The biggest pleasure of switching to a SaaS ("Software as a Service" with a multi-tenant deployment) platform for our products (in the form of StatPro Revolution) is the increase in the quality of service that we can give our clients thanks to the simplification of the delivery of the service.
With traditional installed software, each client ends up having a subtly different configuration of software with different feeds of data, different versions and patches and different setups for the operating and database software. Some clients have strict rules about updates, others lack resources, so that clients fall behind your latest releases meaning that you have to provide a support desk with knowledge across a range of releases. When you add the different modules that are offered and the different combinations of those modules that clients can have, you are left with an incredibly complex set of configurations to support.
That complexity means you have to do a lot of checking at every stage of the process of upgrading to avoid problems. This takes a lot of time. One configuration can work just fine for one client and not at all for another. An upgrade can go smoothly in one situation and then mysteriously fail in another.
Good service from a client's perspective falls into two categories: does the product do what I want and is the after sales service responsive to my needs. To satisfy the first you have to keep upgrading your product as clients always want more, faster, and often for less, be it for competitive, regulatory or efficiency reasons. To provide a good after sales service you have to make sure that you master all the aspects of your software and the particularities of each client. You also have to ensure a smooth and hopefully rapid upgrade process. Throwing lots of people at the problem doesn't always help either as it requires expertise and experience to provide a great support.
With SaaS because the process is so much simpler, it is also much easier to provide a great and consistent service across all clients. With SaaS there is only one version of software in one installation with one environment. If it works for one client it works for all. If you do find a bug, once fixed, it is fixed for everyone. Even better, when you release new versions, every client gets that new version at the same time. So whereas with traditional software upgrades it might take several months to upgrade one client and a number of years to upgrade all clients, with SaaS all your clients get upgraded in a matter of a couple of hours. This means that we currently upgrade StatPro Revolution eight times a year whereas with our traditional software clients got an upgrade every two years on average. Because we have no old versions of software to maintain, all our development resource can focus on the current release, this is a much more productive use of resource. Because we can release software so often we can respond to client demand in a far more flexible way. For instance, one of our clients asked for "Aggregated Portfolios" in March 2012 (a major piece of development) and in June 2012 we delivered it, but not just for them, but for every client.
So because there is no installation of software, no upgrading of software, no need to test many environments and different versions and configurations of operating systems and database systems, no need for project teams to manage an upgrade process, no need to buy hardware, no need to buy licences from Microsoft for Windows or SQL Server, no need to plan around IT resource availability, the service is automatically better and a whole lot cheaper. Because upgrades can be made so often, the client can also get new functionality far sooner that would otherwise be possible, so the service is much more responsive to client needs.
After 20 years in the business of providing great software to the Asset Management industry, it is a real pleasure to be able to deliver that software in the best possible way to minimise hassle and maximise the quality of service we can give our clients. The fact that we can do this and also provide better analysis, greater functionality and all for a far lower total cost of acquisition is momentous.
I love it.