The first time I visited an ISV customer about 10 years ago, the owner showed me around the office and proudly told me about the 950 customers that ran his software. One of the larger rooms in the office had a CD replication machine. Years ago, back when CDs were part of everyday life, I had worked for ODME, a leading producer of optical disc machines, so I was taken by surprise when I recognized one in the office of an ISV!
I couldn’t refrain from asking: “What the heck are you doing with that thing?” (in a much nicer way, of course). He explained that he used it to make software updates to send to his 950 customers. Ah, yes. Of course.
So, when you think back about those days and the excruciating manual work required to provide updates, it becomes crystal clear why SaaS- and cloud-based software is today’s holy grail for ISVs. Doing an update on a single server obviously beats shipping 950 CDs and then having to handle the 200 related phone calls from your (semi-annoyed) customers who are struggling to install it.
Let’s skip the other nightmarish part where as an ISV, we had to manage our own in-house server (farm), pull in an extra internet line as a backup, had hot-swappable backups and disks, and wrestled to come up with backup and recovery plans for power outages and any other disaster that might knock us offline. Let’s escape into the time machine and fast forward to today’s dreamy cloud setups.
Nowadays, we expect the cloud to deliver. The ideal cloud scenario offers unlimited and variable scalability, is low-cost and extremely cost-efficient with a pay-as-you-use model. And regardless, running your application in the cloud is worth it because it’s always “up,” delivers stellar speed and performance, and offers continuous deployment of systems already in place. Truth be told, it’s more than a best practice for ISVs, it’s the only way for an ISV to run a business that makes sense.
But wait … this holy grail can quickly mutate into a nightmare, maybe even worse than what we had before. In the next blog we’ll talk about what can (and will) happen, how to deal with some of these scenarios, and what you should expect from your platform vendor.