SaaS at AJAX World… Not! - InformationWeek

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3/28/2007
12:30 PM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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SaaS at AJAX World… Not!

I spoke about Rich Internet Applications (RIA) at Ajax World last week… great attendance, good speakers, good topics but no SaaS. Okay, a little SaaS. I think the SaaS players need to be serious about Ajax and RIA. Ajax is changing the Web. As true dynamic Web interfaces are taking the place of static, pump-and-pull HTML/HTTP, we're seeing a sea change in what users expect from Web sites and SaaS.

I spoke about Rich Internet Applications (RIA) at Ajax World last week… great attendance, good speakers, good topics but no SaaS. Okay, a little SaaS. I think the SaaS players need to be serious about Ajax and RIA, else their customers make the call for them.

Ajax is changing the Web. As true dynamic Web interfaces are taking the place of static, pump-and-pull HTML/HTTP, we are seeing a sea change in what users expect from Web sites and SaaS.According to Gartner, by 2010, 60 percent of new applications will include RIA capabilities, meaning support for user interfaces that look very much like native interfaces, including sliders, radio buttons, etc.. Moreover, RIAs will provide a strategic advantage for many Web-based companies, especially B2C companies that are looking for better service for their customers.

By building RIAs using Ajax and other technologies, the SaaS players will have access to a number of compelling features that will make using SaaS that much more of an easy decision. These include:

• Dynamic Behavior • Informational Content • Disconnected Capabilities

Dynamic Behavior means that the interface that's dynamically downloaded and invoked on the client looks "native." That means that it's very difficult to tell the difference between an on-demand accounting application using Ajax and Quicken running natively on your client. Most of the user interface control sets are provided dynamically for the user, delivered over the Web as a browser-based application.

Informational Content means that we can mashup some of the goodies we find on the Web, such as sports scores or market prices, with the core application data. For example, say we're running a SaaS application that provides inventory processing for a produce vendor. No reason why the SaaS app can't take advantage of the weather data available on the Internet and display that information in the context of produce pricing, perhaps even providing a graph of produce pricing as related to weather. Not that this is impossible today, but when using AJAX, mashing up such applications is much easier and the resulting applications are much more attractive.

Disconnected Capabilities mean that we are no longer limited by Internet connectivity. One of the biggest reasons the market embraced SaaS was the fact that the architecture meant it could be used in places where there is no Internet connectivity. When leveraging some RIA technology, Ajax included, you can offer mechanisms to cache data, work offline and sync up when a connection is reestablished. This liberates the user from Internet dependencies and provides opportunities for wireless SaaS applications. It also ensures productivity where bandwidth is low and outages are common.

I'm sure RIA is on the radar screens of the larger SaaS players; so let's see their Ajax online and hear more about their RIA strategies!

Application integration and service oriented architecture expert David Linthicum heads the product development, implementation and strategy consulting firm The Linthicum Group. Write him at [email protected].I spoke about Rich Internet Applications (RIA) at Ajax World last week… great attendance, good speakers, good topics but no SaaS. Okay, a little SaaS. I think the SaaS players need to be serious about Ajax and RIA. Ajax is changing the Web. As true dynamic Web interfaces are taking the place of static, pump-and-pull HTML/HTTP, we're seeing a sea change in what users expect from Web sites and SaaS.

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