Get off my cloud

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Cloud computing has been one of the big success stories in the supply chain software world over the past couple of years. But while it might seem that the bandwagon is unstoppable, a note of warning has been sounded by IT research group Gartner, specifically regarding the growth of software as a service.

Gartner reckons that saas will have a role in the future of IT, but not the dominant future that was first thought. David Cearley, vice president and fellow at Gartner, says: “In 2009, within enterprise applications, saas represented 3.4 per cent of total enterprise spending, slightly up from 2008 at 2.8 per cent.”

And it warns that many of the bad practices, such a “shelfware” that occurred in the on-premises world are now moving into saas. “Shelfware as a service is the concept of paying for a software subscription that is not being accessed by an end user,” says Cearley. “This most commonly occurs in large organisations, but it could happen to any company, especially those that have downsized their workforce, or one that has oversubscribed to trigger a volume discount.”

Gartner said that saas is likely to penetrate every company at one level or another and suggests four steps in evaluating saas. First companies need to evaluate and understand the trade-offs that saas presents. The next step is to develop a saas policy and governance document.

Thirdly, saas vendors should be evaluated for specific application needs as applicable. The final step is a continuous process of developing an integration road map on how saas applications will integrate with applications.

These are all sensible suggestions and organisations should think hard about the impact of going down the saas route.

And, of course, there are still concerns over whether saas can deal with very high numbers of transactions – particularly at those times of day when the whole world wants to get onto Facebook.

But there are real benefits to software as a service and it would be a mistake to ignore the possibilities.

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