Web, Scalability, SAAS

I was having a conversation a few days ago with someone and we were back and forth about software development within the enterprise and startups/web companies. The point kept going back and forth of how facebook/google/amazon doesn’t really apply to enterprise software development. His primary point was that none of these sites really have a deep feature list. While they’re able to handle scalability well, it’s not the same as supporting a variety of features. At the time one startup that would be a prime example of what I’m about to detail did not come to mind. Salesforce, salesforce has a respectable feature list, yet is also one of the web companies that has managed to scale well. The interesting thing about web companies is the best ones are the ones that can truly scale to a mass audience. Many can offer an okay service, but scaling that service is a truly difficult task. Many would argue that extensive testing and rigorous QA will help to offer enterprise quality software. But to this note I very strongly disagree, in coming years we are going to see more and more of a facebook model. Facebook as they develop code they test against live data, it will be the individuals that coded and perhaps a few others, but is really not much more than a smoke test to make sure things are still working. They then role out the new code and when things break they are ready to fix them. Why does this work? Why are users okay with the site being down at times? Well personally I will settle for more features at a few inconveniences most days of the week. Seldom is software 100% solid, I have even seen bugs in notepad, so as a result you cannot expect software to be perfect. Instead with a SAAS, software as a service, model you do not have to worry about software updates. You simple update the site or service, and then you can role out these features more rapidly. Instead of office being a 2-3 year large product update, you push new features to the site at a weekly basis. You also alleviate some of your burden of supporting a variety of installations and versions of your product. Because of these points it’s more important that we pay attention to these companies that have gotten scalability right. The facebook’s, google’s, amazon’s of the world that can handle millions of hits per second, once enterprises have a firm understanding of this, they can attempt to them build their feature set within a SAAS model. When we get to this point features will be built in faster and software will begin to grow faster than in previous years.