Software as a Service gives you a ready-made solution to a common problem, Infrastructure as a Service provides you with a blank canvas, but Platform as a Service (PaaS) gives you a powerful set of software development tools and, in many cases, a market for distributing your software. One of the most feature-rich platforms is Force.com so it would be remiss of me to not to reproduce one of their case studies (FinancialForce.com) here, but there are many alternative platforms, including Zoho Creator, which features in the second PaaS case study below (Oxfam America).
FinancialForce Accounting (http://www.financialforce.com/) was the first international Software as a Service accounting
system developed on Salesforce.com’s Platform as a Service system, Force.com. FinancialForce.com (originally called CODA 2go) was built by CODA Ltd who had 30 years’ experience with on-premise financial software, but realized that the future of software is on demand and in the cloud.
After consulting Salesforce.com engineers, CODA began with a pilot project using simulated data from a fictional but realistic target customer: a mid-size business with multiple offices managing a sizeable inventory. They made particular use of two standard features of the Force.com platform – reporting and workflow – and they integrated their software with the core Salesforce.com CRM so that Salesforce.com customers can add accounting software to their systems with a click of a button. By using Force.com, CODA saved an estimated two years of development work while opening new market opportunities (Salesforce.com, 2008).
On-demand solutions are not only growing in popularity, but – as Salesforce.com has proven – can have broad marketpenetration. It became clear to us that we needed to be on an on-demand platform, and that ultimately meant building on Force.com.
Liz Schofield, group marketing manager, CODA
In 2007, Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, were campaigning to reform the 2007
Farm Bill. They needed to set up an affordable, passwordprotected, web-based data collection tool to collaborate with allies, lead organizers and activists. After ruling out Microsoft Access and spending some time researching alternative database tools, Lindsay Shade, online communications coordinator of Oxfam, found Zoho Creator. Using Zoho Creator, Oxfam were able to track and report on their lobbying efforts leading up to the House campaign; and the reports were crucial to developing and adjusting their campaign strategy, enhancing their ability to identify policy makers who might be on the cusp of supporting their reform (Zoho, 2007).
If we did not have access to Zoho Creator, we probably would have taken much longer to launch/implement the data collection tools we needed and would not have been able to collect much of the valuable information that we used to inform our campaign strategy during the run-up to the House vote on the 2007 Farm Bill. In fact it probably would have taken several weeks longer, and that means we would have had no lobby information to use before the House vote. Wealso continued to make use of Zoho Creator to impact the Senate vote.
Lindsay Shade, online communications coordinator of Oxfam