Waiting for the World to Awaken to SAAS' Potential

Despite software as a service's potential to be the next wave of IT, it's still a client-server world. Meanwhile, vendors are busy colonizing the cloud with new "as a service" options, such as cloud-based VDI, data analytics and e-Discovery services.

Cloud computing's software-as-a-service model may one day dominate the world of IT, but across the vast expanse of the world's IT departments, that morning hasn't yet seen its dawn.

For all its efficiency, cost savings and centralized control, SAAS hasn't yet convinced most of the world's IT decision makers that it is worth a leap of faith.

"There's no question that SAAS, even though the technology is ready for the enterprise, isn't being adopted at the rate that some people thought it would be by this time," data center analyst Greg Schulz (pictured) of StorageIO and author of "The Green and Virtual Data Center" told eWEEK.

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"Companies are going to go with what works. If a client-server system installed seven years ago still works and gets the job done, they will stay with it but keep a close eye on it at the same time. If the budget opens up, a refresh is needed and the tech is there, then they may make a change. But the conditions all have to be right," he said.

IT leaders express continuing reservations about data security, 24/7 access to data in a public cloud, and whether a provider will still be here years from now. If it's outside the firewall, it's not completely controllable, and IT managers tend to like complete control.

But over the long haul, this hesitation due to skepticism should work out to be a good thing. It is giving software developers and SAAS providers more time to innovate, work out bugs and prepare a better overall product. For instance, in 2009, companies considering Amazon's IAAS (infrastructure as a service) EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) had to worry about the service's lack of PCI compliance. In 2010, a newly PCI-compliant EC2 meant that Amazon's service switched from being a PCI liability to being a potential compliance solution.

Along similar lines, new SAAS-based product offerings are now moving out to what was just a short time ago uncharted waters, for example, cloud-hosted "big-data" analytics, e-discovery, and in one of the areas of computing most closely associated with on-premises solutions, the hosting of individual desktop systems.

Is SAAS VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) the missing link in getting virtual desktops off the corporate wish list and into regular use? The enterprise client-server system may have run its course with Win 7, and VDI has been a tantalizing alternative for about 12 years. Large new deployments by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, GE and Wells Fargo indicate that big enterprises are now buying into this. What does the future hold?

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...