By Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Ovum Software
Cloud computing is an increasingly multi-faceted phenomenon. It continues to quickly evolve not just at private and public cloud levels (and increasingly in the continuum between these two extremes) but also at infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS) levels.
In the Ovum report, 2013 Trends to Watch: Private and Public Clouds, Ovum advises that cloud service providers and consumers need to take into account the latest IaaS developments at network level, get their head around the PaaS market, and understand how – and to what extent – SaaS is evolving into business process-as-a-service (BPaaS).
IaaS is more competitive but bleeding edge at network level
The IaaS market has so far been dominated by VMware and AWS. Ovum expects Microsoft and Google to increasingly make a dent into this domination.
For all players, the network is the next IaaS frontier: increasingly important, but a growing headache. Network challenges associated with public or private cloud deployments top IT operations’ concerns so much so that 39% would rather get a root canal, dig a ditch, or do their own taxes than address these challenges, according to a 2012 Cisco survey of 1,300 participants worldwide.
This partly stems from the fact that networks are entering a period of extreme innovation and transformation. The three-tier hierarchy (access, aggregation, and core) of network architecture is going away in favor of flatter architectures; virtualised application software is replacing network appliances; and network infrastructure is becoming much more programmable.
All ICT vendors are working on making network resources fully manageable as part of a series of initiatives under the software-defined networking (SDN) banner.
There is no universally agreed definition of SDN. Ovum sees it as a descriptive term for a wide range of developing solutions that bring intelligence to the interaction between network services and network infrastructure in order to dynamically adapt a network to the needs of specific applications.
Vendors are bringing a broad range of innovative new network products to market under the SDN banner. It is too early to draw conclusions about which approach will win – there is too much innovation yet to happen, and vendors and their customers have yet to agree on a common agenda.
However, it is clear that SDN will drive future networks to be significantly more flexible, scalable, and intelligent than traditional approaches to networking. Overall, it will take at least five to ten years for both network and application design to deliver not just application-aware networking but also network-aware applications.
PaaS is the next kid on the cloud block
PaaS is today where cloud computing was in 2008/2009: poised for growth, subject to increasing hype, and expanding from an original focus on public clouds to private ones.
PaaS-washing is on the rise as an increasing number of vendors jump on the PaaS bandwagon with offerings that have little to do with what PaaS is. The PaaS market is very fluid and fast evolving. There are no heavyweights like VMware or AWS in PaaS, although Google and Microsoft have a good head-start.
PaaS is to become the platform of choice for fast development and delivery of greenfield applications. A July 2012 Engine Yard survey of 162 participants identified SaaS, mobile, commerce, and social applications as the top applications being run on top of PaaS offerings. Start-ups will increasingly focus on functional, geographical, and/or vertical PaaS niches.
In parallel, PaaS platforms will continue to evolve to cater for the requirements of enterprise developers and help them not just create new applications but also re-engineer legacy ones.
From SaaS to BPaaS
Two years ago, Ovum expected SaaS to evolve towards business process-as-a-service (BPaaS). The transition has already started.
For example, Oracle’s SaaS strategy does not focus on each discrete SaaS application in its portfolio. Instead, Oracle focuses on the integration of its SaaS offering into end-to-end processes such as the “B2C customer experience” process that integrates Oracle WebCenter Sites, Oracle Siebel Marketing, Oracle Endeca, Oracle ATG Commerce, Oracle Financials, Procurement, and Supply Chain, as well as Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service to achieve a consistent and personalized experience across all channels.
Oracle underpins its SaaS-to-BPaaS story with strong iPaaS capabilities. Indeed, iPaaS is to become a key ingredient of the SaaS-to-BPaaS transition.
Fujitsu’s SaaS/BPaaS strategy is one step ahead of Oracle’s at business and supply chain levels. At the business level, for example, Fujitsu aims to become a service broker that provides a marketplace of multiple end-to-end processes and sub-processes that are pre-integrated, or inherently able to be integrated, into a full business.
For example, this marketplace would provide an estate agent with the option to procure all the processes required (property promotion, property viewing scheduling, HR, payroll, and so on) to run its entire business.