What is Cloud?
An example of this would be the recent debate on Focus.com, where a question was given to the visitors of their site, simply asking “Is Facebook a Cloud?” The fact that there was even a debate highly indicates to me that there is confusion over Cloud terms, one-way-or-the-other. As I believe most readers of this Blog know, the Cloud is on-demand computing resources that are available on a consumption basis. The Cloud is enabled by virtualization technology providing hardware and operating system efficiencies, making it easier and less expensive to deliver on-demand computing resources. SaaS, on the other hand, in its most basic form is a delivery model allowing a business (or someone) to access applications on the Cloud infrastructure. This is what Facebook is doing, providing their application to millions of people. SaaS uses Cloud, not SaaS is a Cloud. The Facebook application is written for the Cloud and could be considered a Cloud-based application, but it is not “the Cloud”.
Utilizing Cloud in SaaS ERP
Another example is a company I know about who is currently living with the fact that their well-entrenched, on-premise ERP system was acquired by another software provider, and now, their maintenance has tripled, their support is nowhere to be seen, and they truly believe their product is now a product without future direction (ouch!). Even though it seems like this company would be doing anything it can to abandon their current situation, they are not. The reason, as I understand it, is rooted around the fear of the unknown (alternative solutions), the disruption of a bringing in a new system and the cost that it would take to convert to something new.
So the question is why this company has not considered the SaaS-based direction as a way to escape their current situation. It is simple; they still are not aware of the many benefits of SaaS. This company, like many companies, has not been exposed enough to SaaS and Cloud computing already in order to see it as a viable option. To me, SaaS and Cloud computing would be an excellent alternative solution for this company, and others in the same situation. The benefits of SaaS and Cloud computing, including the speed of implementation and low cost of entry naturally makes it the perfect option (shortest possible route) to something new. With SaaS and Cloud computing they would have new, innovative technology that would lower their current internal IT resources and maintenance costs, and could provide the product support they deserve.
Continuing Cloud Knowledge Building
Though these examples may seem different, they are similar in the fact that they are part of the marketplace that lacks an understanding of Cloud and its benefits. Whether it is the company who doesn’t realize how SaaS can help them, or it is people debating whether something is a Cloud or not, says to me that we still have a ways to go.
Though SaaS and Cloud computing is growing, one of the biggest challenges today is the continued education of these technologies in the marketplace. It is my belief that the recognition of SaaS and the Cloud is typical of any new technology direction however. And like other new technologies before it, it too will come to a point where it becomes a natural option in each case for businesses as their needs change. But for right now, it is important for the marketplace vendors (and even users) to take their part in expanding SaaS and Cloud computing knowledge, not only from their product’s perspective, but from what the technology can provide as overall benefits to every business. With understanding comes even more wide-spread acceptance, so important to not only software providers selling SaaS and Cloud products and services, but to the marketplace in general with particular needs that are best supported by this kind of technology