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The Great *aaS Grab – Early Wins for Enterprises in the Cloud

An Oldie, But a Goodie

Sure, “cloud” has rubber-band-balled into meaning all sorts of *aaS’s. This happens to successful technology ideas. Along those lines, it’s worth using IBM’s announcement today about providing Lotus Notes as a SaaS (at first glance, it looks like a good move by those guys) offering as an excuse to detail a few potential low-hanging fruits for moving IT to “the cloud”:

Email and Calendaring

Clearly, hosting your own email is close to insanity now-a-days. Sure, there all sorts of privacy, regulation, and “make sure we can destroy the email before The Lawyers can get to it” hurdles to moving your email into the cloud. But, you have to think that those risks, even for the most paranoid, have to be slowly melting away compared to the cost savings.

I am no risk manager, but if your running your own email, calendaring, IM, and communications applications behind-the-firewall, it’s worth figuring out if you really need to. First up is always the question of uptime, most critical for this assessment is knowing the uptime of your own, internal mail servers to compare against the perceptions of hosted email.

Email archiving is another thing worth looking into.

Currently, companies tend to offer these to small and medium businesses because, one would assume those customers are less demanding in the sales process (cost less to acquire), in higher volume, and don’t have the Precious Data hang-ups that enterprises do. Dell seems to be up to interesting things here, as do others.

Backup and Storage

Part of Rackspace’s announcement yesterday clearly marked an entry into that companies desire to provide storage in the cloud. Amazon S3 does this in it’s own (now familiar but still) weird way, and EMC seems to have been doing well here.

Offsite backup simply means you upload all those backups you should be doing (but probably aren’t) to some distant server. Of course, you need software that’s smart enough to just send the new stuff instead of copying your hard-drive every single time. Numerous companies, esp. of “enterprise-grade” have such software laying around. These vendors would be wise to “simply” add in the option to save backups to Amazon S3, to Rackspace, or to where ever. For those companies, there’s an instance “what are you doing with SaaS?” win, features customer would like to pay for, and nice partnerships and channeling. All of that is a perfect match for the way most big enterprise vendors like to operate, esp. our friends up in Armonk.


A (large) company is only as efficient as it’s internal bureaucracies, which runs off paper-work, rules, and, now, intranets. There are numerous internal applications, forms, and the kudzu of SharePoint running around that seem ripe for shifting off to a locked-down cloud. Better, for the enterprise cultural barrier of Precious Data hoarding: as I joked yesterday, that list of official company holidays isn’t really a trade secret.

Here, we have virtualization consolidation efforts laying the ground-work for us. If you’re already wrapping up those whacky intranet applications into a virtual machine on your own hardware, why not think about just running them off in the cloud somewhere. Of course, there’s the question of controlling access, single-sign on, and more. But, hey, that’s what technology is for.

The Hurdles of Trust and Comfort


The question for larger companies, then, is if they’re ready to trust putting their email, files, intranets, and other Precious Data “out there.” This same question of trust existing for online retailing in the mid-90’s, open source in the late 90’s and early 00’s, and now the question of trust if focused on *aaS computing. The drivers are the same in all three cases: cost and flexibility. At some point, if those two get luscious enough, any other consideration goes out the window.

Disclosure: Our friend in Armonk are clients, as are Microsoft and Dell.

Categories: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Ideas, Marketing.

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2 Responses

  1. There's also an elephant in the room..

    Would you trust your cloud provider to abide by HIPPA standards with your health records? What if you had regulatory requirements to audit any and all access to certain pieces of data.

    Who pays the fines if there's a regulatory violation?

    This are all interesting questions I haven't seen talked about or worked through yet for enterprise grade cloud adoption.

  2. Yes, you're absolutly right. It seems like much of the hurdles come down to lawyers now instead of technology, not all, but much for sure.