Project: Customising Application Services by Third parties

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a new software delivery model that revolutionises the way in which software is being designed, developed and consumed. For decades, companies had no choice but to run their business software on their own infrastructure. The core idea in SaaS is that applications are hosted remotely and made available to customers over a network (typically the Internet). An SaaS offering has two important characteristics that set it apart from competion: (i) business model: an end-user does not pay for owning the software but only for using it and (ii) technical infrastructure: a SaaS provider employs a single-instance, multi-tenant architecture, meaning that multiple customers (tenants) are being served by the same software instance with a virtually separate data space (in contrast to the single-instance, single-tenant model that is employed in ASP offerings). The resulting model brings important benefits for service providers and service consumers alike, as it offers simpler pricing and lower infrastructure costs for service consumers, while it increases revenue channels for software vendors acting as SaaS providers._x000D__x000D_Nevertheless, an important feature that is currently lacking from SaaS offerings is the ability to offer highly specialised and customised solutions that can meet the needs of niche markets. Today's SaaS offerings are closed for customisation and follow the one-size-fits-all approach, offering nothing but some limited degree of configurability to end-users. This has a negative impact on all different stakeholders in the business software application market: (i) Service consumers, who cannot benefit from highly customised solutions, (ii) SaaS providers, who cannot benefit from establishing business Pships with third-party actors such as integrators and developers of customised solutions, (iii) third-party actors who have a limited role in SaaS settings and thus reduced revenues from SaaS sales and integration services._x000D__x000D_The success of SaaS in Europe will depend on the degree to which customisability and extensibility is introduced in SaaS offerings by allowing third-party actors to integrate their own application code and create service add-ons addressing specialised business needs. The CO challenge to be addressed is the development of SaaS platforms that allows for full customisation and extensibility without compromising reliability and security. The latter is of vital importance, since the adoption of SaaS by an end-user implies surrendering control over important business data to the SaaS provider who must be entrusted with safekeeping them. The SaaS platform must provide mechanisms to guarantee that ill-performing customisations by third-parties will not inflict any damage to the data of other end-users. The aim of CAST is to provide a customisation framework consisting of a reference architecture, methodological support, and a suite of tools supporting the provision of highly customisable SaaS offerings. The SaaS platform that will result from the project should be launched into the market by the beginning of 2011. _x000D__x000D_The market-driven and application-oriented CAST proposal has been initiated by three R&D-performing SMEs and one non-profit research centre that are based in two different EUROSTARS member countries. Being the leading provider of CRM solutions for small and medium sized enterprises in Germany, CAS Software AG is currently developing a SaaS CRM solution that will be launched to the German market in spring 2008. The Greek small-sized enterprise New Emphasis Ltd as well as the German medium-sized company Kölmel Computer GmbH are well established CAS business Ps and experienced integrators of CAS Software solutions. The industrial Ps of the CAST consortium have inherently different but complementary objectives within the value chain of software application provision, and the South-East European Research Centre (SEERC), which is as an international, non-profit research centre with a proven track record in the doCO of service oriented software engineering, completes this well-balanced consortium. _x000D__x000D__x000D__x000D_

Acronym CAST (Reference Number: 4373)
Duration 01/03/2009 - 01/07/2011
Project Topic CAST will provide a innovative, market driven solution in order to enable European software integrators to safely customise software application that are offered to SMEs via the Internet as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The aim of the CAST project was to develop a cloud application platform (PaaS) that not only supports the development and deployment of on-demand (SaaS) enterprise software applications, but does so in a way that facilitates the creation of a value network and ecosystem around the platform. Instrumental in achieving such an effect was to define a model for the development and deployment of enterprise applications which encourages collaboration and reuse of resources, as well as to provide means for governing application artefacts as well as the underlying CAST platform preventing threats to its stability and performance. _x000D__x000D_The CAST platform gives developers flexibility by allowing them to choose among three alternative models of developing applications: (i) by configuration only, (ii) by configuration plus coding of client-side components in a Rich Internet Application framework, and (iii) by any of the above plus coding of server-side components in J2EE. Independently of the chosen model of development, i.e. orthogonally to those three options, the CAST platform is also allowing developers to integrate their applications with externally hosted Web services (SOAP or REST)._x000D__x000D_The CAST platform is oriented towards fostering the emergence of an ecosystem of developers and applications around the PaaS, and encouraging the creation of positive network effects. To promote this objective, the platform allows developers to create solutions by combining reusable prefabricated components (apps) offered not only by the platform provider (as usually happens in other PaaS), but by third parties as well._x000D__x000D_Enabling developers to build applications this way—i.e. by mixing and matching software components that are provided by third parties within an ecosystem, is an increasing trend in the space of cloud application platforms. The development of a conceptual framework and tools allowing for the developing approaches mentioned above were the CO result of the project. _x000D_
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
4 CAS Software AG Business Unit CRM Products Coordinator Germany
4 Kölmel Computer GmbH Partner Germany
4 South East European Research Centre Partner Greece
4 New Emphasis Ltd Partner Greece