IT world’s ‘next big thing’ will be a slow, steady burner

28 Jul 2008

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Although cited as ‘the next big thing’, software as a service (SaaS) delivered via cloud computing is currently experiencing slow adoption, but by 2012 it is predicted that 80pc of organisations worldwide will use some form of cloud computing.

John Murphy (pictured), director of A&O Systems + Services in Ireland says that SaaS adoption is “slow, but it’s the same everywhere at the moment”.

“The principal of paying for IT services under a subscription or rental model is being more widely promoted as a next ‘big thing’. Under the umbrella term ‘cloud computing’, organisations will be able to access an increasingly diverse mix of applications and infrastructure-related services over the internet to benefit from the massive economies of scale possible by this macro-level consolidation.”

By 2012, Gartner predicts that 80pc of large enterprises will pay for some cloud computing service and 30pc of them will pay for cloud computing infrastructure.

Championed most notably by companies such as Salesforce.com and Google, SaaS is a method of using software without the costs and complexities typically associated with an ‘onsite’ implementation.

In recent weeks, A&O Systems + Services Ireland signed a partnership deal with Service-now.com, the pioneer of on demand IT service management (ITSM) to deliver a new suite of ITSM software, offered as a service via the internet.

Service-now.com, established by IT veteran Fred Luddy, has taken intuitive Web 2.0 technologies, ITIL V3 standards, plus a unique SaaS delivery model and packaged them into an affordable, enterprise scalable, application set.

“By adopting a ‘pay-as-you-go’ subscription-based commercial model, users pay to access the software but do not own any form of license in the conventional sense,” Murphy explains.

“The responsibility for providing the necessary hardware, storage, security and backup infrastructure rests with the service provider, and this is included as part of the monthly or annual charge. Of most significance, however, is the fact that SaaS vendors also retain responsibility for applying service packs, patches and upgrades. This further removes a major source of management and support overhead from the end user.

“The benefits of a SaaS model are typically derived from reduced up front capital investment, as well as a reduction in the cost and effort of ongoing maintenance and support. Incremental benefits can also be derived by avoiding hardware and data-centre costs, improved service continuity and disaster recovery,” Murphy adds.

Murphy says that typically he has seen between 50pc and 80pc lower costs when compared with traditional methods.

“It is a paradox that many traditional ITSM tools require significant investment in time, money and resources to implement and maintain. This places a burden on the very function that the tools are supposed to be helping. As a result, a business case can all too quickly become compromised by added complexity and cost,” he adds.

He says that half the battle with properly managing IT infrastructure and applications is adhering to best practices.

“However, the other half is putting technology in place to automate, monitor and speed problem resolution. We believe that an IT operation needs as much help with processes as it does technology and that technology without best practices will ultimately fail,” Murphy explains.

By John Kennedy

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com