Posts Tagged ‘Gartner

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.


Cloud_DefinitionpngAnalysts should love hype – it lets them jump into a hot area and be the thought leaders who everyone has to consult to make any sense out of what is going on in the area.

“Cloud” is probably the most hyped word in the industry these days and everyone has a definition of what it is. And despite this being a running joke in the industry, everyone obviously needs definition conversion to happen so we can start speaking the same language here.

U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) stepped in and did – from my perspective – something truly amazing: they provided a relatively comprehensive set of cloud definitions in a simple two-page document.

The document lists major characteristics of cloud services:

  • On-demand self-service
  • Ubiquitous network access
  • Location independent resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured Service

Classical delivery models:

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

And cloud deployment models:

  • Private
  • Community
  • Public
  • Hybrid

For details and definitions see full NIST draft here.

Gartner has published a comparison between their definitions and those of NIST (requires subscription). In which they basically approve NIST definition (apart from a small rant that internet is not being specifically called out as access mechanism – my guess is that this is because private clouds can be deployed and accessed in local datacenters).

But then they suggest adding a couple of extra layers to the IaaS/PaaS/SaaS stack: namely Information and Process services – and quite a few deployment models explicitly calling out all various combinations of ownership (individual agency/company, government-wide, third-party) and access levels (anyone, limited membership, exclusive).

Here’s why I think that NIST definitions are better:

  • NIST’s terminology is widely accepted in the industry – for example, SaaS/PaaS/IaaS. Whereas Gartner seems to be pushing their own wording for everything: application services, application infrastructure services, system infrastructure services.
  • NIST is simpler:
    • SaaS/PaaS/IaaS distinctions seems to be sufficient – additional Gartner’s information services and process services seem to be subsets of SaaS and unnecessary detailed.
    • Private/Community/Public/Hybrid is much easier than the 8 block definition which Gartner has – and also generalized because Gartner’s classification is somewhat government-related. Yes, there might be further details in these groups: e.g. you might organize a public cloud out of your own datacenter or get an external company set one up for you. Yes, these details might affect the way your datacenter works for you but if we go along this path we can go way deeper than the 8 options Gartner came up with. 4 is enough. 🙂 In fact, I believe that for most companies out there 3 would have been enough as well: Public/Private/Hybrid.

All, in all, a very good job by NIST, which hopefully will make Gartner work together and agree to one simple framework (Gartner’s reference architectures make my head heart).

In addition to these, Forrester just published a related report: “How To Message “Cloud” Offerings And Not Get Lost In The Fog” – arguing that use of the term “Cloud” – vague and overhyped it is these days – can backfire on you and should be avoided.

Although, I personally think that the term “cloud” is still the right term for the overall class of dynamic on-demand systems, I could not agree more that companies need to be specific when positioning their products and not do bulk search/replace changing all “SOA”/”SaaS”/”Internet”/”Virtual” terms on their web-sites to “Cloud”.

For example, I tend to characterize our upcoming OnDemand services as “Systems management as a service” (this is not approved by Quest marketing – just my personal wording for now. ;))

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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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“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.

© 2008-2012 Dmitry Sotnikov

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