Is Locally Run Software Doomed to Extinction?

Your Rural Business Development Partner | Community Futures West Yellowhead

The trend of converting from locally run software to software-as-a-service (SaaS) Have you noticed how hard it is getting to find certain types of locally run software? For example, Microsoft’s popular office suite is now available only through an online subscription model. Likewise, Google’s suite of office productivity tools has never been available as locally run software. It has always been offered in the cloudbegan in earnest with the introduction of cloud computing in the late 1990s. More than 20 years later, the move to SaaS is only accelerating. It is enough to make one wonder if locally run software is doomed to extinction.

  • Commercial and Consumer Software

Both commercial and consumer software is being taken into the cloud. Google’s Chrome OS is a perfect example on the consumer side. On the commercial side, there are very few industries that have not been impacted by the move to SaaS. Take imports and exports. The nature of global trade has forced trade service software into the cloud.

Trade service software is on the list of products and services offered by Ohio-based Vigilant Global Trade Services. They can work with clients to develop customized software solutions through partnerships with technology providers.

Vigilant can offer trade service software based on the SaaS model. But they can also help custom design trade service solutions their clients ultimately end up buying and hosting locally. Is one option better than the other? Not really. What constitutes the right choice depends on a customer’s individual needs.

  • The Ping-Pong Effect

There is an interesting phenomena in the technology world known as the ‘ping-pong effect’. It occurs when an organization adopts a particular technology only to discover that it doesn’t entirely meet their needs. They turn around and adopt something else, then something else, never really settling on the best possible solution.

The ping-pong effect can be applied on a much larger scale. It certainly applies to the question of locally run software vs. cloud software and SaaS.

Long before the cloud existed, networked software ran on huge mainframes accessed by desktop terminals. Truth be told, the cloud is simply a logical extension of the old mainframe model. But in between mainframes and the cloud, locally run software ruled the day.

The history of mainframes and the cloud clearly demonstrates the ping-pong effect. Mainframes were replaced by desktop PCs running individual copies of software when they became too impractical to maintain. Locally run software dominated for almost two decades before the birth of the cloud.

With the cloud’s maturity, the ping-pong ball was hit back across the table. Cloud computing gave way to SaaS as yet another option for obtaining and hosting software. The question is whether or not the ball will remain on the cloud’s side of the table forever.

  • Locally Run Has Its Place

With all of the alleged benefits of cloud computing and SaaS, it is kind of fascinating that locally run software has not already been made extinct. Its insistence on holding out suggests that it still has a place at both the corporate and consumer levels.

A major advantage of locally run software is security. Organizations worried about letting sensitive data leak into the cyber sphere may opt for the local model so as to avoid any and all security breaches. Similarly, there are individual consumers who want nothing to do with the cloud and subscription-based software. They prefer desktop and laptop PCs running their own applications.

Is locally run software doomed to extinction? Right now, it doesn’t appear that way. If it comes, any such extinction is still many years away.