Software as a Service should be about Software, not data Dr. Manuel Breschi
On the enterprise side, visionaries like Marc Benioff understood far before others that this technological evolution would have allowed more and more software capabilities in time and that this would have freed companies from heavy stacks of on-premises enterprise software. The rest is history, as it has been the take over of the cloud paradigm of Salesforce.com against its first main rival, Siebel CRM, acquired by Oracle in 2005.
Not everyone might realize it, but the same Oracle founder, Larry Ellison, was a visionary and not because he was one of the first investors in Salesforce.com: I still remember the time I was attending University and this guy was telling the world that the era of PC was at the end, that in the future all we would have needed would have been a simple "light" machine with no internal drive and no OS, just an internet connection.
But as you can see, some visionaries succeed in their endeavour to bring innovation into the world and disrupt the status quo, some others don't.
Salesforce.com has been and is still a success in the enterprise ecosystem - with a concept that we give for granted nowadays, but that at the time Benioff started his venture was way too risky for all the others (and Salesforce.com was in fact a very limited application at that time).
The Net PC, Larry Ellison disruptive idea for a new PC-free world, was a total flop and never really saw the light. No one understood the vision... It was too disruptive and way too early for the Internet capabilities of that time to be understood by the mass. Even today that idea could be considered quite disruptive, as even tablets and smartphones nowadays (20 years later...) have local memory and an OS to install software on it. Think about it.
Nowadays we give so many things for granted, but I still remember when working with Salesforce.com back in 2006 (first time I was involved in a tentative to disrupt on-premise software with the cloud) was considered pure foolishness for many companies, above all in the Old Continent. Now it’s "cool" and many European companies as well have moved to the Cloud.
Why moving to the cloud? Reasons are quite obvious. As services for customization and development were starting moving outside corporations with the off-shore model, the same was happening with on-premise hardware and software deployments. Companies were tired of paying for costly infrastructure, hiring specialists or ad-hoc personnel to install enterprise software on their servers, not to mention maintaining those servers and their installations, together with strict SLAs that should have granted 99% uptime for the corporate users. Hosting services started growing and are nowadays quite widespread, so that not only we have SaaS, but also IaaS, PaaS, etc.. Meanwhile Oracle is massively shifting its entire business to the Cloud, at the extent of defining itself the “cloud company”. Right move? Wrong one? Surely it will depend on how they will approach the paradigm... and the market will be the final judge, as usual
So, happy ending, right? Everyone and everything will move to the Cloud and the world will be a better place...
Well... Not quite.
I could simply cite the recent case of Ashley Madison hack of data to shed a different light on the Cloudy business, but in the last years there have been so many cases of cloud data hacks that it should be quite obvious that security or privacy and cloud are not really compatible words.. let alone secrecy. At the end of the day, the World Wide Web has been designed to share information, not to segregate it from each other. Am I then suggesting that we should stop the Cloud technical evolution?Absolutely not: the Cloud is not the issue.. At the end of the day, as someone said, the Cloud does not even exist, only others’ machines (actually we once were used to call it simply the Internet).
The issue is that some corporations lied to you.
They lied when they told you that SaaS meant freeing you from the hassles of hardware, software installation and maintenance AND STORING YOUR DATA ON THEIR PREMISES. Wait a moment.. Since when Software as a Servicenecessary implies data storage as a service? Well, I don’t know, but no one thought about it too much in the process and as a matter of fact I don’t find anywhere DaaS, if not referring to desktop as a service, do you?
The concept of multi-tenancy itself was supposed to refer to a single version of an application being used for multiple customers (tenants), not sharing data schemas and tables... that is called saving money, if you ask me.
Quite a smart move, surely. Now that SaaS has been associated to Cloud, the concept that your data will be stored where the application resides is commonly accepted and no one is contesting it. That has been quite a good framing effect... and one that has allowed some corporations to get to store all your data, both personal and corporate one.
But does it have to be like this?
The real Cloud ecosystem will be the one that will allow you to have your software and the platform on which you can develop or customize your softwareas a service and you will be free to deploy it anywhere, not just on others’ premises. And the data? The real cloud will allow you to decide where to store it: maybe on the same platform where you developed your application, maybe on some third party service that will grant you some specific legal jurisdiction for data protection or, why not, on your own premises. That way you will be really able to decide and protect your data (the ultimate security tool - unplug the cable).
We need to think out-of-the-box and separate the application stack from the data one.
As far as I am concerned, we @ e-Up do things the way we think is right, for everyone, not because it’s cool or trendy. Our current flagship product, e-Tools, is a visual analysis and design software that allows you to yield the investment you did on Siebel years ago, by supporting its life-cycle, including support to identify issues and find solutions. But we know and value the importance of data and meta-data for corporations and that’s why we deliver ONLY the software as a service. Once you have launched the latest release from the cloud, you won’t need to install anything or apply patches, but the software will run on your local PC and that will be it. The connection to the local repository will be handled by you and you only and this means that our Cloud won’t have anything to do with your data or your meta-data. You are the owner of your data and it should stay like that. In the future, you won’t even need your Siebel repository any longer, just an access to your Siebel application. You don’t believe me? Well, enrol in our e-Tools V3 beta program and I will prove it to you. You will run e-Tools and then you can close your internet connection and work on your analysis and design as much as you like.
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So, what are you waiting for... wasn't the article long enough ?!