Cloudonomics and Calculating the Risk and Return of SaaS

The recent debate about the viability and value of cloud computing has generated at least one outstanding analysis from a friend at AT&T, that’s right AT&T!

Joe Weinman is the VP of Strategic Solutions Sales at AT&T Global Business Services. He published a terrific blog entry last week on GigaOM which was also distributed by BusinessWeek entitled, “The 10 Laws on Cloudonomics”.

I met Joe at a utility computing conference in NYC in 2004 where we both listened to a series of CIOs discuss how they were transforming their IT operations to achieve their business objectives.

What was facinating about their presentations was that they were not talking about hardware-based utility computing models that many vendors at the time, such as IBM and HP, were pushing. Instead, the CIOs from a number of major corporations and public agencies talked about how they were deploying Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

It was this event which propelled THINKstrategies to focus its energies on the SaaS market, along with the related area of managed services, and to create our two online directories–the SaaS and Managed Services Showplaces.

Joe’s commentary is timely because a series of Amazon and Google platform outages have raised a new round of questions about the costs and benefits of cloud computing, today’s term for the old idea of utility computing.

It is also relevant because there are still plenty of IT and business decision-makers who are trying to determine when it makes sense to adopt on-demand, SaaS solutions rather than continue to contend with traditional, on-premise software applications. This was the topic of my presentation yesterday at Serena Software’s TAG user conference.

The pivotal question for IT and business decision-makers considering SaaS and the growing array of cloud computing alternatives is the risk and return tradeoffs.

At what point do the benefits of quicker time to market, lower total cost of ownership and greater return on investment clearly outweigh the potential costs of service disruptions, loss of proprietary data, or limited customization capabilities?

Helping customers perform these cost-benefit analyses and SaaS/cloud computing vendors communicate the value of their on-demand solutions has become a 24/7 campaign for me.

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