Why SaaS is Great For ISVs' R&D
As a side note on the Ruby on Rails vs. J2EE vs. the rest of the world of programming languages, I'd like to offer a SaaS-oriented perspective on the matter, arguing that all these infantile image and perception wars are soon to fade away. Software development companies will finally have the freedom to choose whatever language and whatever platform they consider most appropriate for their job, be it ERLANG, Python or C#; J2EE, .NET or LAMP; Open Solaris or IBM Z-O/S – with SaaS it is the land of socially accepted endless possibilities.
Market Perception and Social Pressure
I have discussed in the past how fragile is technology decision making in face of a social pressure. So far, when an ISV was developing an Enterprise Software, it practically had no hesitation (or choice) as for which development language to use – it would have necessarily been Java on J2EE, because that's what the customers (the "market") were demanding (after succumbing to the social pressure exerted upon them by the J2EE Platforms' vendors). So it was a vicious circle: the platform vendors controlling their customers, the customers controlling their ISVs.
Hardware platforms' vendors had their own pressure campaigns, and so Enterprise Software ISVs were forced to develop their Enterprise-grade software for "mission-critical", expensive, proprietary BIG UNIX boxes, as mandated by the "Customers". I remember pleading to my Billing vendor to have a Linux/Utility version in order to cut down costs, boost performance and increase availability. The answer I got was: "our R&D has planned such a version a long time ago, but it was never approved by Sales & Marketing, with the pretext that the "market" rejects Linux for mission-critical applications".
But all this is over (as long as SaaS is your strategy). Finally ISVs can develop for whatever platform they see fit, with whatever language and technology that they fancy. The Platform vendors and their Markets are now out of the pressure loop.
So if you are a member of a SaaS-oriented company – free your mind; enjoy your options; pick what's best for YOU.
Pressure always exists, only it has moved to the customer-facing side of the moon. It's the dark side which is now pressure-free.