Software-as-a-Service Blog

Beyond Google

by BrianHeM10BrianHeM10 (01 Dec 2008 02:21; last edited on 01 Dec 2008 03:47)

Since the beginning of this decade, Google's presence in our daily lives has quickly grown from a cool new website to part of our daily routine. Google is synonymous with searching and people go to Google to find something general or IMDB to find information about anything movie/TV related. But, there has to be other options out there, right? Indeed, there are - very small search engines that make Live, Yahoo, and Altavista seem as large as galaxies.

Google may be one of the easiest to use and is generally pretty reliable, but these niche search engines each seem to provide a unique feature that makes it worth using. It is very similar to Starbucks vs the local coffee shops. Every Starbucks is the same - same Fritalian-named drinks, same flavors, same tastes. Across the street is that little coffee shop that only exists in that one location. Although Starbucks is pretty good, it's blandness in variety helps accentuate the unique flavors and menu choices at that little coffee shop. Even the most avid technologists will continue to use Google - it's too good not too. But, Google's simplicity makes visiting these smaller sites exciting, interesting, and useful.

Let's check some out.


SearchMe is a visual search engine where the results displayed are actually images of the website (reminds me a lot of Windows Vista AERO 3D Tabs). My first query on Live Mesh did not work out very well - there were a lot of results that were not too relevant and the visual search tool was tough to understand (need some higher-resolution images).

On the flip side, I had great success when searching for Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing. Sites I was told to look at included Enomaly's info on EC2, ODE's original news release about EC2, and Web Strategist's guide to EC2.

The information from SearchMe was pretty good, but the interface is gimmicky. It forces to click on links and it opens them in news windows, which is pretty annoying. SearchMe is a great example of something unique that is fun to visit but does not add value or efficiency.


Cognition is a Wikipedia search tool that helps you answer specific questions (instead of trying to find a specific page). It displays results from a variety of pages, not just one. My best query was What is SalesForce AppExchange?". When you click on a result, it takes you to the Wikipedia page and provides color-coded highlights related to your query. Awesome stuff!


Cuil claims to be the world's biggest search engine and specializes in ranking pages based on their precision instead of popularity. I am not really sure how Cuil could have a database three times as large as Google's, but I guess I will take their word for it. When you first get to Cuil, it looks like a very simple search engine based on its relatively basic front page. After you click 'Search', that feelings of simplicity quickly disappears.

The results page is far from ordinary. Besides the fact it displays results very elegantly and the information is relevant and useful, the interface is extremely smooth (speedy & agile). I really liked how it groups alternative things you can search for (Google Base, Google Trends, Google Video) - but it searches for them within the original results. I was very impressed with how the "exploration" categories were not just related to the original search term, but also accurate macro-categories (Web 2.0, Silicon Valley, Search Engines).


SiloBreaker is a search engine that aggregates all sorts of multi-media results. The idea behind it is pretty cool, but I think the idea is a little too broad. The search result pages are extremely overwhelming and unfortunately the content is not very precise. For example, my query on Live Skydrive produced just about nothing about the topic. I got a very interesting link about Kumo (the rumored-but-really-official new name for Microsoft's Live Search) that sent me to a result page dedicated to the topic, search industry, and trends. In summary, the site is cool to try out, but nowhere near as "usable on a daily basis" as Cuil & Cognition.


Kosmix is another "other search engine" that displays results very similar to SiloBreaker. However, Kosmix seems to mix-in some elements of Mahalo into is result pages. Results are split into six categories: Basic Resources, People & Community, Shopping, Visual, News & Blogs, and Conversations. There is a lot to cover in one query, so I'll focus just on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Basic Resources - The Basic Resources section is split into three sub-areas: search engines, profiles, and references. Search engines are basic Google results, profiles uses Crunchbase data, and references pulls information from Wikipedia.

People & Community - The "social networks" element of Kosmix seems to be confusing. For this particular page, it displays book results about MS CRM. I think it's from - which looks like a social networking reading place.

Shopping -Displays products (in this case, software and books) related to the query.

Visual -The Visual results need to be seen for one's self. The fact that it displays documents (PDFs, DOCs, and XLSs) about the topic is really cool.

News & Blogs - Uses articles from Associated Content (SalesForce & Microsoft's War of Words, blog posts from BlogCatalog (Naviants CRM Blog, and blog comments from Backtrack (Facebook CRM?.

Conversations - I've never seen a search engine use Yahoo Answers, so this was pretty unique. The results were not that relevant. I liked the Forum posts from OMGLIGI; but, forum post searches are pretty strange because the vast bulk of them are "in the deep web". Got a good post about SAP CRM vs MS CRM.

In a nutshell, one search from Kosmix can take about an hour to really take advantage of. I spent about 40 minutes browsing this one query which is a testament to Kosmix' depth, uniqueness, and preciseness. It's much more helpful for research about a topic than a random search though. Great tool.


One of the reasons you're at this site is to discover a vast array of ways to find and monitor information on the web. Hopefully the descriptions (and usefulness) of these five "alternative" search tools makes it very clear that to search effectively, you must go "beyond Google".

The SaaS Search Engine

by BrianHeM10BrianHeM10 (05 Nov 2008 02:24; last edited on 10 Nov 2008 03:58)

Have you ever felt Google was too broad a tool to use? Did receiving 1,200,000 results about a topic seem daunting to browse? That is the solution that custom search engines bring! Essentially, the SaaS Search Engine was created to focus on retrieving information about SaaS topics from websites and news sites related to the industry. That way, all the results you receive are relevant and come from similar sources. The SaaS Search Engine was built using Google Custom Search Engine - a tool that lets you wittle down Google's massive index of websites into whatever you like. I am going to briefly mention how the search engine was made and then look at how useful the search results of the Search Engine are.

Building the SaaS Search Engine

  • Basics
    • Name
    • Description
    • Keywords (Default Search Queries)
  • Sites (Content to Search)
  • Look and Feel
  • Make Money (Add AdWords)

The sites used to create the SaaS Search Engine were:

  • - Frequently updated blog on SaaS applications
  • - Ditto
  • - Comprehensive technology news sites
  • - Sister site to CNet
  • - Part of the SaaS 4
  • - Part of the SaaS 4
  • Part of the SaaS 4
  • - News site dedicated to watching Google
  • - News site dedicated to watching Microsoft

How Useful is the SaaS Search Engine

It is very difficult to classify what is “useful” or what is not. Since the sites/content was chosen by me, it is pretty obvious that at least the overwhelming majority of the search results will be relevant. However, I will try to enter in some different queries and go through what the SaaS Search Engine returns.

Cloud Computing

Image Search

Live Mesh

Google Apps

Comments: The results I received when entering these queries were extremely satisfying. As time goes on and more sites are added to the SaaS Search Engine, this can become an extremely valuable tool to find new information about the SaaS industry. My only complaint is that Google's custom search engine software only relates to web search (not Blog, Image, News, etc).

Using the "Deep Web" To Find SaaS Industry Statistics

by BrianHeM10BrianHeM10 (13 Oct 2008 18:06; last edited on 14 Oct 2008 03:47)


The "Deep Web" is the enormous amount of information that is hidden from normal search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Live, and AltaVista. Essentially, the information within the Deep Web are articles and research reports that exist within databases or password-protected websites. As a result, this high-quality information requires more effort to locate; yet, there are a few tools that can be used to dive into the Deep Web.

There are essentially two different ways to find information in the Deep Web: use a web tool that indexes information from databases or go straight to the primary source of articles. I will be comparing the information I find using Google Scholar, Turbo10, and BNet (three web tools) versus what I find using Gartner and Forrester - two IT research firms with subscription based access. The topic for this test is SaaS Growth / SaaS Adoption Rates.

SaaS Adoption Rates

As one of the fastest growing industries in the world, it would make sense to be interested in just how fast (or how much of) the world is adopting SaaS either as a vendor or a consumer.

Google Scholar

Query - (intitle:"software as a service" growth) or (intitle:"software as a service" adoption)

Google Scholar didn't turn out so well and I am hoping this isn't the case for my next two searches. The first ten results did not yield anything. Zilch. I found some really good information on How SaaS is Delivered, The User Experience of SaaS Apps, and Pricing Models for SaaS. But nothing on what I was looking for.

Score: 0/10


Queries - SaaS Adoption, SaaS Growth

First, it was very ironic that the first result I found was actually a Gartner report on SaaS posted for public view on The information was pretty helpful, so Turbo10 does get some credit for that. Some key findings from this report:

  • SaaS growth expected to be 22.1% per year through 2011
  • Adoption currently varies from 1% to 75% depending on the segment (!)
  • Projected revenue for content, communications, and collaboration software is $2.1B in 2011, higher than CRM and ERP (surprising)
  • Report provides an extremely valuable list of major players in each major category and sub-categories of SaaS

Unfortunately, this was the only relevant result from Turbo10 (for both queries), but it was also the first result for both. Nevertheless, because of how informative the article is, Turbo10 gets a pretty good score.

Score: 6/10


BNet is a search engine that browses a library of business related journals and sites. It provides search results with both free and premium content.

Queries - software as a service growth, software as a service adoption, saas growth

I had really high hopes for BNet because my first few queries with the service produced some pretty interesting results. Unfortunately, the results fell short of my expectations. Both the first, second, and third queries yielded nothing on SaaS. Why?!

In reality, these results must be taken with a grain of salt. The information I was searching for really does not cater to what BNet provides. BNet focuses a lot more on strategy, management, and other "business operations" information. I spent some time looking through BNet's site (particular the Technology section of the Industry's area). Found some great information - for example, I found this article on Sequoia's overview of the current Venture Capital industry and how to move past the current economic issues. Earlier today I was forwarded the exact PowerPoint Sequoia developed yesterday that led to this article. This is certainly a testament to BNet's quick reaction time to new data.

My point: When using an online tool, make sure in advance it is meant to give you the information you're looking for before judging its results. Thus, BNet will not be scored because I made a poor decision to expect good results from it.


On to the first of two research services. I had never used Forrester (or Gartner) before, but do have experience with IDC so I am aware of the quality of information to expect. Also, I am very aware that both the research services know alot about SaaS; thus, my expectations were again fairly high. In Forrester, they were met and exceeded big time.

Query - "software as a service", "saas", "growth" OR "adoption"

Forrester lets you combine different keywords so my results incorporated any research that related to software-as-a-service or SaaS and had either growth or adoption as a keyword. The only report I found relevant was seventh down the list, which was a little concerning, but the content made up for this. The report was title SaaS Success Takes Careful Consideration, published on a few weeks ago. The key points were:

*HR apps, collaboration, and CRM are the most popular choices for SaaS
*Large enterprises are showing as healthy of an appetite for SaaS as SMBs
*Customers are embracing multiple SaaS solutions
*IT is increasingly at the forefront of SaaS deals

There are three interesting charts I want to share. These charts do a good job of presenting a general idea on SaaS's prenetration in the software industry (However, please look at the report if you can to learn more about what these charts really tell us). :


I really liked Forrester's user interface, browsing options, and of course, its data. However, I would have liked to see this report in at least the top 3 considering its relevance and would have liked to see more of the top 5 related to my topic - especially since I was searching based on keywords.

Score: 9/10


The first thing that caught my attention with Gartner is that there is actually a Software-as-a-Service sub-category deep within their Technology/Software research! That was awesome. I was able to search within this category and just looked for "market growth". The first result that came up was the report I mentioned earlier from Gartner and the second result was a Overview of SaaS that provided a absolute ton of information on SaaS background, current information, and future. The report links to a wealth of other Gartner articles that are relevant to SaaS (and very interesting). Unfortunately, the links are only available on the online version of the report from Gartner's website(title: "Essential SaaS Overview and Guide to SaaS Research").

As a search and information tool, Gartner is only so-so. The interface is a little finicky and the browsing experience is pretty tame. Yet, in regards to this particular test, Gartner dominated. It provided relevant, consistent information that was readily accessible and displayed appropriately. Thus:

Score: 10/10


One of the most interesting things I learned from this test (besides the truth of how much more effective it is to go to a primary source) is that I can create RSS Feeds from Gartner and Foresster to use for my research. Unfortunately, whoever wants to reed the information from these feeds must have access to these two sites. Other general comments:

  • Google should be ashamed of Google Scholar and stop using "Beta" products as an excuse for any deficiencies
  • Turbo10 needs to revamp their presentation and how results are displayed. It can be confusing or unclear as to what the result is about.
  • BNet is a great tool - if you're searching for information on how to run your business and business-related news
  • Forrester has a good user interface and extremely valuable, detailed information
  • Gartner has great information, especially for my topic, but could have a better user interface and browsing experience.

In conclusion, it is clear that finding research data from a primary source potentially is more successful than using a free "Deep Web" tool.

- Forrester and Gartner will definitely become (or already is) valuable resources for previous and new information on the SaaS industry.
- I will use BNet in the future for personal uses, but in relation to SaaS research, it is probably best to stay away.
- Turbo10 was successful, but I was not that impressed so most likely I will not use it again.
- Google Scholar - never…ever again.

SaaS Stocks Not Immune to Market Earthquake

by BrianHeM10BrianHeM10 (30 Sep 2008 06:27; last edited on 30 Sep 2008 15:21)



Recently, as I was browsing through Technorati and Bloglines to find new RSS feeds related to SaaS, I came across an extremely interesting (and uplifting) blog post about SaaS: A Recession Proof Sector of Technology.

If the U.S. heads into another recession, corporations likely will rein in information technology spending, and consequently, software companies will be hurt. But one class of software maker-Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS-managed to thrive during the 2000-2002 downturn and should continue to be recession proof.

The article was written in January of this year so at this time the market issues were still brewing underground but still visible in a lot of people's minds. Why would Software-as-a-Service be recession-proof? The post does not explicitly mention it, but here are three guesses:

  • SaaS revenue is recurring and not dependent on new sales
  • SaaS applications can become a vital part of a business that just cannot be "turned off"
  • SaaS innovations are reducing IT costs for companies and may be aided by a recession

At 12:54PM when I read this archived Forbes post, I was completely oblivious to what had happened with the stock market today (September 29th, informally referred to as Red Monday). Until about thirty minutes ago, I whole heartedly believed that the SaaS industry was made of "Chrome" and "Mesh" - inpenetrable and flexible. Apparently I (and Forbes) was sadly wrong.

(Note: If you're under a rock and do not know what is going on with the financial world, check out this blog post I found on Technorati on the Subprime Primer" with a SaaS spin. Just check it out for fun also.)

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Lead the SaaS Plunge

Bloglines and Technorati returned tons of results when searching for "Technology Stocks Fall". Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are at the centerfold of the technology world, so not explicitly searching for SaaS worked out fine in this case.

First, I found a good article about how Google, Microsoft, and Amazon tumbled today. The general downturn of the market will force IT spending down.

Investors sold tech on concerns that, barring a bailout for the financial sector, cutbacks in lending will cause companies to trim or delay orders on computers, software, networking gear, and other tech products.

Comment: A strong benefit of SaaS is cost savings for the IT buyer. Yet, I feel like this is a long-run scenario. If I am a small or medium business with 50 licenses of GenericCRM and it works fine, not great, but doable, then in an economic downturn I definitely do not and cannot want to switch to a SaaS version of Microsoft CRM until I have a decent cash flow.

SalesForce Hits 52 Week Low: The White Knight is Knocked Off His Horse

SalesForce is the White Knight of the SaaS industry. It's not the king, or the father (or grandfather), but the saving grace of the entire software sector. Why? Because SalesForce is an epicenter of SaaS vendors, revenue, and growth. Not a good sign when The White Knight Hits 52-Week Low (Thank you to Technorati for finding this).

SalesForce fell close to $6 and dropped to around $45.

SaaS Stocks Generally Underperforming in 2008

As bad as today was for the SaaS 20, the industry is generally just not doing so good this year. While looking at my Blogline feeds for SaaS, I noticed a recent post (from yesterday) titled Software as a Service: Painful 2008. According to this post, the SaaS stocks are down as a whole for the year and down 4.53% since last week. How much down for the year? A whopping 17%. Some lowlights: (SLRY), which specializes in compensation software, down nearly 65% this year
Omniture Inc. (OMTR), maker of online analytics software, down 38.93%
Taleo Corp. (TLEO), which specializes in on-demand HR software, down 35.36%
RightNow (RNOW), a SaaS CRM specialist, down nearly 23% (CRM), the poster child for SaaS, down nearly 20 percent
Kenexa Corp. (KNXA), an HR recruiting SaaS specialist, down 17.10%

Profits of SaaS companies are just not growing at the pace and consistency that Wall Street expects for technology's "up and coming" group. All I know is, I do not believe these stocks are recession-proof. Whoever wrote that article must have had too much coffee and confused with the date with January, 2000 when technology stocks were so amazing they would stay afloat by levitatation if the ground was removed beneath them.


It is a shame that SaaS stocks are not performing well, but it's all relative - if nobody is performing well, it's just about who is doing the least bad. Yet, the macro-picture is that SaaS is supposed to be one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Even data that has been released between January 17th and today supports that claim. If the fastest growing industry in the world is still not growing fast enough and sensitive to market shocks, then there is some serious problems occuring.

Summary of Research Methods

One goal of this blog post (besides disproving the January post on recession-immune SaaS) was to discover information via blog searching / blog tools. All of the information I found today was found and compiled on and Using these two tools together in a tandem is fantastic! Technorati is really helpful at finding new blog posts and RSS feeds to subscribe to while Bloglines helps you organize your feeds into categories and informs you when new posts were made.

Blogs posts in general are very useful when trying to find information on a topic but their only downside is a lot of blog posts are informal, subjective, and are not professionally written. Nevertheless, those attributes can lead to posts that otherwise would not appear in a newspaper or magazine because they may not be necessarily reporting on an story; rather, they are just talking about what they observe. Blog posts are typically part of a larger blog feed which is stored as an RSS Feed. RSS Feeds are .XML pages that store the crucial descriptive characteristics of a blog post. This information can then be put into an RSS Feeder that will automatically update itself with the latest posts.

BlogLines is an advanced RSS Feed reader in that it lets you organize, edit, and track the Feeds you are interested in and informs you of any new posts you have not read. I currently use BlogLines to track all the major blogs I read. The blogs I linked to in this post - Zoli's Blog, MSPMentor, Forbes, and BusinessWeek's Tech Blog - are all part of my BlogLines feeds. Check all of them out at my BlogRoll.

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