On Monday evening I attended a G9+ round table at the French business school ESSEC Paris about Cloud and SaaS: “A revolution or just a good resolution?” The objectives were to clarify the Cloud jargon (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, Private Cloud etc.), to make an assessment on the current and future market and on SaaS practices.Providers such as Microsoft France (MS), Google, NEOCLES – the virtualization subsidiary of Orange Business Services (OBS), ESDI, BeezBox, Aragon-eRH intervened with end clients like Chronopost, ESSEC and Lyonnaise des eaux.The audience and I were offered a glimpse of the jargon definitions on the “Cloud” by Didier Krainc, the General Manager of IDC. He also presented the market situation and what it will soon come to worth (40 billion euros in 2013 in comparison to 9 at present). His presentation was short and very eloquent.Then we were given a purely commercial presentation of the “Cloud” offers of OBS (which is more focused on virtualization than on Cloud) and of MS (a range of general applications transposed into SaaS). ESDI stated the fact that software editors who have a business model based on license selling encounter great difficulties in turning to a business model based on selling individual products or based on time spent and, and worst of all, they must take this step as soon as possible because they haven’t foreseen it.My general impression was that the market is very promising but current offers are still far from the promises that everybody made more than a year ago:- The most complete offers are in IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): offering invoiced infrastructures based on the time spent or on the resources used. There are few PaaS offers, while the SaaS is not fully developed yet.- In terms of interoperability between “Clouds”, I am under the impression that we are going back to the end of the 1990s (Ethernet vs Token Ring): large suppliers prepare an offer based exclusively on their applications while the Cloud should allow us to choose the application that suits us best, whatever its editor may be.- As for the communication between the applications themselves: it will be easier and easier to “borrow” an application in order to accomplish a precise task, but nobody talked about the manner in which the information of this application will be transmitted to the next application in a simple and transparent way for the user.As nobody wants to have new silos which would again block us in our choices, we must pay attention to the structuring of the Cloud market.The round table on the SaaS was less about marketing and more end-user oriented, and focused on systems integrators. Luca S. Paderni (EMEA Google Enterprise), who intervened at this round table, didn’t talk much about his Cloud offers, as he considered that virtually everybody knew them (“we are a young company of 20,000 users”). Together with the other speakers, he presented the major changes generated by SaaS:- The profession of systems integrator is about to change irreversibly on the main vertical markets (HR, finance, marketing, commerce, administrative, logistic): if until now 35 consultants were needed for 2 years in order to install an ERP, from now on less than 10 will be needed for 3 months, and a large part of the work will be mainly carried out from a distance. The focus is no longer on infrastructure/technology, but on profession/competence (and security).- Innovation becomes accessible faster and faster: with SaaS we are no longer talking about software version, we are talking about functions to be accepted or not and to be implemented. Validation tests are becoming crucial, as the final validation is made directly in the production phase by the end users.- The CIO must now become more open and agree to help the business of their company go faster and further. They must facilitate exchanges within the company and monitor resources in order to invoice them internally according to the projects and the needs.The Cloud seems to reduce deadlines, which indicates once again the importance of communication between the different players and the relevancy of information. As far as I am concerned, I think that the company’s social network is part of the answer to this last point.See our Cloud offer on our website.
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