John Sheehy

Advantage Doesn't Push Updates Automatically: Here's Why

AdvantageCS is fortunate enough to still be around since the late 1970’s and in the nearly 50 years of operation, we have seen incredible advances in technology, the rise and fall of massive software companies, and watched market disrupters by the dozens. From a software delivery standpoint, no advancement has impacted the market more than the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. In short, SaaS is a software distribution model where applications are accessed over the internet, hosted and maintained by a third-party provider, eliminating the need for installation or infrastructure management. Many of today’s biggest software providers have adopted this SaaS model in part or in whole.

And yet, our Advantage platform continues to be successful without full adoption of this model. Do we know something the titans of the software industry do not? Is there still room in the marketplace for non-SaaS models? (Spoiler alert: We think so!)

First, a bit of background. During the late 1990’s, companies like Concur (later purchased by SAP) and Salesforce were experimenting with the SaaS model. At that time, we were investigating similar technological delivery systems. Back then, just like today, the SaaS model was attractive for many well-documented practical purposes in addition to the market potential of acquiring new categories of clients. However, the full SaaS model is at odds with three key drivers of our platform that our clients rely on: control, flexibility, and data ownership.

Control

Our clients rely on a carefully controlled and orchestrated technological ecosystem. It is naïve to assume the Advantage platform is the only critical piece of a client’s ecosystem. For example, we had a client implement a new, corporate-wide HR system and needed to freeze all the other systems to control the system levers. A SaaS model complicates this business activity, but Advantage is well positioned to be “frozen” for a period and then “thawed” when operations return to normal. Allowing our clients control over when and what is deployed is critical to their operational success.

Flexibility

Among many larger lessons, the recent pandemic demonstrated that businesses need to be incredibly flexible to survive and adjust to the market. A big piece of that flexibility is the underlying software that businesses rely on. A client that needs a new feature to quickly pivot cannot wait until release 2026.H2.12—they need that feature as quickly as possible. Advantage’s development methodology allows for this incredibly flexible approach to getting world-class software when it is most needed.

Data Ownership

The need for data ownership is accelerating at an incredibly fast pace due to government laws, consumer privacy concerns, and first-party data analytics. The Advantage platform grants 100% of the data ownership to our clients. The AdvantageCS staff can only access that data if the client provides access. Compare that to traditional SaaS applications where the data storage is often obscured in cloud data repositories where companies are given access to the data, but do not truly own the data and associated infrastructure. 

SaaS-ish

Earlier, I stated that we have not fully adopted SaaS. So, what do we offer? We tend to think the key component of SaaS is a common application that all clients are on (i.e., same release pushed to all client instances). Beyond the common application, we offer many SaaS-like options to our diverse set of clients.

  • Access to monthly feature deployments. We publish monthly feature deployment packages, along with release notes, that clients can install on their own when it is convenient for their operation. The deployment packages are cumulative, so if clients want to skip a month or two then there is no risk of missing features once a package is deployed.

  • Access to daily issue resolution deployments. We publish daily issue resolution deployment packages that clients can install on their own when it is convenient for their operation.

  • See a feature, get a feature. Clients may request a specific feature to enhance the software or may see one in our release notes that is of interest. Instead of going through an entire upgrade project or waiting for the future release it is included in, clients can receive that feature at their release once development is complete.

  • Impact analysis. With each feature release, we publish an impact analysis so clients can assess which integrations may be impacted by any schema changes (database, API, or otherwise).

  • Hosting. For many clients, hosting their own infrastructure (either on-premise or in the cloud) is no longer viable. To support these situations, we can host clients’ Advantage installation in our certified Microsoft Azure environment. We can offer services beyond the hosting as well, from high availability to Advantage system administration.

  • Flexible Licenses. It is often assumed that non-SaaS companies require a large license fee upfront to the software and that only with the SaaS model is the monthly subscription fee an option. That is likely just a convention of how SaaS evolved because we offer monthly license fees as well.

As you can see, there is more to the SaaS picture than what is trendy or good for the software vendor. Here at AdvantageCS, our primary goal is to find the right methodology that satisfies our internal objectives while also serving our clients. We will continue to grow and evolve with the marketplace as it aligns with our clients and the overall market.


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