Few would argue that the cloud computing phenomenon is truly revolutionary in the industry. As it stands, many enterprise-level organisations previously watching from the sidelines or trialing the technology have now jumped in feet first; adoption is accelerating (see Cloudrise document). At the same time, the hype is accelerating too.
Many software companies recognising the trends in Application Cloud adoption have rapidly launched their software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. However, some rudimentary detective work often uncovers that these new SaaS capabilities are less than cloudy. While the commercial models may be more subscription based, the underlying architectures have changed little - often just pure hosting, perhaps with increased virtualisation to get stronger leverage of physical infrastructure.
Does it matter? From the software provider perspective, it can matter if they want to secure any economies of scale but what about the customer - the consumer of SaaS?
The unequivocal answer is yes. It’s the SaaS applications that are architected for cloud that truly deliver on the cloud promise - faster implementation, lower TCO and increased flexibility to adapt or change. Multi-tenancy is a key aspect, but it is also fundamental that newer software is delivered increasingly from these models (vs dated software in a hosted model).
From an enterprise-customer perspective, the trend for increasingly heterogeneous environments and experience shows that this constant detective work is needed to evaluate and take advantage of the evolving ecosystem. This is not a ‘one and done’ strategy and this analysis should be incorporated into new on-going governance models.
The governance model is broader of course and covers the important inter-relationship for the applications to the end-to-end business process and to the deployment audience. It is this inter-relationship that is vital to manage in cloud models. In this way, the ability for rapid adaptation fuelled by viral user adoption is balanced with enterprise-level standardisation and simplification, and the discipline to drive transformational goals and to control risk.
Successful organisations constantly monitor this balance - using cloud computing to drive a strategic agenda for change and at the same they take advantage of the cloud to experiment and try out business process changes and new business models.
New SaaS applications are introduced in this context. Some may be almost ‘plug and play’ with limited process and or system integration. Others may have heavy dependencies including legacy changes - the key here is to apply an iterative transformation approach. With cloud, the key is not to forsake speed and is to architect iterative roadmaps to deal with the complexities.
It’s not trivial, but such governance approaches can help unlock the enormous benefits around cloud. Also, by institutionalising the necessary detective work, they can help cut through the hype.
Post by Saideep Raj, Accenture Global SaaS Lead
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