Cloud Computing is slowing becoming a buzz-word in the Software Industry. So much has been said about the power of cloud computing and its ability to revolutionize the way we do business.
So what exactly is cloud computing? A very simplistic explanation would be internet based use of technology. Here the term cloud personifies internet as a medium to communicate and collaborate. This would allow companies and consumers to access applications over a connected network without the hassle of installation and maintenance.
Most people jump to conclusions that cloud computing is same as SaaS (Software as a Service Model). However SaaS is only a part of this larger concept. Cloud Computing includes three core aspects. These are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), SaaS and Internet based development (Platform as a Service).
IaaS typically provides the networking infrastructure and other hardware support to software developers and vendors. They can use these IaaS services to host their applications on the internet to their end users. This is a concept in the nascent stages, yet providers like Amazon, provide such computing services to their customers.
SaaS is a concept which has been in use for some time now. Vendors like Salesforce.com, Google and NetSuite use it in a big way, and it is slowly gaining popularity as an effective business model. The basic idea behind this concept is that customers can access software applications, on demand over the internet via a Web Browser. In this model, customers can subscribe to the software, instead of purchasing it. Hence they can pay for the period for which they use the software, most commonly on a pay per month basis.
PaaS is a concept where software developers can develop and host new software via the internet, without having to purchase new hardware or software. Microsoft Azure and Google Apps, are some of the popular PaaS providers.
Seeing a rise in popularity of this concept, major software vendors like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, each are working on devising key strategies for the same. Currently vendors like SAP and Microsoft have a combined share of thirteen percent in the Indian SaaS market, with Webex and Salesforce leading the roost. There is a general trend of SMEs adopting much faster to a model like this as compared to larger corporations.
It seems traditional on-premise application providers have shown some resent toward this increasing buzz and adoption towards the cloud hype. In fact Oracle CEO Larry Ellison states that the IT industry is more fashion driven and begins to associate everything to a cloud, in a sarcastic statement to the press. Yet, Oracle has its own strategy to counter cloud computing. Its CRM on-demand tool is slowly gaining popularity among the industry.
SAP is not far behind when it comes to cloud adoption. It has taken a hybrid approach to integrate the on-premise and on-demand models to ensure unison and integrity among enterprise applications. SAP BusinessObjects is an on-demand solution to cater to the diverse needs of small and medium sized enterprises.
There are still some risk factors and apprehensions to a complete shift to the cloud. In fact, SAP’s former CEO Leo Apotheker had said, that a large company cannot put everything on the cloud, as the cloud would collapse. John Wookey who is now in charge of SAP’s on-demand strategy, is working on new strategies to counter the hype of cloud computing.
How will businesses, software companies adapt to the changing trends in the software industry is something to look for in the near future. But from the looks of it, cloud computing is definitely something that is here to stay.