July 22, 2014

The not so disruptive nature of the Cloud - From On-Premise to Off-Premise

 So, as the title of this post suggests, I want to discuss the disruptive nature of the Cloud, or rather the cloud not being so disruptive at all. This will be a series of 5 posts in total, you're reading the third post.

Read about the cloud and what it means and you're bound to read that the introduction of the Cloud, the real Cloud, the one that meets all criteria for being a Cloud, has been disruptive.

I like the NIST definition of Cloud, it is quite comprehensive and less vendor-biased than Gartner's defintion.

The Cloud has been disruptive when it comes to the IT industry, especially the hosting market. But it has also been a force in how we handle IT within the enterprise. There are a few important aspects of IT in the enterprise that we consider to have changed due to the Cloud:

  • Moving from in-house IT management services to off-site IT management services. 
  • Moving from CAPEX (Capital Expenses) based IT investments to OPEX (Operating Expenses). 
  • Moving from on-premise (business) applications to off-premise (hosted) applications. 
  • Moving from a centralized IT to a democratized IT 

  • I'm sure you can think of other movements as well in your IT environment, but these are typically considered to be not only happening, but also to be disruptive within the enterprise.
    These are in fact not really changes happening due to the Cloud, the Cloud merely gave these movements a boost and fast-tracked the changes in IT.

    Last time I wrote about the non-disruptiness of the Cloud in terms of finances, CAPEX vs. OPEX, this time around I will discuss the location of your (business) applications.

    Of course with the advent of the Cloud, we're no longer hosting our applications in our own data centers, which may or not be operated by a third party, the hosting provider but instead we host our applications with a Cloud provider in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS). The posterboy of SaaS is most likely Talk with anybody about SaaS and ask for a typical example of SaaS and they're likely to mention Read any article about SaaS and the article is bound to mention the same.

    So what is SaaS? Well, something SaaS is not, is disruptive. But there's a lot out there in the world that is not disruptive. SaaS is the situation where you buy the right to use a particular piece of software that is hosted by a third party, the SaaS provider, and you're not the only one using the software. Ideally you're only aware of other customers using the same software because you understand the concept of SaaS and not because they're messing up your 'copy' of the software.
    The NIST has an interesting definition of SaaS, which from a SaaS customer point of view is particularly interesting when it comes to the last part of the definition, where it discusses the level of control the customer has, namely no control other than some limited configuration capabilities.

    Of course we all know about email services like GMail, Hotmail, YahooMail, or your ISP's webmail solution. And although this is SaaS, this is only since the introduction of SaaS as terminology a real alternative for on-premise email capabilities for enterprises.

    This is nothing new to those that have been using the numerous ASP (Application Service Provider) solutions out in the market. The difference with SaaS is in the Cloud. Where the ASP was hosted on-premise with the ASP vendor, the SaaS is hosted in the Cloud, allowing it to be used in massive scale, and because of the sheer unlimited resources, it allows for extremely diverse applications.

    The move from on-premise to off-premise as a Cloud aspect for enterprises is hardly disruptive, it's something that's been happening even before there was a Cloud and embraced by the business long before the IT embraced or even grasped the concept.

    The most evident different between ASP and SaaS is the extremely standardized contracts of SaaS offerings if there is a contract at all. Where as with ASP a separate contract was closed between provider and consumer, allowing for some tailoring, with SaaS this is not so much the case. Contracts are standard and with a mere credit card you can sign up. No long term contracts, but pay as you go.

    Next time another undisruptive aspect of the Cloud.

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