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SaaS Breakfast Exchange - blue sky thinking or cloud cuckoo land?

10 September
8 - 10 am
Pearl Restaurant, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN

Our Breakfast Exchange discussion was kicked-off by Steve Garnett, the European chairman of Salesforce.com, and Paul Cheesbrough, CIO at Telegraph Media Group. Paul joined the Telegraph from the BBC, where he was Controller, Digital Media. He writes on technology matters for telegraph.co.uk - see his blog on cloud computing. Steve understands the licensed software industry from his experience as Sales Director and Vice President of Marketing at Oracle and as head of Siebel Systems in Europe, and now runs the leading SaaS provider. Salesforce routinely processes 150 million transactions per day, performed by 1.5 million users. It achieves this with a multi-tenancy single-instance architecture pioneered by Google, Amazon and other consumer applications. Also participating in the discussion were Robert Baldock, Richard Cammish, Gavin Colman, Phil Cook, Peter Federico, Andrew Hickey, Jill Lucas, Robert Pitt, Rashmi Rao, Duncan Scott and Dominic Shine.

CIOs were agreed that using SaaS increases speed of deployment and cuts the time to deliver benefit. Paul Cheesbrough’s experience is that the time from idea to implementation reduces from between six and nine months to around three months. Another driver is that SaaS can significantly reduce cost.

There was consensus that the security and business continuity concerns are not a real barrier to adoption: concerns about ‘control’ and ‘knowing where data is’ are more emotional than rational. IT shops themselves are one of the biggest barriers to adoption, as obviously is the entire software industry, whose business model is fundamentally threatened by SaaS.

The challenges in implementing SaaS are the need to integrate between the different application ‘stacks’, to provide a single consistent look and feel across different services and to manage sign-on and security consistently. Strong enterprise architecture skills are required and there are still gaps and overlaps in the overall SaaS picture, particularly the middleware layers of the architecture.

This group of CIOs feel that SaaS and related changes are definitely shaping a future which is fundamentally different than the ‘software as an asset’ world. Whereas IT capability has been about development and operations, it is becoming about business process improvement, innovation and exploiting information.

There was an interesting discussion around the paradigm shift (of which SaaS is a part) in which the consumer web is now the dominant source of innovation and new capability. Development and architectures are overwhelmingly web development and web architectures. This is also the target of all the heavy investment in capability and capacity. There is also now an expectation of usability, functional richness and seamless integration from the generation of business managers who have grown up in the online world.

Breakfast Exchanges are an opportunity for selected senior executives to meet in a small group to discuss ‘hot topics’ in a confidential and informal environment. We would be delighted if you could find the time to come and contribute to future debates. Please follow the link below to find out more about upcoming Breakfast Exchanges. There are a maximum of eight places available at each event - if you would like to join a future Breakfast  Exchange please contact Fiona Farr at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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