When most IT professionals talk about cloud computing, they are thinking about infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or maybe platform as a service (PaaS). What does not come to mind easily is that a huge percentage of IaaS is put to use to drive software as a service (SaaS) offerings, and SaaS itself is the largest part of the cloud market.
A report from Capgemini, brought to attention by David Linthicum in Infoworld, shows that the size of the cloud market grew from $17.4 billion in 2009 to $44.2 billion in 2013. An interesting fact is that the portion of the market SaaS occupies dropped from 69 to 58%, allegedly because of the growth of IaaS.
I don’t buy it. It is increasingly difficult to categorize an application as belonging to only a single bucket. Is it software as a service if it relies on several other clouds, or does that make it a hybrid cloud? What if it is sold as infrastructure as a service, but its management relies on software as a service? Is your content distribution network an infrastructure as a service offering or a software as a service offering? I don’t know, either.
The case that brought this to the front of my mind is Trend Micro’s Deep Security offering. It is so flexible that you can run its management console from your own private cloud, the public cloud, or have Trend Micro host it. It can manage security across physical servers, virtual machines, private clouds, and public clouds. You can have usage-based (ie: SaaS) billing, or you can do enterprise licensing.
You tell me – is that a SaaS offering? Is it IaaS? Whatever it is, it’s big, and growing, and it defies the simple SaaS/PaaS/IaaS hierarchy we all invented in 2006 to explain the work we’ve all been doing since the rise of colocation and Application Service Providers (ASPs) in 1997.
The right thing to do for your cloud strategy is to focus less on whether something is in one of those three categories. Instead, pay attention to how you’re going to manage it and how you’re going to pay for it. That will move you from tactical decisions to strategic planning and implementation.