But that contract, which includes IBM's hosting of Popeyes' e-mail system (Microsoft Exchange), will expire in 2009. Microsoft recently released a SaaS version of Exchange for a mere $10 per user per year. When Popeyes' contract with IBM expires, Davis admits he could pursue more SaaS options as it would likely cost him less money that outsourcing to Big Blue.
So if there are no servers and the like, what does his IT department do?
"Three [people] are dedicated towards making sure the restaurants have whatever technology they need," he says. "The rest are project managers and manage our relationships with vendors."
Most people who spend their lives in technology know that adaptation is necessary to job survival. Nobody can keep up with the pace of technology innovation entirely; the best you can do is stay ahead of the curve enough to remain viable.
For developers, that'll mean embracing new programming languages and open Web standards when creating their enterprise software. But making the transition doesn't have to be terribly difficult, says Force.com's Coffee. "If you currently develop in Java or .Net, and you understand enough about databases, the language of ours is very readable," he says.
For IT support people who handle enterprise infrastructure and back-end support, future roles might include working in the data centre of a SaaS vendor, or helping ensure that a company can integrate various SaaS apps, says Fred Luddy, president and CEO of Service-Now, an IT service management company that runs on a SaaS model.
"Integration will be the main challenge," he says. "IT will be at a higher level."
While Serena Software's Clement knows he has some learning to do, he knows enough to be prepared for changes in software development. "My experience has always been that programming is programming," he says. "The language is sort of a detail. There's this sea change in the computing world right now. The environment is changing, and while I have fears, there's nothing more thrilling than working on something that will be relevant for the future."