More on SaaS and Virtualization - InformationWeek
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7/9/2007
09:46 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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More on SaaS and Virtualization

Virtualization has been a hot topic as corporate America seeks to do things faster, better and cheaper. Lately, I've been getting a lot of cross links with SaaS, so perhaps it's time to drill down on this topic a bit... We are moving to a world where computing resources and applications all will be virtual, and organizations will be formed around network access rather than data centers.

Virtualization has been a hot topic for the last few years as corporate America seeks to do things faster, better, and cheaper. Lately, I've been getting a lot of cross links with SaaS, so perhaps it's time to drill down on this topic a bit.

According to Wikipedia, "Virtualization is a broad term that refers to the abstraction of computer resources. One useful definition is 'a technique for hiding the physical characteristics of computing resources from the way in which other systems, applications, or end users interact with those resources. This includes making a single physical resource (such as a server, an operating system, an application, or storage device) appear to function as multiple logical resources; or it can include making multiple physical resources (such as storage devices or servers) appear as a single logical resource.'"Actually, there are two types of virtualization; platform and resource. Platform virtualization involves the simulation of virtual machines for use by remote resources. Resource virtualization is the simulation of combined, fragmented, or simplified resources.

Clearly, SaaS is an application instance of virtualization, but the two worlds have not been linked as concepts. Today, however, we are seeing some good work done in defining the value of SaaS and virtualization. For example, Ilya Baimetov has done in good job in listing his 10 tenets of SaaS and has linked them to better understand why virtualization plays an important role in the SaaS world.

According to Baimetov, "virtualization brings very significant benefits to the SaaS world. Virtualization gives ISVs an easy migration path to SaaS without having to give up the flexibility of 'dedicated' design. At the same time, virtualization allows service providers to make their hosting infrastructure very flexible yet very efficient."

He concludes that the benefits of virtualization and SaaS are so significant, that, in his opinion, no SaaS provider will be able to be competitive without using virtualization.

Indeed, as I've been saying time and time again, we are moving slowly but surely to a world where computing resources and applications all will be virtual, and organizations will be formed around network access rather than data centers. Those organizations that are forward thinking have already moved in that direction, while the rest are waiting for others to test the water.

This does not mean that virtualization is not without its problems. Clearly, it's going to take a while for enterprise architects to become comfortable with the idea and to learn how to implement both virtualization and SaaS effectively. Like anything else, it's going to take planning and a good migration story to pull this off. However, those who make the move will find that their architecture and business is much more agile and cost effective. Thus efficiencies gained around supporting the business will be the core business case for both virtualization and SaaS.

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.Virtualization has been a hot topic as corporate America seeks to do things faster, better and cheaper. Lately, I've been getting a lot of cross links with SaaS, so perhaps it's time to drill down on this topic a bit... We are moving to a world where computing resources and applications all will be virtual, and organizations will be formed around network access rather than data centers.

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