Cloud Computing – A Silver Lining

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Is it true that every cloud has a silver lining? What about cloud computing? I was reminded of the silver-lining adage recently when I noticed that several online news outlets had picked up this story from silicon.com – the thrust of which is that many companies still are not even aware of SaaS.

Sometimes we may lapse into thinking that we’re a bigger deal than we really are; and this forces us SaaS vendors to work that much harder to earn validation in the marketplace.

This article quotes statistics taken from a study conducted by BT (British Telecom), “One of the problems that we’ve unearthed in a survey that we did recently was about 81 per cent of customers we spoke to didn’t really know about software as a service…”

This quote was from Chris Lindsay from BT, who goes on to say, “It’s quite eye-opening really in terms of the lack of awareness but [also] the benefits are very clearly spelt out by the customers who have adopted the services…”

So the bad news is that 81% of companies (in the UK anyway) aren’t familiar with SaaS as a delivery model, but the good news is that, if they were familiar with it, they’d like it.

Unfortunately, several other online media outlets picked up this story and trumpeted it from the rooftops, using the somewhat sensational (and misleading) headlines such as, “Business Not Taking to SaaS”, “Businesses Still Clueless Over SaaS”, and “Businesses Still in the Dark About SaaS”.

What this tells me is that we – as an industry – still have a lot of work to do in order to get the word out on the SaaS delivery model in general. I think, too often, perhaps we forget that Silicon Valley doesn’t extend worldwide yet – in different parts of the world, the market penetration and mindshare that SaaS has claimed varies wildly depending on the geography you’re talking about.

Remember that the study in question was conducted in the UK, and there was some great news out of that region earlier this week, when TechWorld (billed as “The UK’s infrastructure and networking knowledge centre”) published this article that found a majority of companies planned “to adopt SaaS within five years.”

Neil Barton, director at Hostway, said: “Companies are certain that SaaS will make their application usage more c006Fst-effective because of the reduction in software management costs, and the ability to eliminate buying too many or too few software licenses.”

I agree with Jeff Kaplan of THINKstrategies who said, “I think (SaaS) adoption is far more advanced than is being readily reported.”

What SMBs are most concerned about is the functionality, Kaplan said. What they’re finding is it’s not just simpler and less expensive, it also adds a whole layer of application opportunity they couldn’t get from legacy apps.

“A lot are having a revelation.”

So perhaps that’s the silver lining to this particular cloud?

If not that, then perhaps the news yesterday that Symantec had agreed to buy MessageLab’s SaaS business unit for $695 million. Clearly, Symantec’s CEO John W. Thompson expects to make a major push into the SaaS market immediately. Reaction from industry media members was positive, as TheStreet.com and Forbes both published articles lauding the acquisition – one titled “Symantec Adds to Web-Software Arsenal”, and the other cleverly titled “Symantec Has Its Head in the Cloud”.

I think we’ve only seen the beginning of large companies looking to strategically make inroads into the SaaS/cloud-computing market. It makes too much sense to ignore, especially in these trying times.


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Cloud Computing – A Silver Lining

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