Software as a service (SaaS) is all the hype these days as tough economic times demand leaner and meaner software solutions within the enterprise. Gartner research has predicted that revenues from SaaS will reach $8 billion is 2009, a 21.9% increase from revenues in 2008.
However, despite the promising implications of SaaS in the enterprise, AllenPort feels that the all web-based approach is not always best. Rather, AllenPort proposes what it characterizes as a “hybrid” SaaS, in which applications and files can be accessed both locally and remotely in the cloud. With AllenPort’s “virtual file cabinet,” businesses can host files, applications, and user settings such that they are accessible from any Internet-connected computer. Furthermore, this information is also stored locally, allowing one access to their work in the absence of WiFi or during the inevitable disruption of connectivity.
A particularly useful feature of the service is integration with Microsoft Office. Through a partnership with Microsoft, Allenport offers full-fledged versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Exchange, and Access from any device with Allenport installed. Users can download Office applications wherever they may be working, and can continue with work in the absence of Internet connection.
AllenPort is one of several companies that feel on-premise applications are an imperative addition to storage in the cloud. Under the hybrid approach businesses are able to enjoy the advantages of the SaaS paradigm without a critical dependence on Web access. Egnyte, Ctera, and Digi-Data , to name a few, all offer variations of services offering both local and cloud storage. AllenPort seeks to take the idea a step further by mirroring data from the client to the cloud, functioning as a full IT infrastructure and, in many cases, replacing the LAN.
It will be interesting to see how recent announcements from Microsoft and Google will affect companies offering hosted versions of the proprietary software. If Web-based offerings come to offer a level of functionality that appeals to small businesses rather than just individual consumers, the playing field may be drastically altered.