Agile development methodologies introduce the project roles of the chicken and the pig as demonstrated in this cartoon. When it comes to SaaS I think that SaaS consumers are chickens - they are interested in the success of the SaaS application; but the SaaS vendor is the pig - he is committed.
In my previous post "SaaS = Silo'ed applications as Services?" I spoke about the fact that many SaaS buyers do not have sufficient control, skills or budget to integrate SaaS apps with on-premise apps. This is a clear barrier to adoption for customers and a barrier to sale for SaaS vendors. The inertia caused by this disconnection is very significant - it means that potential SaaS consumers cannot realise the benefits of working with SaaS and it means that SaaS provider's value propositions are eroded because of the cost and complexity of integration. In order to overcome this impasse the issue of who is responsible for integration must be settled.
Neither party here has much to gain by owning the integration - from every perspective integration is a necessary evil rather than an activity which by itself adds value. However little there is to gain - the SaaS provider has a lot to lose if customers do not migrate. For this reason the SaaS provider must be flexible and must be able to offer customers integration options in order to promote adoption of their service. Failure to do so may mean that consumers will stick with what they have or will integrate with competitors who provide more flexible integration capabilities.
For me it is clear - the SaaS vendor must provide some integration support - in my next posting I will describe the key components of a SAAS-compatible integration platform.