SaaS or not : optimal versioning strategy of releasing enterprise software

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

2 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-621
Journal / PublicationIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number3
Online published25 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


Purpose - With the rapid development of cloud computing, most software firms face the significant choice of whether they should change the versioning strategy of enterprise software from releasing the on-premise version to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) version. Data being generated and hosted on SaaS vendors' servers brings multiple effects. It enables customers to enjoy the flexibility of accessing data and using the software remotely, named the “portability” effect. However, on the other hand, the cumulative data resources on the cloud also provide a clear target for external attacks, leading to the concern of information security. Considering these, the authors hope to offer insights for software firms by exploring the strategy selection problem. 
Design/methodology/approach - Taking the portability effect and security risks of the SaaS licensing model into account, the authors develop a two-period model to figure out the market segmentation and identify the feasible conditions for employing three alternative strategies. Comparative statics analyses are conducted to explore the influencing mechanism of exogenous factors on strategy selection. The authors also discuss the strategy selection in the presence of the network effect and the security loss faced by users of on-premise software. 
Findings - One significant finding is that the on-premise strategy can be excluded when the potential loss from security risks is small. Under this circumstance, the dual version strategy is optimal provided that the increase of customer valuation caused by portability effect is below a threshold. Otherwise, the SaaS strategy generates the highest profit. When the potential loss from security risks turns large, the on-premise strategy, the dual version strategy and the SaaS strategy are the optimal options in order as the portability effect on customer valuation gets stronger. 
Originality/value - Previous literature has insufficiently addressed the versioning issue of enterprise software. In this paper, the distinctive features of the SaaS model are considered, and differentiated results compared with previous work are obtained. The research results provide guidelines for software firms in deciding their product releases in the future.

Research Area(s)

  • Enterprise software, Portability, SaaS, Security risk, Versioning strategy