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7/31/2007
11:06 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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Analyzing the Evolution of SaaS and PaaS

After my post last week on PaaS (Platform as a Service), I've been thinking more about PaaS and its relation to SaaS, and I figured I would back up a bit, and put things into context. I think we are moving in three clear directions. First, there's the movement from visual to service-based interfaces. Second, there's the movement to outsourced or virtualized business processes. Finally, there's the growing acceptance of on-demand platforms for applications, services, and now development and enter

After my post last week on PaaS (Platform as a Service), I've been thinking more about PaaS and its relation to SaaS, and I figured I would back up a bit and put things into context.

I think we are moving in three clear directions:

• First, the movement from visual to service-based interfaces. • Second, the movement to outsourced or virtualized business processes. • Finally, the acceptance of an on-demand platform for applications, services, and now development and enterprise architecture.The movement from visual to service-based interfaces is changing the way we think about computing. Where once we used on-demand applications through user interfaces driven by Web browsers, today we are quickly moving toward leveraging remote services that are delivered on demand. This gives the architect the ability to mix and match services, or application behaviors, allowing him or her to extend the value of those applications to other systems within the enterprise. In essence, this is the notion of SOA, or, creating the infrastructure to take advantage of these services and turn them into solutions, something that is moving to an on-demand platform/architecture as well.

The movement toward outsourced or virtualized business processes is basically building on the movement toward service-based interfaces. We are seeing business processes - once the exclusive home of enterprise applications housed in corporate data centers - created, maintained, and used on on-demand infrastructure. Thus, the business processes are virtual, sharable, and benefit from both economies of scale and the agility that this approach provides. For instance, no longer are architects bound by processes housed within their enterprise. They can access thousands upon thousands of processes on-demand, and mix and match those processes to form critical business solutions, or more importantly, remix them as the needs of the business change.

The use of on-demand technology has proven to be a valuable asset within many enterprises that had not considered such an approach only a few years ago. As a result, the use of an on-demand application delivery mechanism has wide acceptance at the application level, and it is quickly moving to the platform and architecture levels as well. Indeed, many of the same benefits realized when leveraging on-demand applications are just as apparent, perhaps more so, when considering platform and architecture. Benefits such as shared services and processes, shared design and architecture patterns, and built-in integration capabilities. There are also huge cost savings, considering that the infrastructure is hosted and maintained outside of the enterprise, typically with lower costs and reduced downtime.

So, what does all mean to the rank-and-file enterprises that are using SaaS? It's really a matter of options. The current approach of housing all core business within the firewall is certainly the way things are now, but going forward, when it makes sense, some processes should move outside of the firewall. Moreover, the availability of new products, such as PaaS, provides us with the option to use remote platforms as well as outsourced processes. I suspect as time goes on, we'll see more processes and platforms moving to SaaS and PaaS, and that should reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Application integration and service oriented architecture expert David Linthicum heads the product development, implementation and strategy consulting firm The Linthicum Group. Write him at david@linthicumgroup.com.After my post last week on PaaS (Platform as a Service), I've been thinking more about PaaS and its relation to SaaS, and I figured I would back up a bit, and put things into context. I think we are moving in three clear directions. First, there's the movement from visual to service-based interfaces. Second, there's the movement to outsourced or virtualized business processes. Finally, there's the growing acceptance of on-demand platforms for applications, services, and now development and enterprise architecture.

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