Giva Blog
Help Desk, Customer Service, Cloud & Security Insights, with a Side of Altruism!

Cloud Software Key Characteristics

The key characteristics of cloud software, according to IDC, include:
  • network-based access to, and management of, commercially available software
  • activities that are managed from central locations rather than at each customer's site, enabling customers to access applications remotely via the Web
  • application delivery that typically is closer to a one-to-many model (single instance, multi-tenant architecture) than to a one-to-one model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics
  • centralized feature updating, which obviates the need for downloadable patches and upgrades.
  • Cloud is often used in a larger network of communicating software - either as part of a mashup or as a plugin to a platform as a service. Service oriented architecture is naturally more complex than traditional models of software deployment.

Cloud applications are generally priced on a per-user basis, sometimes with a relatively small minimum number of users and often with additional fees for extra bandwidth and storage. Cloud revenue streams to the vendor are therefore lower initially than traditional software license fees, but are also recurring, and therefore viewed as more predictable, much like maintenance fees for licensed software.

In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, Cloud software turns the tragedy of the commons on its head and frequently has these additional benefits:

  • More feature requests from users since there is frequently no marginal cost for requesting new features;
  • Faster releases of new features since the entire community of users benefits from new functionality; and
  • The embodiment of recognized best practices since the community of users drives the software publisher to support the best practice.

What is the History of Cloud Software?

History

The concept of "software as a service" started to circulate prior to 1999 and was considered to be "gaining acceptance in the marketplace" in Bennett et al., 1999 paper on "Service Based Software".

Whilst the term "software as a service" was in common use, the CamelCase acronym "SaaS" was allegedly not coined until several years later in a white paper called "Strategic Backgrounder: Software as a Service" by the Software & Information Industry's eBusiness Division published in Feb. 2001, but written in fall of 2000 according to internal Association records.

Philosophy

As a term, SaaS is generally associated with business software and is typically thought of as a low-cost way for businesses to obtain the same benefits of commercially licensed, internally operated software without the associated complexity and high initial cost. Many types of software are well suited to the SaaS model, where customers may have little interest or capability in software deployment, but do have substantial computing needs. Application areas such as Customer relationship management (CRM), video conferencing, human resources, IT service management, accounting, IT security, web analytics, web content management and e-mail are some of the initial markets showing SaaS success. The distinction between SaaS and earlier applications delivered over the Internet is that SaaS solutions were developed specifically to leverage web technologies such as the browser, thereby making them web-native. The data design and architecture of SaaS applications are specifically built with a 'multi-tenant' backend, thus enabling multiple customers or users to access a shared data model. This further differentiates SaaS from client/server or 'ASP' (Application Service Provider) solutions in that SaaS providers are leveraging enormous economies of scale in the deployment, management, support and through the Software Development Lifecycle.

What is Cloud or SaaS Software?

Software as a Service (SaaS, typically pronounced 'sass') is a model of software deployment where an application is hosted as a service provided to customers across the Internet. By eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer's own computer, SaaS alleviates the customer's burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support. Conversely, customers relinquish control over software versions or changing requirements; moreover, costs to use the service become a continuous expense, rather than a single expense at time of purchase. Using SaaS also can conceivably reduce that up-front expense of software purchases, through less costly, on-demand pricing. SaaS lets software vendors control and limit use, prohibits copies and distribution, and control all derivative versions of their software. This centralized control often allows the vendor to establish an ongoing revenue stream. The SaaS software vendor may host the application on its own web server, or this function may be handled by a third-party application service provider (ASP). This way, end users may reduce their investment on server hardware too.

Save Money with Cloud or Hosted Platforms

Most SaaS platforms intend to provide the following:

Tenancy – The ability to distinguish one user from another in the data and execution aspects of a hosted application is a major tenet of SaaS. Generally, the concept of tenancy is void in traditional on-premise installs and can complicate architectures beyond what was traditionally accepted.

Scalability – The idea that a successful application will buckle under its own popularity is never good. Being able to accommodate your aggregated customer base is a must, and planning for success is a requirement.

Reliability – What good is a SaaS application that isn’t up?

Hardware Infrastructure – As a vendor, one of the operational headaches of SaaS applications is dealing with an enterprise-grade hardware infrastructure.

Value Added Services – A good platform should endow the application it hosts with value beyond what was developed by the vendor. The value should benefit the end user.

Ecosystem – As the number of vendors that host their applications on a given platform increases, and as the number of users using those applications increases, an ecosystem begins to develop. Ideally, this ecosystem allows all parties the ability to investigate and exercise their right to connections between ecosystem members, deriving value beyond that offered by any single SaaS offering.

Here is a good white paper on Saving Money with SaaS

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

IT Help Desk and Customer Service Software (ROI)

Giva may be able to significantly increase the Return-On-Investment (ROI) of your current Help Desk or Customer Service call tracking and reporting system.  In order to help you determine this, Giva hired an independent 3rd party to build a Best Practices ROI Model that will enable you to compare your current help desk or customer service software system to Giva. We need some inputs from you so that we can run them through our ROI calculation model.

After you provide some inputs, Giva will perform an ROI analysis and our professional services organization will summarize the results for you in a custom report. We know that you will find this ROI Analysis Report very helpful to justify whether Giva will generate a higher ROI than your current system.

Please take a few moments to read Steps 1, 2 and 3 and quickly review the entire Excel and let me know if you have any questions before you go off and start the exercise.

Open up a request and ask us for the Return-On-Investment (ROI) Excel tool at https://www.givainc.com/sales.htm

Knowledge Base Best Practice Features-Help Desk Institute

If you are looking for a knowledge base for your help desk or customer service software, consider these features:

Knowledge Base Record Spelling and Grammar Checker

This provides for a spelling check on all proposed knowledge base records to maintain the usability of the knowledge base software system.

Knowledge Base Record Action Notification

As knowledge base records moves through the approval process, designated approvers are automatically notified via email.

Knowledge Base Source Tracking

Defines the source of the knowledge base record such as a service group and agent. This is used to measure who is creating knowledge base records.

Knowledge Base Record History Field

A knowledge record history field keeps a permanent record of all changes to the record as well as who did the change as well as the date and time of the change.

Search Scope can be Widened or Narrowed

If the knowledge base search results are not satisfactory, you can widen or narrow the search scope to generate new knowledge base records without having to start the search from the beginning.

 

Here are two great White Papers on the topic:

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/customer-service-best-practices.htm

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/help-desk-best-practices.htm

Knowledge Base Key Features

Are you looking for help desk or customer service software?

When looking at the Knowledge Base module here are a few features to look for:

Automatic Customer Profile Creation

When a new customer requests someone contact them, besides creating a service request, the knowledge base software application automatically creates a new customer profile.

Capability to Designate Knowledge Base Records as "HOT" Knowledge Base Records Bypassing Approval

Some knowledge base records need to be available immediately without going through the approval process. A knowledge base proposer can designate any record as "HOT.” The knowledge base record is then immediately available for others to utilize. Later, if the knowledge base record is approved, the "HOT" designation can be removed.

Assign a Scope to a Knowledge Base Record

Record Scope is a field used for grouping knowledge base records for a single service desk, multiple service desks and parent/child companies.

Knowledge Base Record Redundancy Avoidance

When knowledge base records are initially proposed and also during the approval process, the knowledge base software automatically searches all existing approved knowledge base records to identify possible redundancies. This allows the knowledge bas record proposer or approver to consider these possible redundancies.

Here are two great White Papers on the topic:

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/customer-service-best-practices.htm

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/help-desk-best-practices.htm

Cloud/SaaS/Hosted or Traditional Software Licenses?

Here is a great white paper with a comprehensive look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis any decision maker should complete before making a choice between a SaaS or a traditional software deployment.

The key cost drivers for any software implementation are the cost of the software application, the hardware required to run the application and the people services required to design, deploy, manage, maintain and support the application.

> Traditional software pricing is limited to the cost of the software application, in most cases an upfront fee in exchange for a perpetual user license. It is up to the customer to determine the cost of the hardware and the people services.

> SaaS applications are charged on a subscription basis. The subscription fee includes the cost of the software application, the hardware and the people services.

This difference in pricing models can make an apples-to-apples TCO comparison “tricky”.

Software and hardware costs are well understood but the people resources associated with traditional software applications are often underestimated or omitted in a TCO analysis. As a result, the usage driven subscription cost of SaaS applications can seem to be the more expensive solution over a multi-year period. However, when these people resources are correctly associated, deploying a SaaS application becomes – in many cases – the more cost effective option.

This white paper helps in better understanding all the different cost factors and includes a TCO calculation for you that will help influencers and decision makers to better estimate the true TCO of a SaaS versus a traditional software deployment. The ultimate goal of this paper is to educate the reader that in some cases traditional software applications remain the right choice, but in other cases deploying SaaS applications provide a better business case.

Please see https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

Most Successful CIOs Use SaaS

It's not easy to become a wildly unsuccessful CIO or CTO. TechRepublic asked around to find out how this can be done. They found seven habits of wildly unsuccessful CIOs. I want to mention just one very important habit.


Wildly Unsuccessful CIOs and CTOs Create Solutions in Search of a Problem


With any wildly unsuccessful CIO or CTO, any problem that arises is handled, always, in-house. Always. "They think that what they do is so absolutely special that nothing off the shelf could fill their needs," said Scott Testa, Chief Operations Officer for Mindbridge, a leading provider of Enterprise Intranet Software solutions.  "They expend a lot of energy building a solution that could have been bought right off the shelf," Testa said. These same CIOs often are not open to other vendors or anyone else "who may have other ways of solving certain problems," Testa said.


This hardly reflects well on the IT department, which can lose quite a bit of credibility with the other non-IT departments and personnel. In time, this can spell smaller budgets and work staff. However, that isn't the only reason this CIO is unsuccessful. This habit also is a very expensive one. Their in-house custom solutions cost more time to develop and launch. Those same "solutions" could well be abandoned a short time later if a higher C-level executive gets wind of a better way—or even a worse way—if the in-house solution is genuinely a bad idea.

Smart and successful CIOs and CTOs look at Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to fill needs and voids quickly, painlessly and at a much lower cost to the company.

 

See the following link for a great White Paper on saving money with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

Reduce IT Help Desk Costs with Cloud/SaaS

Given the state of the worldwide economy, it is timely to now to review how much money your company can saved with Software-as-a-Service.  Why is Software as a Service (SaaS) so popular?  Is your company making budget reductions, but want to keep providing exceptional levels of customer service and support?  SaaS can help you reduce costs while giving your team a product that is generally easier to learn and use with minimal training and not require any IT resources to support. Every time you go to your IT department to ask for assistance, they probably say they have too many project that will directly impact revenue so they cannot help your with customer service software selection, deployment and ongoing maintenance. With Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you do not need resources from the IT department to get your project started and keep going.

It's the economics stupid!

Look at the Total Cost of of ownership for required hardware and software for a typical midsized Customer Service department, Call Center or IT help desk.  These costs do not consider the cost of the actual customer service, call center or IT help desk software.

It's Green and Cheap!

Also, do you really need to have more servers in your company data center burning up power for server operation and cooling. It's an inefficient use of energy. Ask a SaaS vendor if they use a multitenant architecture. Many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are architected from the start as pure web applications and have multiple customers sharing the same underlying server infrastructure.  This saves power and cooling resources by leveraging and sharing computing infrastructure. Smart CIOs and VPs of Customer Service are planning for this today.

Take a look at these numbers. Are you surprised?

GARTNER GROUP ESTIMATES- 3 YEAR INFRASTRUCTURE & ADMINISTRATION COSTS OF OWNING 2 SERVERS

SUMMARY:

3 Year Infrastructure & Administration Costs of Owning Servers $259,100

  •      Server Support & Maintenance $208,500
  •      Server Hardware & Software $50,600

DETAILS:

1. Database Server required
One server at minimum is required to run applications. DB server cost estimate is $10,000 for hardware. Plus annual maintenance contract and power 40% of cost per year. Use $10,000 x 40% x 3 years = $12,000
$22,000

2. Database Licenses Required
Microsoft SQL @ $5,500 processor license x 2 processors is $11,000. Plus annual software maintenance is 20%..$11,000 x 20% x 3 years =$6,600
$17,600

3. Web Server required
A web server is required for best performance. Total Web Server cost estimate is $5,000 for hardware. Plus annual maintenance contract and power cost is 40% of cost per year. Use $5,000 x 40% x 3 years = $6,000
$11,000

4. General Server Administration (O/S, Patches, Virus, BIOS, HD...)
Servers and O/S require continuous maintenance. Gartner Group estimates 65 hrs/year @ $150/hr. per server is $9,750 x 2 servers x 3 years is $58,500.
$58,500

5. Daily Incremental and Full Weekly Back-up
Your IT department either performs or must automate data backup. Back-up media storage process and costs associated with off-site storage. Gartner Group estimates $10,000/yr. per server x 2 servers x 3 years is $60,000.
$60,000

6. Required Application & Database Administration
Database and application requires continuous monitoring for performance and storage. Gartner Group estimates 50 hrs/year per installation @ $200/hr. is $10,000 x 2 servers x 3 years is $60,000.
$60,000

7. Man-hours required for upgrades
How many total IT man-hours are required to implement an upgrade (Backup, install)? Gartner Group estimates average upgrade requires 80 hrs @ $125/hr is $10,000 x 1 time/yr. x 3 years =$30,000. This does not included user training.
$30,000

Other costs to consider if you want to own Customer Service, Call Center and IT Help Desk software:

8. Up-front configuration required
Configuration requires outside consulting, significant time and input from your organization. As your needs change, this is an ongoing cost.

9. Frequency of incremental upgrades (Months)
How often does the vendor distribute upgrades? What is your required process to deploy an upgrade?

10. User Training
How much additional administrator and user training is required to gain proficiency with a complex client server application deployed locally vs. an externally hosted application? Do you need to maintain programmers and Crystal Reports experts on staff?

Here is a great White Paper on the topic.

The title is "Saving Money with Software-as-a-Service". See  https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

 

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