Networking's greatest debates in Software

Classic debates include Open source vs. commercial software, Software-as-a-service vs. packaged applications,and Novell NetWare vs. Microsoft networking

Software-as-a-service vs. packaged applications

There's no doubt software-as-a-service is revolutionizing the business applications market. And while most people will say the death of packaged software has been greatly exaggerated, that won't stop a few software-as-a-service proponents from claiming the battle has already been won.

"Software is dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead," Jonathan Bush, chairman and CEO of athenahealth in Massachusetts, claimed a few months ago during a panel discussion on software-as-a-service.

Athenahealth provides Web-based services to doctors' offices, and like other software-as-a-service vendors, will tell you its product is superior to traditional applications because of its ease of use, frequent upgrades and monthly payment plans that are supposed to force vendors to provide better customer service.

In Bush's view, the Web equivalent of old-school software would be Yahoo charging US$2,000 a seat for the ability to look up directions, rather than offering a free online mapping tool as it does today.

"There's an acknowledgement that software in and of itself isn't that differentiating a thing," Bush said. "You've got to give software, and then you have to sell work."

But it's not hard to find software-as-a-service proponents who acknowledge this new trend isn't likely to spell the doom of packaged applications. It's more likely that software-as-a-service and packaged applications will ultimately co-exist and complement one another, both within vendors' product lines and within enterprises, says Jeffrey Kaplan, who runs consulting firm Thinkstrategies. Still, co-existence isn't exactly the same as peace and harmony, Kaplan acknowledges. There's plenty of room for sniping between the two camps.

"The legacy application folks tend to believe their applications are more robust, more full-featured, more mature, more powerful," Kaplan says, "whereas they consider software-as-a-service to be a skinnied-down version of the application for amateurs."

There's been a tug of war inside vendors who are concerned that offering Web-based services might cannibalize sales of their own software applications. And there are battles within enterprises, where end users want the ease-of-use of the Web and IT executives worry about security and reliability, Kaplan says.

"Business users obviously want to get more value from the application, and are less rigorous around the issues of security," he says. "Whereas the IT folks are very apprehensive about software-as-a-service because of the security issues, the loss of control and what they perceive to be hidden costs."

Big industry players such as Microsoft are recognizing the value of Web-based applications, but obviously believe that packaged software offers greater capability.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently said "the notion that says the Web model gets richer is truthful. At some point you'll think you're downloading a full operating system. But if you want the full capabilities of what the Windows and the Mac have you need to have Windows or the Mac. There's no free lunch here." -Jon Brodkin

Open source vs. commercial software

Open source software initially was a head-scratcher: "How can you make money selling something for free?" But once open source advocates clarified the meaning of free - "Free as in speech, not as in beer" - the open source economy took off.

Even Microsoft, which has made billions selling software, won the approval Oct. 12 of the Open Source Initiative, which said the terms of the Microsoft Public License and Microsoft Reciprocal License meet the OSI's definition of open source.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Staff Writers

Network World
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?