What does Software Plus Services really mean?

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Anyone researching ERP software today is likely to come across the term "Software As A Service" (SAAS).  While enthusiastic about the concept, Microsoft has chosen to take a different approach by using the term "Software Plus Services".    SAAS solutions offer a web-based, fully hosted option in which the customer has no responsibility for infrastructure, software updates, hardware upgrades, backups, etc.   Software is never purchased, but essentially rented on a monthly basis for an unlimited period of time.  A great idea, but the big differentiator  for the Microsoft approach is that it offers the customer  "the power of choice" throughout the life cycle of the software implementation, an option known as "Software Plus Services".

Software Plus Services provides 3 options:  1) hosted, subscription model (SAAS),  2) purchasing software in a hosted environment, or 3) purchasing the software to deploy on-premise.  In the subscription-based, hosted model, initial cost outlays are limited and responsibility for the customer's IT department is low.   Again, a great idea.  However, over the long run this can be a significantly more costly approach, and can have some impact on customizations, integrations, etc.    At some point in time, the customer may opt to bring the solution in-house, purchase the software, and maintain it internally going forward.  With a SAAS solution, this is impossible.  With the Microsoft approach, it's completely possible, on the same version of the software.  Customizations, data, reports, etc. are simply moved into the customer environment - no need to migrate, upgrade, redo, etc., etc.     This approach gives the customer the flexibility to operate as their business needs dictate, not as their software company dictates.

If the SAAS model is appealing, evaluate the reasons why and consider Software Plus Services instead.

By RSM McGladrey Inc – NY Metro Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner

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