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Since 2009 is coming to a close, I thought it would be a good time to review how I did with my predictions for the year regarding the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing market.

1. On-Demand Services Move From Why To How

According to a Sandhill.com/McKinsey survey of over 850 enterprise customers at the end of 2008, 74% were already favorably disposed to adopting SaaS platforms. As a result, Gartner estimates the SaaS market will have reached approximately $8 billion at the end of 2009, a 21.9% rise from $6.6 billion in 2008. Looks like folks have moved past “why” SaaS to “how” to get the most out of their SaaS deployments.

2. New Hybrid Models

The idea of hybrid SaaS and cloud computing models has been abhorred by industry purists, but the reality is that nearly every business will rely on a combination of on-premise and on-demand resources. In 2009, the concept of “location independence” became bi-directional. It not only means that businesses can move their software and systems to the cloud, but they can now also deploy SaaS and cloud computing solutions behind their firewalls via appliances or ‘applets’. This will enable them to meet their business requirements and satisfy their psychological biases. More importantly, it will exponentially expand the addressable market for SaaS solutions and cloud computing services.

3. Short-Term Slowdown, Long-Term Growth

This is not an easy one to quantify because many SaaS/cloud computing businesses are privately held or operate within bigger companies. However, the publicly-traded SaaS players saw continued albeit slower growth. As the VCs like to say, “flat is the new up!”

4. VC/PE Retrenchment

The VCs were also very concerned in 2009 about how they spent their “dry powder”. As a result, they invested in fewer start-ups and only “topped off” a handful of existing SaaS/cloud computing portfolio companies who they believe hold the greatest promise of a solid exit. The most notorious casualty of this strategy in 2009 was LucidEra, which pioneered the SaaS business intelligence (BI) market, but was not able to generate enough sales to win a new round of funding.

5. Industry Shake-Out and Consolidation

There were many other examples of company failures and acquisitions to illustrate the consolidation and shake-out of the SaaS and cloud computing industry. For instance, Xactly acquired Centive and Makana Solutions disappeared in the sales compensation segment of the market. NetSuite (N) also acquired and merged together OpenAir and QuickArrow in the professional services automation (PSA) market.

6. Acquisitions/Alliances Accelerate

There were also a number of interesting alliances initiated in 2009. One of the most innovative was Intacct’s partnership with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and its subsidiary CPA2Biz who named Intacct as its preferred provider of financial applications. This alliance gives Intacct access to a vast network CPAs who can serve as referral agents. It also gave the SaaS and cloud computing movement an important endorsement among one of the most conservative yet influential professions.

7. Focus On The Channel

The AICPA/Intacct alliance was just one of many new channel arrangements in the SaaS and cloud computing market. A number of SaaS vendors also launched or expanded their VAR programs in 2009. The most newsworthy was Salesforce.com’s (CRM) new VAR program aimed at broadening the company’s reach beyond its direct sales team.

8. The Google Generation Becomes Mainstream

Google (GOOG) intensified its focus on cultivated a new generation of office workers via its free Google Apps for educators and the government. It is also teaming with Verizon (VZ) to offer Android-powered cellphones to capture a share of the market and compete against the iPhone tidalwave.

9. Software/Business/Information/Managed Services Convergence

The convergence of software, business and information services has been evolving for a while. The best example of how this process is manifesting itself is Thomson-Reuters’ use of Salesforce.com’s Force.com platform to create and deliver a new wealth management service to its customers. ConnectWise has also emerged as a major proponent for SaaS and cloud computing in the managed services arena to make it easier for IT workers to do their jobs.

10. Obama Policies Promote On-Demand Services

President Obama’s CIO, Vivek Kundra, told the Wall Street Journal in March 2009,

I’m all about the cloud computing notion. I look at my lifestyle, and I want access to information wherever I am. I am killing projects that don’t investigate SaaS first.

In September, Kundra followed through on his promise to foster the use of on-demand services in the federal government by launching a new online marketplace of SaaS applications and cloud computing services, www.apps.gov.

Looks like I did pretty well with my predictions. Of course, I wouldn’t be reviewing them if I knew I had done poorly!

With my past success now behind me, I’ll post my predictions for the new year and decade ahead soon. Stay tuned.

Source: The Cloud Computing / SaaS Scorecard for 2009