Archive for September, 2008

The Real Cost of SaaS

Software as a Service

SaaS, or Software as a Service is being hailed as the greatest thing since slice bread. It’s got loads of advantages over it’s traditional desktop equivalents. For developers and entrepreneurs it’s a dream business model, but for consumers it can actually end up burning quite a large hole in their pocket, especially if they need to use more then a few services at once.

To highlight this I’ve done a little test to see much it costs to run all my favourite SaaS services with an average paid account.

Right now, I use 10 online services that I either pay for or expect to pay for at some point in the future. These are:

Not all of these pricings are based on a yearly or monthly charge, so lets make some assumptions:

  1. That on Campaign Monitor I’ll send 12 newsletters a year to 200 people ($5x12x$2.00=$120)
  2. That I need 3 Google App accounts ($50×3=$150)
  3. That I need to remotely manage 4 servers on LogMeIn ($69×4=$276)

Now lets add it all up.

Service

Monthly Cost

Annual Cost

Freshbooks $24 $288
Campaign Monitor $10 $120
Google Apps $12.50 $150
Lighthouse $24 $288
LogMeIn $23 $276
Remember the Milk $2.08 $25
Springloops $32 $384
Basecamp $49 $588
GRAND TOTAL $176.58 $2,119

So that’s $2,119 per year for all the online software I need to run my personal life and my small business. Is this an acceptable cost? Probably. But the few dollars a month really add up once you start to use more then a couple of services.

Compared to the licensing costs of Windows XP and Microsoft Office (which are one off’s) these costs are seriously high, so although SaaS provides new and exciting opportunities it can also be expensive compared to traditional software solutions.

So the lesson here has to be that before deciding to pay for a subscription based SaaS service, make sure you’re 100% confident you need it for your business. Otherwise it could end up costing you more then you expected.

Tuesday Push – eWrite Lite

eWrite Lite - Simple Content Management

Gordon Murray’s eWrite Lite is a tool for editing and publishing a website’s content. It’s simple to setup and uses a very similar editor to the one you’d find in WordPress and other popular content management systems.

eWrite is this week’s Tuesday Push, and instead of talking it up directly, I’m going to take a slightly different approach and write about it’s online demo, which seriously impressed me.

All Demos Are Not Created Equally

I’ve tried and tested over thirty CMS’s throughout the years, most of which I tested as a hosted version. Typically, the way an online demo works is by providing users with access to a preinstalled version of the software that resets itself every hour or so. Once you login you can have a look around and familiarise yourself with the interface and the controls.

The problem here, is that all the visitors have access to the same generic account, and what tends to happen is that these visitors add simple content in every nook and cranny of the system. You would think that this is a good thing but the type of content entered tends to be of the ‘hello world’ type rather then a carefully written page of HTML and CSS.

This half hearted attempt at testing the software doesn’t really give any indication as to how the editor will fair with ‘real world’ content that pushes the limits of the relevant W3C specifications.

However, the demo for eWrite takes a completely different approach.

A Real Test with Real Content

Instead of providing a generic account that resets every so often, eWrite gives each visitor their own space to test it’s capability, but where it really shines is that it prepopulates this space with pages and images of any website you want.

This means that you can test the full capability of the system with ‘real world’ content without having to type it in yourself. This makes it dead easy to see how your own website would render in the system and gives you a preview of how easy it would be to edit your own website.

This is a fresh and innovative approach to online demos that improves usability and really helps the user to understand the capability of the software.

Try It Yourself

The eWrite demo is available now, and as Niall has pointed out, you can easily use it to edit (a copy of) any page on the Internet. Great fun for all the family.

The Real Reason IE Stinks

How Chrome will Steamrole over Microsoft\'s IE

This is not another blog post about Chrome, it’s an observation I have on the current browser landscape and the real reason why Internet Explorer has barely changed in 10 years.

I’ll admit though that it has improved slightly, but it’s nothing compared to what should be happening in a truly competitive environment.

A Shift in Consumer Behaviour

Google are transforming how regular consumers expect software to be delivered. As a web developer, this is a very good thing. Five years ago, when people thought of the Internet, they thought of Amazon and eBay. Nowadays they’re thinking of Gmail and Facebook. This shift in opinion on how software is consumed is an incredibly important one, and it leaves the advantage square at the feet of Google.

When people think of software I want them to think of a web application. I want them to think of the Internet. That’s because I’m a web developer and the larger the demand for web apps, the more business comes through my door. So, just like me, Google are hoping for the same thing, except rather then looking for our business, Google is looking for our attention. And a more advanced browser will increase our experience, and our attention online.

A Better Browser Means more Power to Google

But for Microsoft, it’s just not in their interest for browsers to become more advanced. Microsoft knows that Google is the king of the Internet and if browsers become more powerful, so does Google’s platform of choice.

The browser is already starting to make the desktop redundant, and Microsoft knows it. They know that a more powerful browser means Google’s applications like Gmail and Google Docs will become even more of a threat to the likes of Office, and Outlook. So, it’s my hunch that they’ve been deliberately avoiding making any significant advancements to Internet Explorer for this very reason.

Chrome Changes Everything

With the launch of Chrome (and the open source Chromium), Google have taken matters into their own hands and I’m confident that we’ll start to see more and more powerful features being introduced for the new browser over the next 12-18 months.

At this point, Gears will probably take centre stage and we’ll really start to see how powerful it can be. Drag ‘n’ Drop from browser to desktop is surely just around the corner along with a plethora of other cool ways to interact with the desktop.

The release of Chrome has turned the browser world on it’s head, and Microsoft’s attempt at curbing it’s advancement is over. This is good news for Google lovers and great news for web application developers.

It’ll only get better from here on in.