Software-as-a-Service: A Novelty for Water Utilities
Many proponents of SaaS argue that it is a powerful paradigm for data analytics and for enterprises, especially those with complex processes and large data sets, such as utilities. This is true in theory, but we wanted to test this in practice. Most utilities are not past users of any cloud based services or of software provided under a SaaS business model. In fact, when selling the TaKaDu solution, we encounter utilities who have never considered using a SaaS product before. Spain’s Udal Sareak from Bilbao is one of them.
We recently had a brief phone interview with Mr. Koldo Urkullu, General Manager of Udal Sareak, the Bilbao Water Consortium responsible for managing the water distribution network of 60 municipalities and localities in the Bilbao area. Udal Sareak has just begun using TaKaDu’s water network monitoring solution for monitoring its 2,300 Km long network. The service went live after a relatively short setup process, with no upfront capital expenditures.
When he first heard of TaKaDu’s solution, Mr Urkullu found the value proposition compelling. But he didn’t like the idea of using SaaS in his utility, nor the idea of sending utility data to the cloud. He was used to owning (licensing) the software the utility was using and have it installed and operated at their premises.
“We had never deployed a SaaS solution in the utility” he says. “I found the idea very strange. I was used to buying a software license and to paying maintenance, even to doing internal development and training. The idea that we would not own the software seemed to imply that we would not be able to control the software and that it will be kept out of our hands”.
Now, after the rapid deployment of TaKaDu, he feels differently:
“SaaS has very good sides that I was not aware of, on the business and technical side.. The software is always updated with the latest releases, I don’t have to invest capital up front on servers and licenses, I don’t need to worry about keeping my systems operational 24/7 with backups and UPS, and more”.
He also mentions the economic benefits of SaaS:
“There are fewer costs. No costs to hire a developer, no requirements to buy hardware for the software, no training, no IT. It is definitely cheaper in the long run and we don’t have to worry about the IT aspect of the system from an organizational point of view. We just use the service”.
He mentions the freedom inherent in the SaaS model:
“We can try out the software product and not pay for a full license for the whole term. This gives us the freedom to really check the product with limited exposure.”
Given his positive experience with SaaS, when recently an operations optimization vendor came to his offices, offering delivery as a Software-as-a-Service, Mr. Urkullu was immediately willing to try the system out.
After all, it was SaaS.