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In traditional software development, if you were programming in a framework such as .NET 2.0 and a new framework was released, such as .NET 3.5, you'd go through a painful upgrade, where you'd have to reapply and thoroughly test your code.

Now, with the new PaaS/ SaaS offers, such as Salesforce.com (SaaS) and Force.com (PaaS), each major version upgrade is usually made seamless by the vendor (Salesforce).

Do you think not offering seamless upgrades, i.e. upgrades where the users have to test their applications and eventually correct them, is a big deal breaker that kills the UX of the customer when using the PaaS/SaaS service?

What is the advantage of offering seamless upgrades?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by ChrisF, 3nafish, Benny Skogberg MCSA, Koen Lageveen, Erics Oct 31 '13 at 6:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Comparing end user product upgrade to an upgrade of the run time library is awkward at best. These are completely different issues. –  peterchen Oct 22 '13 at 13:07
    
@peterchen: I agree, Salesforce.com is a bad comparison. However comparing .NET 3.5 to Force.com isn't that disparate. I''m seeing it as two development environments. –  John Assymptoth Oct 22 '13 at 13:23
    
ok - but IMO the answer for a RTL is completely different from the answer for an end user product, so it would help if you were more specific. –  peterchen Oct 22 '13 at 13:31

2 Answers 2

For end user products:

Advantages:

  • All users run with the latest version. No previous version support necessary.
  • You don't bother the user with thing you can automate and the user can do wrong

Disadvantages:

  • It's usually harder
  • All users run with the latest version.
    • In a conservative market, this can alienate users.
    • If you botch it, you have botched it for all users

Let me elaborate the two last points:

A software change can introduce changes that appear unmentionworthy for you but nevertheless breaks an important buisness process for someone. (There's a reason many corps still run on IE6).

It can also create "user distrust: Imagine you measure something, then calculate some parameters by fitting a model to the curve. In Update 1.2 you improve the fitting algorithm, leading to a smaller error between the model and reality. However, the same input now leads to different output. This will at the very least raise eyebrows for some people.

I am sure you will stagger releases to 10 "friends", 100 "beta" and 1000 "premium" ustomers, so that obvious defects don't affect all your million users. However, there's the non-zero probability that your staggered releases miss a one-in-tenthousand effect, or that there is a silent defect that doesn't turn up until a certain time after release.

In this case, users cannot easily "go back to an older version".

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Insightful. Thanks. –  John Assymptoth Oct 22 '13 at 15:34

Like you said, not offering it is a time consuming problem for customers.

If you need to invest time in an upgrade you can't invest that time directly in product improvements, which slows down your innovation speed and makes you less attractive at the market.

The benefits the customers are getting are more focused employees and less wasted time in maintenance.

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