Cloud Computing – Costly Storm or Gentle Breeze?

It’s hard to read an article on the web these days without either “Cloud computing” or “Software as a Service” (SaaS to those in the know) being proffered as the answer to life, the universe and everything that is perceived to be a bottle neck in IT. It is true that there are many valid reasons why such offerings could, perhaps even should, be used but it is also accurate to mention that Cloud based systems are not yet taking the world by storm.

As the chart below illustrates, the accumulated costs associated with a SaaS solution when considered over a long period of time is seen be a major drawback by nearly forty percent of people who are not yet users such offerings whilst a similar number rate cost as a limiting factor in their considerations. This is clearly bad news for SaaS and Cloud providers who are keen to promote the subscription model of paying for service as a good fit for many organisations.

It is interesting to note that amongst organisations who do currently utilise SaaS solutions the rate of discontent is even higher with one in two calling the accumulated cost of service of long time periods as a major drawback and another forty percent giving it as a limiting factor. These results came from a range of UK organisations. large and small. In the survey larger organisations were far more likely to find the SaaS model of application service delivery to be acceptable than smaller businesses.

These perceptions pose a clear challenge to those offering Cloud computing and, especially, SaaS services. It is true that the customer has little in the way of maintenance and management operations to fund when using such systems but this does not automatically translate into cost savings visible on the statement of accounts. I find it interesting that non users state that data management and security come bottom of the list for non-users of SaaS systems, but still accounting for a hefty number of worries, but are the second biggest issue for active users. A hidden problem waiting to make waves or a non-issue? Probably much more likely to be the former rather than the latter, especially as using multiple vendors becomes the norm as I expect to happen. However, it is an issue that the vendors are finally beginning to address.

SaaS and Cloud computing will become mainstream, the only question is when, not if.

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