I attended the Software 2008 Conference last week in Las Vegas.  Overall it was a good conference, but not as strong as Software 2007.  Merging it with Interop took away from the “thought leadership” agenda to facilitate more of a “buyer meet seller” agenda.  It was still valuable, but there were a few presentations where the speaker gave their view on the industry, and then jumped into “let me tell you about our latest product” mode.

That being said, the conference taught me some new things and reinforced others.  Major themes:

SaaS:  Lots of energy around delivering applications as a service.  Many small ISVs are going pure SaaS.  Practically all the big ISVs are supporting both SaaS and on-premise software.  Microsoft calls this Software + Services.  Oracle calls it a hybrid approach.  SaaS-related offerings expected to hit ~$10-15B within five years (~5% of the total software market).

Virtualization:  Everyone widely recognized the value of server consolidation through virtualization, which is especially important if the ISV hosts their SaaS solution (to increase your server utilization).

Open Source:  I attended a session led by Dan Kohn of the Linux Foundation.  While I disagreed with some of the comments Dan made, he did a great job explaining the Open Source landscape.   Two interesting points he raised:

1) Within each software category, there’s typically 1-2 Open Source apps that get all the developer attention.  The rest are rarely used.

2) Licensing matters.  Companies that make even minor modifications to the common Open Source licensing agreements limit the number of developers willing to participate.  If you want to commercialize your software, get a lawyer.

Altogether, it was a valuable conference.  It is my hope for Software 2009, that they separate it from Interop, and keep it true to the thought leadership agenda of previous years.

All the best,

Dan Lohmeyer, ISV Strategy