While there are clear benefits in using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products one of the key risks relates to service discontinuation i.e. when a SaaS vendor stops providing the online software service.
This happens occasionally and not even the large vendors are immune. After reportedly paying around $30m for do.com Salesforce.com is discontinuing the task management software offering. Even Google has discontinued a number of products albeit mostly of the free to consumer market variety.
This is not altogether unexpected, especially when the software is acquired; as strategies change, financial viability is not achieved, integration into the core product suite is not clear-cut, the value proposition is no longer compelling or there is company culture mismatch to name a few. This is, of course, of little consolation to customers.
In most cases there is either a data export function or one will be made available to ease the transition to an alternative service. The time and effort of identifying an alternative, mapping and migrating the data, re-training, etc still remains.
Migrating from one software product to another, SaaS or on-premise, has always been challenging. As the SaaS market matures and larger investments are made in SaaS offerings, how will vendors, and the industry, react to allaying these fears?
Or does it remain a case of caveat emptor?