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The SaaS Transition and the Importance of Web Performance


Small and medium sized businesses demand a SaaS (Software as a Service) model for many of their new applications.  Enterprises are also moving fast into the cloud with SaaS solutions for CRM (Customer Relationship Management), email hosting, marketing automation and more. Gartner says SaaS revenue in the enterprise application market will be up 16.2% in 2011 over 2010. Many ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) and finding that with the transition to SaaS comes with a significant new requirement – consistent and fast Web performance.

It is well known that slow websites are bad for business – they decrease revenues, lower website metrics like pages viewed, provide a poor user experience and lower search engine rankings.  Slow SaaS web applications are also bad for business – they can decrease usage and customer satisfaction, and when deployed as part of a business process, they can decrease employee productivity and lower employee morale.

Consumer Web Application

The SaaS Transition and the Importance of Web Performance












From a consumer perspective ? a web application that responds quickly may garner repeat visits, or the completion of the desired action.  However there are plenty of examples where many of you may have attempted to use a web application, only to find that its slow performance drove you away from the application, seeking another solution that performed better.

At the time of writing there are few web applications that are as interesting to monitor and track as online tax preparation software.  I am a long time user of one of the web based tax preparation applications. Most years, like this year, the performance of the Web application degrades as the tax deadline approaches. This poor performance creates a certain level of poor satisfaction and may drive users away.

Business SaaS Application Deployments

From a business and IT perspective a slow browser based web application can cause a myriad of issues.  It has become relatively easy and cost effective to have good Internet connections and local LAN performance. Therefore as the business considers and tests a new SaaS application, it?s application performance that IT is focusing on. Poor performance can place the SaaS vendor at the bottom of the consideration list.

In 2011 IT is well aware of the importance of user perception.  The transition to SaaS applications must be successful and employees need to be satisfied with performance. Employees are now demanding consumer level performance for their business applications.

In a recent survey by Kaminario, they discovered that reduced employee productivity due to poor application performance was cited as a critical issue by 25% of the respondents. Web application performance requirements can easily be tied to employee productivity by understanding page load, page refresh, data entry and system performance metrics.  For example, if a business process requires employees to view 4 data entry screens and there are 100 employees that are expected to perform make 10 updates per hour, a slow loading web application can quickly escalate to a massive productivity loss.

For years SLAs have had downtime as a key measurement metric, now many SLAs also have performance SLAs and metrics.  SaaS customers are now factoring in performance in their application vendor selection process.  More and more ISVs are spending more time on web application development efforts to ensure key web performance metrics are acceptable.  Going forward more ISVs will focus making sure their web application has a fast ?time to interact? metric – after all business productivity and user satisfaction depend it!

Have you personally experienced slow applications in a work environment?  Does your organization monitor performance SLAs for SaaS applications?

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