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Issue of August 2006 
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Business continuity with SaaS

The SaaS concept is making its presence felt and any organisation using IT will definitely want to cash in on its benefits. Citrix Online's Managing Director, H R Shiever talks to Rishiraj Verma about the future of SaaS in India.


H R Shiever

What are the trends with regard to the concept of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in India?

There are a number of SaaS vendors in the Indian market today and a lot of them are enjoying good rates of adoption. IDC recently reported that by 2010, 30 percent of new software and application purchases would be SaaS-based.

When we started selling our products, customers asked us if actually implementing SaaS-based software would be important or even beneficial. Now the question doesn’t exist. People have also started realising the good uptime potential of the model.

How does SaaS ensure business continuity?

The availability of the model is many times higher than a premise-based application. It may not be cost-effective for a company to set up its own data centre. But when it uses a service like this, it ensures that there is availability and latency of data at all times.

In a city like Mumbai, where rains can sometimes bring all transport systems to a standstill, a business and technology model like this will make sure that work gets done even if it has to be from home. For example, we have five data centres that are certified. They are fully redundant.

Is the concept viable for smaller businesses as well?

The SaaS model with subscription as its base works out well for SMBs. This can be
substantiated by the fact that you don’t need to buy hardware, software and maintenance. You don’t have to worry about integration either

The SaaS model with subscription as its base works out well for SMBs. This can be substantiated by the fact that you don’t need to buy hardware, software and maintenance. You don’t have to worry about integration either.

This model goes with only a year of commitment as against a lifelong one. The absence of the need to upgrade systems makes the model accessible to SMBs.

Are there any possible problems that businesses may face because of the Web-based nature of SaaS?

Not really, because you are not actually deploying or configuring anything. So, there is actually only a light footprint of the whole implementation in the organisation.

It is the simplicity of the model which is one of the appealing factors for any organisation looking to implement it.

What about security hassles, since the software can also be shared by multiple businesses or organisations?

Specifically talking about Citrix, our solutions have a secure architecture. GoToMyPC for example, uses 128-bit AES encryption sessions. We do not decrypt and re-encrypt SSL information.

Our solutions are more tool-based than storage. So in effect, you only access your PC. There is no real storage or data risk. Also, we meet compliance requirements such as privacy and security.

What type of an investment should an organisation look at if it wants to deploy the SaaS system?

Because of the monthly, quarterly and annual billing, the user can decide the actual value of the service before deploying it. Therefore, the option of implementing something and not being able to use it fully is completely blocked out at the outset

This depends on the application to be deployed and how big the organisation is. We have entry level solutions in GoToMyPC. These can be procured at under $2,000 year.

Because of the monthly, quarterly and annual billing, the user can decide the actual value of the service before deploying it. Therefore, the option of implementing something and not being able to use it fully is completely blocked out at the outset.

What is the kind of customisation that is needed?

Typically, in Citrix’s case all we require is a Windows-based platform and a browser, some companies use a CRM system or a data warehouse. So, just like the pricing, the customisation will also depend on business requirements. It can be as light or heavy as you desire.

What are the offerings from your side and why do you think they will be successful?

Most companies have a business continuity plan and good infrastructure in place. However, most of them do not have a remote access plan. In those cases, we’re offering an insurance policy that can ensure that employees can work from home.

Essentially, for 100 PCs in bulk we charge a premium of $39 a year per PC. Ideally, it works much like insurance but the premium is low. This is a new initiative. I really think if we take it from the Indian perspective for medium to large businesses, it will be successful.

We have products called GoToMyPC, GoToAssist and GoToMeeting which are all relevant to the virtual support and remote desktop markets around the world. These products were introduced in India mainly because we have been making our presence felt here for the last 12 months. And now, the goal is to deepen our geographical reach in the country. Mumbai and Delhi are our major targets.

Our main target audiences are BPOs and companies in the IT space. And to continue our initiative, we are soon going to launch GoToMeeting Corporate, which will focus on meetings that include 25 people or less. To add to this, we are also trying to enable SMBs to access technology that was earlier used only by the much larger players. We plan to do this with the help of GoToWebinar, an online seminar product.

 
     
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