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The harsh realities of SaaS in Russia

In the past 6 months, the mysterious word SaaS does not leave the news feeds. Not a day goes by as the news screams - “A new SaaS project has opened ....”. Companies offering something on the SaaS model appear like mushrooms after rain, you do not have time to carefully consider one company and understand what they actually offer, as a new company appears.

Is the future of cloud and SaaS companies in Russia so "cloudless"?

Simultaneously with the advent of projects, a bunch of venture capital funds appear, wanting to buy a SaaS startup, and such large funds as RunaCapital, AlmazCapital. Integrators do not sleep either, and they are looking for successful SaaS startups to take for example Corus Consulting, Leta-IT ....

SaaS has become a kind of sacred cow and everyone considers it their duty to tear a piece from her no matter what SaaS is - the main thing is fashionable and it should be. With a smile, I remember the time 3-4 years ago, when everyone was running with ISO 9001 and wherever they didn’t meet this ISO - they all immediately became ideal companies with ISO business processes and quality management services. That's just the question of where it really works - has already become rhetorical.

By the will of fate, it so happened that I and my friends, now with colleagues, are raising a startup project involved in the distribution (sale) of software on the SaaS model. We do not offer any kind of our product, we present a platform for developers where they can freely and free of charge (all for the benefit of the user) their software using the SaaS model. We do not require any refinement of applications or their compliance with any standards such as APS (Application Packaging Standard). We provide all necessary services from secure channel to billing.
In order not to fall under the “I am promoting” stamp - I will not talk about my project, I will talk about the SaaS market in Russia through the eyes of companies, developers and consumers.

Where does a SaaS start-up - with a burning idea

We all use dozens of different software products and always need the same thing:
1. Low cost solution. Buying software is expensive - it is better to rent the software (SaaS model). This is especially true if the task is the temporary use of software. It's cheaper, support issues, upgrades, etc. go away.
2. Mobility. The home computer has long been outlived and many of us have a laptop, SmartPhone, iPad (if we are lucky) and it would be great to be able to use our favorite and familiar applications everywhere and always.
3. High performance. With each new software version, more and more resources and power are required.

The constant race of hardware updates is in no way linked to the mobility and compactness of the devices.
Fortunately, we have heads, hands grow from where it should be - we have put together such a platform that meets these requirements. Checked - everything works like a fairy tale.
And with these 2 ideas we entered the market - pure SaaS, no binding to hardware or operating systems, no local installation of software. XXX rubles paid a month for a subscription and use. It seemed that this solution would attract a large number of consumers, because it solves the problems listed above ....
And here we are faced with the realities of SaaS in Russia.

Software developers

Most software developers, unfortunately, turned out to be not ready to sell their solutions using the SaaS model (we do not consider companies that initially develop their solutions in the model of online services or SaaS. With such companies, everything is clear and wonderful). “The idea is interesting, promising, but software sales on the SaaS model will kill the sale of our boxes” is a typical answer from the developers.

What is the point of selling 1 box per month for 1000 rubles, if you can sell 1000 subscriptions for 10 rubles? Work with a low margin is not interesting. The effect of scale, full protection from unlicensed use, a new sales channel, entry into new markets, etc. remain only words and few people are interested. According to analysts, the sales of the boxes are left to live for 3-5 years, everyone understands this ...

Some of course think about the idea, others are piling up their garden - they come up with a web interface to the system (we are not talking about systems originally developed using a client-server architecture with web access) or issue time-limited licenses and call it SaaS.
As a result of this activity, a layer of dissatisfied users is formed, who scold SaaS for its poor functionality, inconvenience, lack of customization, etc. - In a word, these crafts cast a big shadow on SaaS.

Fortunately, there are companies with promising leaders, open to new ideas and ready for development. Perhaps all is not lost, and after the first successful (in commercial terms) SaaS projects, the worldview of others will also change.

Venture funds

With venture funds, the situation is a bit better. They are strategists and look to the future, and the future of the SaaS “grandfather” Gartner and other analysts promise us is simply golden. But here is another pit - standard for all start-up projects - most of the funds want to get a controlling stake in the company - and as a result, the probability of losing their business is very high. But even despite the bright prospects - the funds are looking very carefully. It is necessary to show a working business model, cash flow, etc. So by and large here is also not easy.


Finally, we got to the users, those for whose benefit it all started.
Who can be a SaaS user is, first of all, SMB-level companies, for whom it is easier and cheaper to get the necessary infrastructure and software for rent, than to buy and maintain, and of course private users.

User requirements for such a service are quite obvious and clear:
1. Easy access - everything should be as simple as Click and Play
2. Low cost - otherwise it is easier to buy a box
3. A wide range of software - all necessary applications should be in one place
4. High reliability and constant availability of service - otherwise, why is it needed.
5. Mobility - Platform, OS Independence, ability to work on virtually any communication channels.
6. Security - the service must be trusted.
After talking on the forums, the conference and personally we found hundreds of people who are ready to use this service when the listed conditions are met.

So we get that there are users who are ready and waiting for an adequate offer of SaaS service, but the offer is unfortunately still lame.

PS This article was written by my colleague IGonebnyy , who, unfortunately, doesn’t have enough karma yet to publish it in Habré on the SaaS blog.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/103935/

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