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SaaS or Stand-Alone?


cmgmyr
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Hey Everyone,

It's been a long time that I haven't been on here but it's good to be back. It looks like things have been changing a lot!

 

I've been working on a new application that I will be offering to my clients/possible clients. For all intensive purposes it's a website builder with a lot of options in different price plans per month. I've built this in the CodeIgniter framework and with programming that has been tested on a number of other sites for the past 2 years...so it's pretty solid.

 

My initial idea was to have one website controlling all of the other ones and set up sub-domains for users that they can set up CNAME's to for their domain, this way their clients/customers don't know they they are using my site. The idea is to be able to push out updates, new features, and bug fixes regularly. This would obviously lean toward the SaaS option.

 

My second idea is to just take this software and install it for each domain. This would be a little easier at the moment and would take less time since I have most of this already done. The problem would be with the future updates. If I have one site it's not too bad to update, 10 sites would be a pain, 100 sites would take forever.

 

Since I already have a few businesses "signed up" for this new service I would like to get it up and running as soon as possible for them, but I want to minimize the amount of time I would have to put into each one in the future. I'm still leaning toward the SaaS option but this means that I have to add in a lot more programming/logic initially before anyone can start using it.

 

Has anyone done anything like this before? Any advice or opinions about each option? Any insight or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks!

-Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the feedback, that's what I ended up going with. I haven't gotten through all of the details yet but it's going well so far.

 

Also, to take it a step further, once I'm finished with the programming I'm going to duplicate it, take out all of the SaaS features so it's a "one company" site, and use that as a base for my custom sites if someone wants some additional features. That will cut down about 80% of my time for my custom stuff, which is huge. So just like you said "money in the bank"!

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Thanks for the feedback, that's what I ended up going with. I haven't gotten through all of the details yet but it's going well so far.

 

Also, to take it a step further, once I'm finished with the programming I'm going to duplicate it, take out all of the SaaS features so it's a "one company" site, and use that as a base for my custom sites if someone wants some additional features. That will cut down about 80% of my time for my custom stuff, which is huge. So just like you said "money in the bank"!

 

Congrats on the progress.  Do you have a website where I could check out the yet-to-be-named service you're offering?

 

Two Cents: Imo there's no reason, in almost any situation, to not offer something via SaaS.  There internet isn't going to shrink anytime soon, lol.

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No, unfortunately I don't have anything up live yet. I'm hoping to get the "main" company site up sometime this week. I will update this post again once it's up and running though.

 

Thanks for your 2 cents. You are half right about that (IMO). There are a lot of clients/companies that want specialized features that others might not want, or would be hard to develop SaaS wise. If you are talking about e-commerce, some just have straight forward pricing, others have crazy price structures that need extra attention. For the purposes of this project I'm just going to offer very straight forward pricing and shipping options in order to keep the programming as simple as possible and to keep my development time to a minimum. In the future I can adjust it as I get more feedback about the system, I'm sure I could develop other module/plugins for these specific features (similar to magento). BUT, my business "plan", if you will, is similar to 37 signals which is keep it simple and easy so anyone can use your product. Magento is a great program but definitely bloated and very hard for un-tech savvy people to use right out of the box.

 

I have a few people signed up for this service right now so I want to get it up and running asap, then I can develop more for it as it becomes larger (and I start making some $$$).

 

I hope all of that made sense :)

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and use that as a base for my custom sites if someone wants some additional features.

 

Why would you do that? CI is modular enough to add these features for all clients but restrict them to those who do not pay for them. This also means that whenever a client wants a new feature added it can be enabled upon payment where-as the module becomes available only when you uploaded the necessary files and made the necessary modifications.

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I thought about your comment some more and yes, you are right. Right now it just comes down to a few things:

 

money - why not get $3-$5K for a site plus future upgrades as opposed to $50-$100/mo?

time - I only have so much time do do the development on the custom sites and the SaaS sites, to combine them I would need more time. I still need to stay on track with deadlines, so it's easier to keep them separate.

 

So again, yes you are right about moving everything over to the SaaS system and I probably will be doing that in the not too far off future, right now it just doesn't make sense to.

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