. So we help our clients integrate SaaS solutions into their operations.

So those are the three main areas that IBM is working around SaaS right now.

KD: Great! So, going back to the first one of those areas, as far as what leads companies to IBM -- what are some of the major hurdles that you would face off, that ISVs face in developing a SaaS model? Are there unique considerations that they face in developing for on-demand vs on-premise software?

DM: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, really, the Software-as-a-Service model is very different from the on-premise model. I mean, there are financial, business and technical considerations to be taken into account. So, yeah -- from the financial side, that's things like revenue recognition, and sales compensation. From a business perspective, you need to look at the whole marketing mix, it's really very different for a Software-as-a-Service solution. And if you look at some of the very successful software service vendors in the market, they tend to use much more pull marketing as opposed to push marketing. So, there's a tendency of much more marketing-led as opposed to sales-led.

And then finally, on the technical front, you need to address issues like multitenancy, like security and obviously the reliability of the service. And any one of those, and many more, issues -- if you don't really look at them and focus on them, they can really inhibit your ability to be successful in the Software-as-a-Service model.

KD: Okay. So for an ISV that is facing those challenges, what can IBM do to help with that?

DM: Yeah, sure! So we've been actually operating the Software-as-a-Service partner program now for about four years and have a very comprehensive program. We've worked with more than 150 SaaS providers. We have more than 150 that are working with us today to deliver their SaaS solution. And our program is really based around three main pillars. And the first one of these is enablement. Which is all about how do we help ISVs to enable their applications to be delivered in a SaaS model.

And over the last four years, we've actually developed -- throughout our experiences of working with dozens of ISVs -- a SaaS enablement road map. And we provide the ISVs with access to tools like a development sandbox and SaaS development blueprints to help them build their SaaS solutions on IBM technology. And many of these resources are free of charge and you can get access to a development environment free of charge to build your SaaS solution.

The second pillar is really all around delivery. So once you've built your application, you need to partner with someone to ensure that the environment on which it's delivered is secure and reliable. And we work with our partners using a combination of IBM hardware, software and managed hosting services to help them deliver their SaaS solutions.

And then, finally, and probably most importantly, the third pillar of our program is all around go-to-market. So, once you've designed and built your application and once you've got it delivered, how do you take it to market and ensure that you raise awareness and generate demand for that solution? And at the end of the day, we have a vested interest in seeing our partners be successful because the more they grow, the more they use our infrastructure on the inside.

KD: All right. And on the subject of going to the market, can you offer some specific example of past partners that IBM has helped with start-up SaaS offerings to get to market?

DM: Yeah, no, sure. I'll give you -- there are so many. But let me kind of give you a few examples. And we have many of these written up. But I'll give kind of three quite different examples. So, the first one would be a company like BIPT. BIPT is a SaaS provider, all they really do is focus on SaaS and they're actually in the area of mortgage processing in the insurance market. So, they're a company whose whole solution is enabled for SaaS for allow for mortgage brokers to process their claims. And we've been working with them, and we actually assigned a SaaS marketing consultant to work with them to raise awareness for their solution and generate demand. And they're doing incredibly well in their market.

A second example would be someone like Right Now Technologies. A very well-known CRM vendor in the SaaS area, and we've been working with them to help them expand into Europe by operating their UK data center for them. And then finally, there's an interesting partner. Again, another great example of a SaaS company called Janeeva, J-A-N-E-E-V-A. And Janeeva actually are really forming their own market segment called Outsourcing Relationship Management. Which is all around how some enterprise customers manage the various outsourcing relationships they have, across areas like call center and software development, etc. And we've been working with them to help them penetrate some of our enterprise accounts.

So, there are just kind of three examples. We're raising awareness and demand generation, global expansion and account access. Are just three of the ways we are working with our partners.

KD: All right, those are some good examples. So, going back to what you had mentioned about IBM's road map. You sent us a graphical representation of this road map and listeners should be able to view this on the transcript or the summary page that accompanies this podcast, but could you talk a little bit about that graphic and what it shows?

DM: Yeah, sure. So we talked earlier about enablement being one of the key pillars of our program, and this is a road map that we've been working on and put together to help our partners really make that transition from an on-premise model to a Software-as-a-Service model. And what we've identified is, is a number of steps here, starting with Business Strategy. You have to get your business strategy right. And then from there, move into Architecture, Enablement, Delivery and Go-to-Market.

And each step of the way, there are options that the partner may make. And we don't believe there is one model-fits-all here? We believe that each step of the way, there can be various options. Some of these options, we think IBM can help you with. And some of these options, we've actually partnered with companies to help our ISV partners. But the idea is this provides a road map for an ISV to work through and to help them understand and put together their SaaS enablement plan.

KD: Sounds good! So if listeners who are working with ISVs want to find out more about IBM services in this field, where can they go to learn more?

DM: Well, I mean, for the first point of contact as with everything these days is probably our Web site. So we have a great Web site at IBM.com/isv/saas and from there, you can find all about the things we talked about today. You can find out about the development environment, the SaaS sandbox, our blueprints and all of our go-to-market benefits. But you'll also find at that site, some details about some upcoming events we have.

And we have some really great events coming up. We're actually going to be running, in the next couple of months, a series of no-charge half-day workshops. Specifically for ISVs that are looking to adopt Software-as-a-Service. We call these events "Fast Start to SaaS." And we'll have one on the 7th of November in San Jose. And then one on the 3rd of December in Chicago. And one on the 11th of December in Toronto. And then, if they're all successful, next year we'll repeat them in Europe and Asia Pacific.

So if you go to our Web site, you can find out details about these and sign up there.

KD: All right, great! So this has been Krissi Danielsson speaking with Dave Mitchell, IBM's Director of Software-as-a-Service. To our listeners, thanks as always for joining us and remember that if you want to listen to more podcasts, blogs or articles or download white papers, the URL to visit is www.ebizQ.net. Have a great day!

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