So “Lawson Software’s chief executive, Harry Debes, doesn’t believe in software as a service.”

This guy’s a dinosaur. All of the most successful sites on the web have got to where they are through an ongoing communication with their users. That’s the way of the web – and it’s also the way of any successful business. Ebay united a community who wanted to exchange junk with each other. Even Amazon has what is essentially an open forum for the trashing of the very products they sell. How come Wikipedia is the top of the SERPs while the Encyclopaedia Britannica site generally languishes at something like a close 353rd? I’ll tell you why (if you haven’t already worked your way through what is now becoming an increasingly laboured metaphor) – because the EB looks like Hitler next to the divinely collaborative Wikipedia (we’ll ignore its questionable nofollow tactics for the moment).

So – Wikipedia is SaaS to Britannica’s Microsoft, and it’s going to be the next big thing.

When web and software developers realise the power of some of the mash-up possibilities sites like The Web Service are offering, it will become the industry standard. But far from being a developer-led revolution, small businesses will start to wake up and demand the kind of software that the SaaS “pay as you go” models can offer them. In fact, they’ll have to in order to remain competitive.

Harry Debes says traditional software is like “cocaine”… I don’t think so (but kudos for comparing your products to hard drugs… I would have settled at speed) I think people will realise how it might be just as unhealthy and ensnaring but not as addictive. People resent being tied to software. And where is the accountability? There isn’t any. You just have to take it as the program crashes again or takes 2 hours to update itself… this has become a sour and unwanted part of our information systems culture, championed by Microsoft and its ridiculously over-bloated Vista, the Mr Creosote of the operating system world.

While we’ll probably be stuck with the same cumbersome operating systems for the foreseeable future, SaaS opens up a whole new way to pay for software – small companies in particular will have access through “pay-as-you-go” models to the kind of technology that would have broken the bank before Web 2.0. It opens up a whole new world of profitability that companies would be mad to ignore. And if the web’s taught us anything, it’s that the little guys add up to something big.

Software as a Service might be just as easy to get out of as it is to buy into, but far from being a weakness, that’s the true strength of SaaS – software companies will be forced to have a relationship with their clients. No more CDs through the letterbox and no more software dictatorships. IBM’s taking an interestEven Microsoft is making some half-hearted concessions.

Let’s hear from this cocaine-endorsing joker again (and let’s remember he’s the CEO of a very successful company):

“Because all your costs are up front and your revenue is over a five-year period, the more you sell, the more you lose.”

Where did this guy learn economics? The sort of sophistry he is entering into here is pretty shameful. Remember his business model, folks: investing for a future return is classed as a waste of time; a loss. Better to become a millionaire before you even wake up, let alone get out of bed, enter the office or actually do anything worthwhile.

This guy rebuts Harry’s madness too, undoubtedly more eloquently.