Hybrid SaaS?



  • I'm thinking about a solution where the customer would pay a monthly fee for a service.
    It includes hardware (on prem), software, some cloud services and whatever patching, backup etc that is needed. Basically everything that is needed for it to work.

    The customer will not own any of the hardware or software, just pay for the function it performs. There will be a setup fee. If the hardware breaks we will repair, upgrade or replace it at our discretion. As software versions becomes EOL or at our discretion, we will upgrade or replace. If the customer don't want the service anymore he can terminate the contract at any time and we will reclaim the hardware.

    We've never really done this type of deal before as we in the past would just do application development work that would run on the customers equipment, or equipment we would offer, on-prem or in the cloud. We want to move away from being hired guns and become more of a service provider - not an MSP for IT in general but for our own software.

    Any tips or tricks or things to think about when doing this type of deal with both hardware and software? Both from the technical or business side.

    And what would you call this type of arrangement - hybrid SaaS?



  • It's a mix of SaaS and HaaS. Really two separate things, just bundled. NTG started off doing this long ago. We made a SaaS product and we provided the on site hardware exactly as you describe.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    It's a mix of SaaS and HaaS. Really two separate things, just bundled. NTG started off doing this long ago. We made a SaaS product and we provided the on site hardware exactly as you describe.

    So SHaaS?



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    It's a mix of SaaS and HaaS. Really two separate things, just bundled. NTG started off doing this long ago. We made a SaaS product and we provided the on site hardware exactly as you describe.

    How did it work out for you? Do you still do offer HaaS when it's suitable?



  • @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    It's a mix of SaaS and HaaS. Really two separate things, just bundled. NTG started off doing this long ago. We made a SaaS product and we provided the on site hardware exactly as you describe.

    How did it work out for you? Do you still do offer HaaS when it's suitable?

    No, we phased it out about fifteen years ago.



  • With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.



  • @dafyre I understand your thinking but in this case it's not your average IT equipment but rather OT computing devices so they have to be on-prem. Similar to how you can put a PBX in the cloud but no the voip phone, because it has to be physically close to the person talking in it.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Through devices like USBAnywhere.



  • If you can get your customers to switch from a capital expenditure model to an operational one, great. MS is doing that with their O365 setup, trying to get customers away from on prem whenever possible. And ultimately MS is ending up with more money.

    I hear the excuses that it's possible to save money with SaaS, but I rarely actually see it costing less.



  • @Dashrender said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Through devices like USBAnywhere.

    RS232 serial, not USB serial.



  • @Dashrender said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    If you can get your customers to switch from a capital expenditure model to an operational one, great. MS is doing that with their O365 setup, trying to get customers away from on prem whenever possible. And ultimately MS is ending up with more money.

    I hear the excuses that it's possible to save money with SaaS, but I rarely actually see it costing less.

    That's great of office products. But industrial stuff that needs to talk to equipment has a hard time with that model and no hardware.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.

    How do you do Serial over IP without hardware?



  • It's easy to say things like "just use serial over IP", but has anyone tried that? We did, and we found it cheaper and easier to do serial processing on a PC. Most serial over IP adapters are like $100. And how are you going to manage them? And how will you have flexibility for multiple connections? Cost rises very quickly when you are paying $100 per port to give them an IP address. And then how do you tie that serial connection to the data coming from other devices, since it's just streams from all over.

    It doesn't work in the real world, not for a lot of things. Serial over IP would result in an industrial scale just sending random data over the Internet. How do you expect to use that?



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @Dashrender said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Through devices like USBAnywhere.

    RS232 serial, not USB serial.

    He had the right idea though.. they do make units to handle this.

    1 Port RS232 Serial to IP Ethernet Converter / Device Server - Aluminum Serial over IP Device Server - Serial to IP Converter



  • @JaredBusch said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @Dashrender said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Through devices like USBAnywhere.

    RS232 serial, not USB serial.

    He had the right idea though.. they do make units to handle this.

    1 Port RS232 Serial to IP Ethernet Converter / Device Server - Aluminum Serial over IP Device Server - Serial to IP Converter

    Yeah, I had looked at that. But really, that costs more than a Raspberry Pi and basically contains a full computer. So if we deploy this... other than costing too much and being too simple to be easy to use, what have we accomplished? We are right back to deploying hardware at the customer site - so exactly the thing we were supposedly trying to avoid. But not in a good way to be usable (in a simple case like a scale or other industrial equipment that needs to be combined with other local data to be meaningful) so we lose functionality without addressing the perceived problem.



  • I'll give a concrete example that I think explains how simple the problem is...

    We have operators who fill out a web page with data about some items. They then hit a button on a scale and get the weight of the item and type it into the web page. This is simple, no hardware needed on site. Pure web page.

    In the past they wanted the scale to talk to the application directly, and didn't want to provide their own hardware that would have a serial port on it (because that's stuff their IT doesn't managed.) So we provided desktops with serial ports so that the scale could talk to the computer and fill in the weight on the web page while they scanned it. Having the scale talk to the computer locally was necessary to correlate the weight to the item being entered.

    If we use Serial over IP, we would still have to provide the hardware. So nothing changes. We would still be buying and deploying computers with serial adapters to the customer site, just also making them provide PCs to use.

    But in the SoIP model, the serial data would be sent to our hosted app disconnected from the items being scanned in. While we could guess that the weights being received were associated with certain data, it would just be a guess because nothing obvious would reliably tie the two things together.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.

    How do you do Serial over IP without hardware?

    There's nothing physical to plug into the server piece. The serial device connects to the network, and you install software on the Server that uses it.

    Something similar to: https://www.startech.com/ca/Networking-IO/Serial-over-IP/4-Port-Serial-Ethernet-Device-Server-with-PoE~NETRS42348PD

    Edit: You said a scale, and that led my brain directly to Scale Computing. But this type of adapter will work for pretty much anything that works on a serial line.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.

    How do you do Serial over IP without hardware?

    There's nothing physical to plug into the server piece. The serial device connects to the network, and you install software on the Server that uses it.

    Something similar to: https://www.startech.com/ca/Networking-IO/Serial-over-IP/4-Port-Serial-Ethernet-Device-Server-with-PoE~NETRS42348PD

    Edit: You said a scale, and that led my brain directly to Scale Computing. But this type of adapter will work for pretty much anything that works on a serial line.

    That device is an industrial linux server, but with just one application.

    It's better to just put the processing of the serial data inside of a generic industrial server.



  • @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.

    How do you do Serial over IP without hardware?

    There's nothing physical to plug into the server piece. The serial device connects to the network, and you install software on the Server that uses it.

    Something similar to: https://www.startech.com/ca/Networking-IO/Serial-over-IP/4-Port-Serial-Ethernet-Device-Server-with-PoE~NETRS42348PD

    Edit: You said a scale, and that led my brain directly to Scale Computing. But this type of adapter will work for pretty much anything that works on a serial line.

    That device is an industrial linux server, but with just one application.

    I'm confused. Do you mean the StarTech device I linked to?

    It's better to just put the processing of the serial data inside of a generic industrial server.

    That I can agree with, as long as you mean getting the data from the serial device to the server that ultimately needs to process it.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.

    How do you do Serial over IP without hardware?

    There's nothing physical to plug into the server piece. The serial device connects to the network, and you install software on the Server that uses it.

    Something similar to: https://www.startech.com/ca/Networking-IO/Serial-over-IP/4-Port-Serial-Ethernet-Device-Server-with-PoE~NETRS42348PD

    Edit: You said a scale, and that led my brain directly to Scale Computing. But this type of adapter will work for pretty much anything that works on a serial line.

    That device is an industrial linux server, but with just one application.

    I'm confused. Do you mean the StarTech device I linked to?

    It's better to just put the processing of the serial data inside of a generic industrial server.

    That I can agree with, as long as you mean getting the data from the serial device to the server that ultimately needs to process it.

    Yes, the Startech device is an industrial embedded server. You can buy a similar server and run whatever linux you want on it. For instance https://www.bsicomputer.com/products/ico300-83b-16686

    When you do that you can process the serial data right at the spot instead of having to immediately send it somewhere else. That is especially advantageous when we are talking about a real-time application where for instance the weight from a scale will determine if the product is OK or if it goes into the bin for being under weight.



  • And if you would need a user interface as well as @scottalanmiller mentioned, you could use something called a panel pc, which is an embedded computer with a touch screen in one unit.

    For instance like this:
    https://www.advantech.com/products/b4b1d255-3d7c-4edb-ae84-5f9f2ab56107/ppc-3211sw/mod_515d879f-8f40-48ad-b9a4-90d87db30743



  • @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    Yes, the Startech device is an industrial embedded server.

    I am checking to make sure of the model of the ones that are in use now. But basically the devices that I am thinking of, all they do is take whatever comes in over the serial port and send it to the server ip and port you set it for.

    If your program is a special program that requires using a COM port, it can be set up for that too. (for instance, if your scale has to communicate over COM3 in Windows).



  • @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    And if you would need a user interface as well as @scottalanmiller mentioned, you could use something called a panel pc, which is an embedded computer with a touch screen in one unit.

    For instance like this:
    https://www.advantech.com/products/b4b1d255-3d7c-4edb-ae84-5f9f2ab56107/ppc-3211sw/mod_515d879f-8f40-48ad-b9a4-90d87db30743

    That goes far, far, far beyond the devices I am thinking of, lol.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    Yes, the Startech device is an industrial embedded server.

    I am checking to make sure of the model of the ones that are in use now. But basically the devices that I am thinking of, all they do is take whatever comes in over the serial port and send it to the server ip and port you set it for.

    If your program is a special program that requires using a COM port, it can be set up for that too. (for instance, if your scale has to communicate over COM3 in Windows).

    I understand what you are saying. It's a fact though that every device that does this is a linux/bsd computer of some kind. It doesn't take much processing power but you need a complete tcp/ip stack inside. There are a bunch of manufacturers for these devices.

    Also if we talk about scales that you would normally use in some kind of production or quality control, nowadays they commonly have an ethernet port either as standard or as an option. Still any real-time processing will be on-prem. Results might be sent to the cloud though for presentation and final storage.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    There's nothing physical to plug into the server piece. The serial device connects to the network, and you install software on the Server that uses it.

    How is that different than what we already had?

    And how does it usefully talk to the server, just sending random numbers isn't very useful on its own.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    Edit: You said a scale, and that led my brain directly to Scale Computing. But this type of adapter will work for pretty much anything that works on a serial line.

    But not "work", they will send data but without the useful context. And still requires the hardware, so in no way stops us from having to supply hardware. It just changes from one hardware to another.



  • @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.

    How do you do Serial over IP without hardware?

    There's nothing physical to plug into the server piece. The serial device connects to the network, and you install software on the Server that uses it.
    Something similar to: https://www.startech.com/ca/Networking-IO/Serial-over-IP/4-Port-Serial-Ethernet-Device-Server-with-PoE~NETRS42348PD
    Edit: You said a scale, and that led my brain directly to Scale Computing. But this type of adapter will work for pretty much anything that works on a serial line.

    That device is an industrial linux server, but with just one application.

    I'm confused. Do you mean the StarTech device I linked to?

    Yes you just replaced one device with another.



  • @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @Pete-S said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    @dafyre said in Hybrid SaaS?:

    With things like Vultr and DO and the like, I'd think there would be little reason to put fresh hardware on a customer's site provided they have decent internet.

    How do you deal with things like talking to serial devices like a scale?

    Serial over IP. I was doing that at my last job BEFORE we were virtual.

    How do you do Serial over IP without hardware?

    There's nothing physical to plug into the server piece. The serial device connects to the network, and you install software on the Server that uses it.

    Something similar to: https://www.startech.com/ca/Networking-IO/Serial-over-IP/4-Port-Serial-Ethernet-Device-Server-with-PoE~NETRS42348PD

    Edit: You said a scale, and that led my brain directly to Scale Computing. But this type of adapter will work for pretty much anything that works on a serial line.

    That device is an industrial linux server, but with just one application.

    I'm confused. Do you mean the StarTech device I linked to?

    It's better to just put the processing of the serial data inside of a generic industrial server.

    That I can agree with, as long as you mean getting the data from the serial device to the server that ultimately needs to process it.

    Yes, the Startech device is an industrial embedded server. You can buy a similar server and run whatever linux you want on it. For instance https://www.bsicomputer.com/products/ico300-83b-16686

    When you do that you can process the serial data right at the spot instead of having to immediately send it somewhere else. That is especially advantageous when we are talking about a real-time application where for instance the weight from a scale will determine if the product is OK or if it goes into the bin for being under weight.

    In my case, I could do it with a Taspberry Pi and get both the manipulation that is needed, but also the end user deivce for them to use. The scale only works, in my example, when a human can coordinate it with other data.


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