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Ruggero Contu has published a case study which he created after studying Quest Software‘s transition from being a pure software vendor to also a SaaS cloud-based IT management company: “Case Study: Quest Leverages Cloud Services to Introduce SaaS-Based Log Management Product” (registration required to access the page):

Although new business opportunities can justify a SaaS project, implementation of a new cloud-based offering is not a straightforward task. CTOs, development managers, and sales, marketing and service delivery managers should plan for the far-reaching changes needed across the organization to reach a successful implementation.

SaaS-based security products have been gaining popularity and adoption within organizations over the past few years. Although demand for SaaS-based security information event management (SIEM) products is not as high as for other security areas, such as messaging security and remote vulnerability assessment, SaaS-based SIEM is a valuable option for those enterprises that cannot implement security information tools. An on-premises SIEM implementation may not be justified, particularly in those cases where there are limited resources available to be dedicated to deploying and managing SIEM products; the cost of SIEM implementation may be unjustified also in those instances with well-defined but limited technology needs, such as to meet a specific regulatory requirement. As a result, there are interesting market opportunities for SIEM vendors willing to embark on the launch of a SaaS-based log management solution. This Case Study discusses how Quest Software developed and implemented a SaaS-based product offering.

Ruggero goes into the details of why and how Quest went from software to SaaS, what was involved in the transition, and which benefits did this move bring to both the vendor and its customers.

If you work for a software company considering a similar move, or if you are an IT professional considering starting to use SaaS in your environment, I would recommend obtaining and reading the full document here.

You’d think that after all the news of China blocking Google and other web sites Software-as-a-Service and cloud computing would be the worst software delivery model you would imagine?

Customer survey on SaaS Gartner conducted in November 2008 has shown that Asia/Pacific region is getting ahead of North America and Europe in SaaS adoption. Their respondents were evenly distributed across the globe with a third being in North America, third – in Europe, and third in Asia/Pacific (year, I know that there are other places on Earth too.) However, in terms of companies who have adopted SaaS about 50% of respondents turned out to be from Asia/Pacific.

Moreover, in this region more than 50% of respondents are in the process of replacing some on-premise systems with SaaS (in India this number is even higher – 70%).

Recent IDC report goes into some detail on the SaaS adoption in Asia/Pacific, and not only they also show significant growth in the market and the shift from on-premise systems, but specifically China turned out to the leader in SaaS adoption (more than 80% of respondents use or plan to use SaaS), and Australia to be a relative laggard (with slightly less that 50%).

My guess is that there are a few factors contributing to this higher SaaS growth in the region:

  • Some countries such as India are currently investing a lot in the internet infrastructure, with many other such as Korea already the broadband a lot of us envy.
  • In other countries, such as China, SaaS just makes more sense economically because it lets you collect money for your services more effectively than you can for packaged software. Packaged software sales are not that good in there due to high rates of piracy and so on. Subscription-based pay-as-you-go services might do better.

And yes, in some countries there will always be political risks, but these seem to be there in general and not really making SaaS business more risky than any other business there.

Would you agree with these conclusions? Thoughts/comments?

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Just because you have software packaged as a virtual machine and running in Amazon EC2 does not mean you have a “cloud” offering.

As easy as it sounds in most cases when a vendor claims they have their software available as a service/cloud offering – it is just that: a virtual machine image (such as Amazon Machine Image – AMI) and maybe a hosting partner eager to host this virtual machine for you.

The latest report from Gartner’s Lydia Leong “Software on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud: How to Tell Hype From Reality” talks about dealing with vendors who hype their solutions as “cloud” offerings when in reality they are not. She points out all the additional things you need to consider in these cases, such a:

  • Whether the application is capable of scaling up horizontally (by adding more instances) – tip: in such pseudo-cloud offerings in most cases the answer is no, or at least not automatically.
  • Whether the application got re-architected to deal with internet-level delays when working with storage – if not you are getting a very unreliable service.
  • Whether you have to deal with Amazon bills, projecting the load/consumption, selecting proper instance size and other options and changing these over time, and so on – all these items add up to your total cost of ownership (TCO) fast.

I personally would say – just avoid these solutions. If the “cloud” offering does not abstract all the scaling, machine management, and resource consumption tasks from you – this is not a real SaaS offering, and most likely it will turn out to be more expensive rather than less expensive.

You will probably save on hardware maintanance (depends on the period of time and whether you have hardware in excess already) but you will spend far more worrying about all the new “cloud” administration tasks which you have never done before. These are new issues, new challenges and they introduce additional risks and costs which you will find hard to predict.

A real cloud offering:

  • Charges you for what you get (e.g. number of your users accessing the system, number of mailboxes in the cloud, the period for which your backups are kept, and so on)  – which makes your costs predictable and not relying on the underlying implementation,
  • Handles all the underlying infrastructure (scalability, security, configuration, and so on) for you – you just get the service and don’t know or care how many virtual machines are running somewhere to make this happen.

These are definitely the principals we have for our Quest OnDemand solutions, and the ones every “cloud” solutions should implement. Good to finally get a Gartner report articulating the cloud hype misconceptions. Get it here.

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That’s what Gartner’s Andrea Di Maiofound in his recent report: “Government in the Cloud: Much More Than Computing“.

This might surprise initially – after all Forrester just told us that public sector was lagging in the cloud computing adoption rush. However, Andrea builds up a pretty impressive case of why cloud trend is inevitable for governments.

There are a few factors which when considered together make the cloud happening:

  • Overall commoditization of government services and ever blurring boundaries between government, NGOs, public, etc.
  • Commoditization of IT services: the trend from custom applications, to packaged applications, to central/shared SaaS-style apps,
  • Internal budget constraints,
  • Public technology (such as YouTube) often being simply the easiest and most effective way to reach out to citizens.

This does not mean that governments are rushing to move all their applications to Amazon. However, there is a trend to:

  • Use existing public social media platforms,
  • Centralize services across agencies (effectively building some kind of private clouds),
  • Use public horizontal services (HR, messaging, collaboration) where privacy, security, compliance and other concerns can be mitigated.

Andrea’s report provides details on these trends and looks at their manifestations across:

  • System and Application Infrastructure
  • Public Data
  • Constituent Data
  • Applications
  • Business Processes
  • Constituent-Facing Services
  • Channels

Read/buy the report here.

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Forrester’s Frank Gillet just published results of a big survey on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS – like Amazon’s compute cloud or internal cloud-like datacenter) acceptance across geographies and company sizes titled “Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong About Cloud IaaS“.

As the title implies the survey has a few very interesting results.

First and foremost, they found that bigger customers are actually more willing to use IaaS than smaller companies – Frank attributes that to enterprises being more familiar with virtualization trends.

Public clouds are actually more popular than private (internal) ones – which in my mind is because there is simply too much confusion about what internal clouds are and technology not really being at the commodity level yet. Frank adds a very good point on inadequate positioning on internal clouds as pay-per-use, rather than self-service on-demand resources which makes the idea look less appealing.

Production use is as high as dev/test – actually this makes a lot of sense. In the early virtualization days it was mostly used in dev/test environments and only then got accepted for production systems. In my opinion, cloud computing is now piggy-backing on this virtualization success and thus jumping ahead right to the production acceptance.

Level of acceptance of cloud computing is approximately the same across geographies (e.g. US and Europe) but not across verticals (e.g. public sector lacking way behind retail – which again makes sense because the former has more regulatory concerns and the latter is used to supply chains and is all about efficiency.)

Overall, this is a very good report with lots of useful data. If you are a Forrester subscriber or have $1999 to spend go get it here.

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“APaaS: A Step to a ‘Killer App’ for Cloud Computing?” is a great report by Yefim V. Natis and Eric Knipp published by Gartner last week.

Yefim and Eric, as it seems to me, managed to articulate the very essence of what makes Cloud Computing so disruptive:

“Easy to learn and use application development environment, with runtime deployment of virtually unlimited scalability and reliability, at small or midsize business (SMB) technology prices” sounds too good to be true. However, it is one of the promises of the state-of-the-art cloud-computing environment.

As you can see from the title is on application-platform-as-a-service (APaaS). However, I found it very true to my area – systems management software. We are currently working on turning some of our software products (such as Recovery Manager for AD) into subscription-based services, and all these points are extremely applicable:

  • Easy to learn and use – no need to set up and maintain all the storage, reporting, and management infrastructure as you normally would,
  • With runtime deployment of virtually unlimited scalability and reliability – absolutely: you will never run out of tapes or disk space, or have your backup storage fail, and you get your backups stored off-site without having to pay someone to come and ship your tapes to another location,
  • At small or midsize business (SMB) technology prices – economy of scale and subscription-based pay-as-you-go model make this really affordable to everyone.

The report goes into details on these points, as well as provides an overview of the challenges ahead. Overall, a very good read regardless of whether you are planning to provide/use APaaS or any other cloud technology.

Get (or buy for $495) it here.

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Dataquest Insight: Cloud-Based Server Backup Services, 2Q09 Update” by Adam W. Couture is a good feature-by-feature (including pricing) comparison of a dozen of major online backup solutions for the enterprise space.

Backup might initially sound like the worst cloud application you can think of: after all it involves big data transfers and most likely the data about which you care the most – and thus for which you have the biggest security and liability concerns.

Yet, backup and recovery products (and obviously migration solutions) are normally the first ones to emerge in any new markets – the pain is much more obvious than whatever management tasks you might also have – so the cloud market is no exception. Also, specifically in the cloud space there is an additional bonus of the backup data being by definition in a remote location – and thus safe from natural disasters which might hit your local datacenter.

Gartner survey is a great source of information if you are considering buying an online backup service or going to the market with one. It seems to be a rapidly evolving space with major players entering the market and solutions advancing from simple file storage to those including standby emergency environments and virtualization support. The report helps you make sense of who is doing what and how much is that going to cost you. A very good read indeed.

You can buy the full report here.

[UPDATE] Just stumbled upon this (relatively) old post of mine and noticed that obviously neither the post nor the Gartner report had a mention of the (not existent at that point) Quest OnDemand Recovery for Active Directory – specialized SaaS backup and granular rollback solution with which I was personally involved. It is also an interesting example of how cloud lets more specialized and focused backup products get to the market and succeed.


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The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer Jelastic or anyone else for that matter. All trademarks acknowledged.

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