SaaS Digital Signage For £0.62p Per Day

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Signagelive are doing a good job at the moment in beating the drum about how quickly customers can be up and running after having signed up with them (10 minutes they say) and how cheaply they can do it for (seemingly as low as £0.62 pence per day).

This is really clever marketing (something that Jason Cremins and his team seem quite good at) BUT having played with signagelive very recently for one of our customers (whom we are helping manage some content demos) we can certainly testify that this is not just marketing speak – we very quickly got systems up and running on standard windows platforms.

The 62 pence per day figure is based on signagelive suggested end-user pricing for 10 x 3 year licences and excludes VAT (that’s about a price in Euro of 72 cents per day and a price in USD of 89 cents per day) BUT again is very believable and very achievable – that’s just under UK PDS 20 a month and not far off the 20 – 25 we think is (or should be) the industry norm for a well managed and resilient SaaS offering.

Like BroadSign, signagelive were one of the very first digital signage companies to hoist their flag above the SaaS camp – both companies should be credited for doing so AND for building their whole businesses around the model – especially as now it seems, the term ‘SaaS’ has quite simply become a check box item in a press release (and many of those who claim it have little right to do so).

Take Scala’s announcement of the horribly named / play on words ‘Scala as a Service’ just before ISE, Amsterdam, back in January 2009. At the time all that Scala could say in their press release was…

Scala will also be launching its new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering branded Scala as a Service. This online service allows access to Scala cutting-edge software and Scala’s extensive experience in digital signage project planning and implementation for a subscription fee. Scala as a Service frees end users and partners from the worries of software installation and server hardware. It is a simple way to get started with digital signage and, on the basis of Scala’s extensive SaaS infrastructure, can support medium to large networks as well.

What exactly, pray tell, did Scala do to re-engineer their software systems to suddenly make it SaaS aware?

Ken Goldberg, CEO, Real Digital Media, on his own blog has written rather eloquently about the SaaS model, we quote…

Of all the drivers of the SaaS model, perhaps the key one for digital signage networks is the hesitance on the part of corporate buyers to invest in the resources, equipment and specialized skill sets to deploy and manage a network. For many entrepreneurial enterprises, the hesitance is replaced by financial inability. The SaaS model lends itself quite readily to meeting the scaling demands of each, allowing those interested in digital signage to test the concept while focusing investment on execution rather than backend infrastructure. It has always been our view to enable customers to grow into an enterprise model, rather than burden them with one from the outset.

As you will see if you read Ken’s blog – he thinks that STRATACACHE”s November 2008 announcement that ActiVia for Media (STRATACACHE’s digital signage solution) would be available as a comprehensive Software-as a Service offering was ‘Better Late Than Never’ though our understanding was that STRATACACHE must have been running SaaS for a while – after all, their whole business is predicated on server farms and data centres and we believe the announcement was more a public statement that they were going after BroadSign’s business than anything else.

Louie Hollmeyer, STRATACACHE VP of Marketing even said in the press release, quote “We are launching this service to fill the void that will be left by several current digital signage SaaS offerings leaving the marketplace.” !!!

ActiVia for Media is described as a ‘highly optimized, web-accessible solution’, if you couple that with STRATACACHE’s strength in content delivery you have exactly the sort of technology that you need for a SaaS offering.

It’s important to compare that sort of heritage (and to be fair there are many other properly termed SaaS solutions that we admire, like Adflow Networks for example) with ‘Scala as a Service’ and many other SaaS wannabees.

As the signagelive marketing says “In today’s economic climate, why spend your valuable cash reserves or commit to loans to purchase thousands of pounds worth of hardware, software and communications before you even start to install a single screen?”

Renting software or indeed buying software (take for example how successful Danoo and Captivate Network have been rolling their own) is not perfect for everyone but as a general rule of thumb the adage ”Why BUILD when you can BUY, why buy when you can RENT’ still makes a lot of sense.

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