The team has been working flat out on the new version of our software, and last night we did a huge release of source code that has been building up and up and up over the last 3 months. So far, everything is running smoothly (touch wood) and I am really pleased and excited.
The thing is .. logging in this morning, none of our customers will notice any difference.
This is one of the “joys of SaaS” and something that is hard to put across to customers as a benefit. “We are working hard for your money, honest!” I say; but when the only thing they see is an hour of scheduled downtime, then it’s difficult to prove.
If we were offering an on-premise solution, the customer would have to pay for a new version, and put up with (and probably pay for) months of implementation. Because of this, as an on-premise provider, you would need to ram in new features to justify the extra cost, when in fact a big part of staying up to date is making sure the low-level stuff (database, code base, framework) is regularly refreshed. How many corporates do you know that are still running applications that “only work on Windows 2000” or “need IE6”. As a SaaS provider, you’ve got the luxury of doing things in phases: you can do a “boring release”, and then do the “cool release”. Once you’ve got the low-level stuff sorted, you can then offer new super-cool features you could never have offered if you were on your old stack. Just don’t expect anyone to pay you for the boring stuff.
In the last 6 months we have completely changed our infrastructure, introduced a new framework, brought in multi-lingual capability, refactored out about a quarter of our old code. It’s like painting the Forth Road Bridge!
As the MD / CEO, you must make sure your team are continually doing some of the “boring” stuff (mixed in with the cool stuff of course) or your will get bitten later.
Now, onto some cool stuff…!