A curious fact (or maybe not so curious) that I have noticed in the inevitable spate of new year prognosticating is that everyone seems to believe that the field about which they are prognosticating is going to "take off" with the new year. All of these pundits, each in their various fields, have good, well-reasoned arguments for why this should be so, but it seems unlikely that they will all be right, and more likely that the steady curve of existing trends will tend to prevail. But the predictions of explosive growth continue nonetheless. And indeed, this seems to be the case with recent pronouncements from Nick Carr, Phil Wainewright, and Jeff Kaplan regarding the Software as a Service (SaaS) market.
It's true that SaaS acceptance and utilization has been trending upward and will in all likelihood continue to do so. But I can't help but wonder if this is also one of those cases where expertise and logic blind people to the often illogical choices of those who are not experts: a class of people who include many of the decision makers who will give a thumbs-up or down on SaaS adoption in businesses.
Phil and Jeff each have a number of excellent points supporting their contentions, namely that the concept is no longer entirely foreign to business and IT executives, and that the service delivery technologies have improved markedly through 2007. But they also joinin another curious argument, which is that an increase in capacity will fuel the market growth this year.
The reason I find this curious is because I have never had the impression that capacity has been an issue in SaaS adoption, at least for the consumer. Indeed, one of the primary benefits is essentially unlimited capacity… I have yet to hear of anyone backing away from a SaaS project on account of capacity limitations; even if such exist, the customer is unaware of them due to the very nature of the platform. Instead, the barriers seem to be technical or psychological… IT staff are swayed not simply by the availability of the service, but by its capabilities, and executives not simply because it exists, but because they are able to trust it and attain new levels of efficiency in using it.
I'm not saying that those concerns can't or won't be addressed, but I think that they are more significant factors affecting SaaS adoption than data center construction or . If growth does explode this year, it will be because those issues are addressed, not simply because more capacity is introduced or more vendors find ways to slap a "SaaS" sticker on their products.