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SaaS Yes; Hosted No?

Zeus has a great post on his predictions for 2009; you should definitely read it closely. I want to pick up on one section of it, which is his predictions about communications moving to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.What struck me about Zeus's SaaS argument was that he framed it entirely within the context of the trend in how software is bought, deployed, managed and used. This is the mega-trend that he sees as inevitably working its way into the communications world.

That's a very different justification for outsourcing Unified Communications than the argument that you're hearing everywhere these days, which is that enterprises will start using hosted UC because they want to start using the capabilties, but don't want to or can't make big capital investments. It's one of those arguments that seems perfectly logical, unless you have much experience with how enterprise managers seem to think in the real world. Exhibit A: my post from yesterday based on our Psytechnics webinar, in which 85% of our respondents to a poll question said they plan to deploy and manage videoconferencing--arguably one of the more challenging UC applications--in house. Maybe that's because videoconferencing is, and likely will remain, a pretty hardware-focused application.

In contrast, Zeus's argument takes for granted that enterprises will truly begin viewing communications as software-based--something that every vendor talks about now, but most customers are still holding back on, primarily because they're still in the relatively early stages of deploying basic voice over IP. He's predicting that this process will gain momentum in 2009, and that other vendors in addition to Cisco will stake a claim in SaaS.

So it makes sense for enterprises to follow communications' transition to the software model, and see if that leads them to service providers.