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  • Larry Gregory

Cloud Platform Building Blocks

Cloud computing continues to disrupt the traditional on-premises software vendor model, providing customer advantages of faster time to market, more manageable cash flows, and easy access to advanced capabilities.  Cloud discussions to date have focused on underlying platforms or the customer-facing cloud applications.  However, cloud computing isn’t just for the big platform vendors and Software as a Service (SaaS) application providers.  There’s a growing need for cloud component vendors (Cloud Platform Building Blocks) to extend the functional capability of cloud software.

Cloud Platform Building Blocks

In the on-premises world, there are a host of component and solution vendors that can add functional capability to ISV products.  This includes components used during the development process as well as technology partners who provide full industry-specific implementations (e.g., the partner ecosystem around ERP products).  Horizontal segments like Business Intelligence have also grown to support substantial traditional ISV businesses (e.g., Cognos, BusinessObjects, MicroStrategy).

BI as a Cloud Platform Component

Gartner research indicates that one third of IT organizations plan to use cloud offerings to augment their own core Business Intelligence functions.  While SaaS BI is extending traditional on-premises solutions in the enterprise, it is more actively displacing traditional BI solutions among mid-market customers (who have less legacy commitment and greater cash flow sensitivity). Small and medium-sized businesses are expected to generate over $150B in cloud service revenue.

As a software company, your options for integrating BI into your SaaS application are 1) leverage platform provider tools to develop your own reporting solution or 2) leverage a 3rd party BI solution to shorten your time to market and leverage their specialized expertise.

Cloud Platform Building Block – DataRPM

DataRPM is an example of a disruptive BI “Cloud Platform Building Block”.  Their Instant Analytics solution enables SaaS ISVs (and analytics service providers) to quickly embed their unique search based analytics technology into their SaaS solutions.  ISVs define the BI capabilities for their customers using an intuitive browser UI and the underlying DataRPM SaaS platform takes care of scaling up to big data scenarios. This allows ISV end customers to mash up and analyze data from multiple sources, build ad hoc reports and dynamic dashboards, and collaborate among key stakeholders.

DataRPM Instant Analytics Dashboard

The Cloud Platform Building Block business model typically blends the consumption characteristics of cloud platform providers (which charge based on resource utilization) and SaaS application providers (which tend to charge based on users).  DataRPM models its pricing on number of records and number of end customers (you can request a demo, or sign up for a free trial at

Where to Go From Here

Are you building your SaaS solution as a self-contained application, as a solution platform, or as a cloud platform building block?

  1. As a self-contained SaaS application, how are you leveraging transaction partners (e.g., SaaS resellers) to reach high growth market segments?

  2. As a cloud solution platform, how are you cultivating a rich ecosystem of extensions through technology partners (ISVs) and services partners?

  3. As a cloud platform building block, how are driving marketing and delivering sales excellence to win SaaS solution providers?


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