vrdiver wrote:I started my career as a programmer, working with mainframe and mid-range computers (ever heard of ADIBAS/Natural or IBM's System/36 and the RPG language?) I remember when "Minesweeper" was encouraged to improve mouse usage!
Mine started in the mid-90s for the EPOS retail and back office industry. Mostly "PC" based, weird DOS variants, with task-switching bolt-ons with C for the tills, and some VB+Oracle, C++ and SQL etc. for back offices. Man, was EPOS stressful! I remember the support calls if anything in-store went wrong.
Roll forward a few years and I managed some pretty complex system implementations for some interesting (to me) projects
Possibly my most exciting role involved a GUI for British American Racing (BAR back in the day), which collected information to feed to a simulation engine. Then onto protocol stacks and DSP work in the telecoms sector. Enjoyed that. Now (for past 8 years or so) writing debuggers for our firms micro-processors, still find it fairly rewarding.
But in all that time, I've never really been involved in packaged software, likes of which people buy in PCW or whatever (if those shops still exist).
What all of these had in common was an army of consultants being required to get them to work and a cash burn-rate that made the realisation of their benefits recede rapidly into the future. As the industry settled down, some of the costs were reduced by offshoring the labour, some by implementing via play-books and standard processes; but even then, the cost of ownership was still high.
One time in EPOS in the 90s, I was at firm with about 6 permies. In order to deal with a "large" new project, we expanded that with about 15 contractors over about a year and half. It was totally crazy. Like the wild west.
Even today, there are big IT projects going on, but most IT executives are interested in reducing risk and getting a specific service for a known cost. Oracle, SAP and a host of others have entered the SaaS market, offering to take a client's data and run it in a pre-configured implementation, where they (Oracle, SAP etc) will manage the hardware and the software upgrades, whilst the client just pays for the service.
Predictability of cost does seem about the most attractive feature to Saas to my mind.
The industry is still young, so who will win is very much up for grabs, but with network access making remote computing trivial, I suspect any software not required to be running in the event of a network catastrophe will migrate to SaaS - even MS Office, the personification of "Personal" computing, has returned to a type of SaaS model.
A ha! Do you mean the likes of Office 365?
Is that SaaS then? My role is suitably served with a much older version of the office, and as a programmer I'm involved in build and general UNIX power tools in any case...
As to where to invest, I'd be cautious of direct investment in anything "emerging" in this space. Better (IMHO) to go for a big player with the cash reserves to buy up small companies with good ideas, or else buy a basket of technology via an IT and let the professionals keep an eye on which companies are winning.
Thanks. Can you refer me to any software-focussed ITs?