From On-Premises Software to Software-as-a-Service: Transforming C3 Solutions

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CASE STUDY. This case describes the evolution of a software development firm’s infrastructure supporting the development, delivery, and operation of applications over two decades.

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Description

From On-Premises Software to Software-as-a-Service: Transforming C3 Solutions: Abstract

This case describes the evolution of a software development firm’s infrastructure supporting the development, delivery, and operation of applications over two decades. The firm in question is C3 Solutions (C3), a small Canadian software development firm active in a niche market within the transportation and logistics industry. Focusing on the transformation of C3’s business model, the case provides before and after pictures of the infrastructures in place and illustrates the evolution of infrastructures in software development firms. C3’s success was originally based on the development and sale of on-premises software. Due to pressures originating from within the company and its environment, this business model became difficult to sustain, and the organization’s survival was threatened. In response, C3 carried out a profound transformation of its business model, becoming a provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS). To achieve this transformation, the company had to modify its information technology (IT) infrastructure.

Teaching objectives

This case is aimed at students majoring in IT. Because of its highly technical content, it is best suited to senior undergraduate and graduate-level courses on IT infrastructure at a point when students have acquired a strong grasp of the notion and components of infrastructure. It can also be used in graduate IT outsourcing courses to illustrate the critical differences between two different ways to deliver software to clients.

Objective: Give students insight into the implementation of two different types of IT infrastructure and their ability to support a company’s business model. Students should understand, for example, that becoming a SaaS provider after operating as an on-premises software provider takes time and affects the processes (e.g., build, release) and resources mobilized by the organization to develop and deliver software.

Main themes covered

This case centres on the necessary alignment between business model and information technology (IT) infrastructure in the context of software development firms. In particular, it shows how moving from a model of developing on-premises software to a model of software-as-service (SaaS) changes not only the business model but also the technological infrastructure of the software firm.

Concepts and theories related to the case

Digital transformation, i.e., the evolution of IT infrastructure and IT architecture. At the organizational level, SWOT analysis and other such frameworks and tools.

Additional information

Also available in French.

Teaching notes are available for teachers only. Contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre for more information.

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