Ever felt a little aged in some part of your life?  As I have previously mentioned and got comfortable with a while back, I am right there with Velociraptor and Diplodocus in the Jurassic Period.

velociraptorAnd yes, I pulled out some lesser known species to show that I know more dinosaur terms than most people, because like a lot of parents with young children, I have been reading about them during bedtime stories for years now.  “So I have that going for me, which is nice.” (Bill Murray – name the movie).

For hours or sometimes days I manage to forget that I am “middle-aged” (a kind term for everyone who refuses to state just how long ago they passed their 40th year here on earth).  Of course, my kids remind me continuously, but I have grown used to that.  But there is one place where reality hits me like a cold slap of aftershave.  The IMA.  You see, my wife works at the University of Washington.  As anyone here in Seattle will tell you, the best single fringe benefit of “the U” is the family membership to work out at the Intramural Activities facility (IMA). The weight room is twice the size of the largest I have ever seen.  There is a cardio room of at last 20,000 square feet with windows on the 3 sides.  Just driving by makes me feel fit.

Getting cold in the weight room

When I walk into the IMA, which is best case once a week with my schedule, I’m usually in a pretty good mood.  I have time to get a workout in, and when I get there I feel a little younger remembering back to when I was in college.  Then I get to the weight room.  Quickly I realize that in actuality I resemble something akin to a walking carcass to everyone else there, all of whom are in their teens or early 20s.  Anyone that can be bothered to make eye contact with me is giving me a facial expression that is saying something along the lines of “Sup old man?” or “Don’t tell me you are going to clog up a bench press.”

Of course I try to make little superficial adjustments.  Botox is a little too 1990s.  Instead, I kid myself that my UnderArmor shirts, which I switched to a few years ago, shave off a couple of years.  Ever since my days as a sailor, I have worn some ship’s baseball cap for a workout.  Of course when I was younger and cooler, I wore it backwards.  About 5 years ago, I realized that instead of shaving any years off my persona, it was simply exposing a bare forehead closing in on lunarscape proportions.  So now I wear it straight forward and “locked up” as we used to say back in the day.  And when I walk into the IMA, I feel that little chill that T-Rex first felt, in the middle of nibbling on a drumstick the size of a telephone pole, after the meteor hit earth and the resulting dust clouds began to block out the sun’s warm rays.

Shedding OpEx and age with Software-as-a-Service

That’s the bad news.  But the good news is that when I walk into the office in the morning, I lose a solid 20 years.  You see, here at work I’m watching the inevitable extinction of another era and another business model, that of enterprise / shrink-wrapped software.  Why?  Because Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) can deliver a more reliable, more scalable, more up-to-date product than buying software and having it installed.  Oh, I forgot this little gem.  SaaS can be provided at AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE LESS in cost to your business.  Yes, you read it correctly, ten times less.

Sure, we’re a software company, so we have a development & QA staff and an array of parallel processed, redundant servers over at a bullet-proof data center.  But I’m not talking about those costs, because those are R&D costs, just like if we had a manufacturing plant.  Instead, what is an apples to apples comparison with any company or P&L out there is our business infrastructure.

Want to know the cost of the business-IT infrastructure to run our administrative & finance teams (G&A), sales & marketing teams, plus customer support?  Get ready to flip your hat around and peel a generation off your operation.
•    Our financial package is Quickbooks Online from Intuit.  Cost: $54 per month.
•    We share all our files and manage our tasks via Smartsheet.  Cost:  Less than $100 per month.
•    Our sales, support and contact management is brought to us for a couple hundred bucks a month all in from Salesforce.com.
•    Email?  We all use Gmail from Google here.  Cost: free.

It’s all SaaS, all hosted software.  Our team can access any of those applications anywhere 24×7 from a browser.  Setup costs, if there were any, were less than a month of service in all cases.  There were no big upfront costs or cash hits.  Rather, everything is a monthly expense item.  We have some part-time IT help because we don’t have to run a bunch of internal file servers or Exchange Server or whatever.  We let our SaaS vendors above worry about the hardware and the backups and the redundancy.  Including T-1 and phones, we still pay maybe 15% of what I paid at LastCo to run a business-IT infrastructure for 50 people.

If you make a change, bring Kleenex

Those numbers above are “bring tears to a controllers’ eyes” type line items.  If you are not sitting up in your chair right now considering an 80% reduction per month of IT infrastructure costs and potentially not needing an IT headcount for your department or small business, then luckily you weren’t running a P&L five or ten years ago.  Because back then you could not have touched this type of business and software infrastructure at these price points without big upfront commitments.

I will tell you more later.  But yeah, I’m lot younger at the office, both mentally and more importantly when I review our operating expenses each month.  Let’s just say that being warm-blooded and not laying eggs feels pretty good.  Especially compared to chewing on trees and shivering a little more violently every day as the temperature continues to drop.

–Rob E