by Richard Sykes

Platform arrivals

Apr 24, 20124 mins
Cloud ComputingIT StrategyMobile Apps

In last month’s column, The integration game, I wrote about the emerging era of services integration and platforms in the cloud.

I detailed SaaSinsure, a new play in the insurance markets, based on the integration of services drawn from two underlying platforms: the Amazon Elastic Cloud and Salesforce.

It is a year since Forrester published market forecasts through to 2020 for the public cloud.

The insight offered was that, once the initial strong growth in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) provided sufficient underlying capability, the sustained growth would be in Software as a Service (SaaS).

Thus a 2010 IaaS market of $1bn (£614m) and a PaaS market worth $0.3bn (£184m) were forecast to surge to $5.8bn (£3.56bn) and $9.8bn (£6bn) respectively by 2015, leveling out to $4.8bn (£2.94bn) and $11.9bn (£6.76bn) by 2020.

The SaaS market was set to grow from $13.4bn (£8.23bn) in 2010 to $78.4bn (£48.2bn) by 2015, powering on to $132.6bn (£81.5bn) in 2020.

Hardly surprising really. With platforms in place, the door is open for a myriad innovative ventures to create and deliver a variety of new services tuned to a diversity of market opportunities.

A window on this fast-growing world of technology-enabled business services is provided by a new report released by Intellect’s SaaS group led by David Terrar of cloud services vendor D2C.

Intellect is the UK business association for the IT, telecoms and electronics industries, and its SaaS group brings together small- to medium-sized vendors active in the SaaS space.

In 2009 it published Business case for Software as a Service, which has been followed by a set of 10 client case studies.

Taken together, the two reports provide an analytical and insightful approach to understanding how and why the SaaS market is developing so fast.

In this context, one key thread links this month’s column with last month’s, which is the importance of the platform.

Forrester’s forecasts may suggest that the size of the platform market will ultimately be less impressive that the size of the SaaS market, but remember it is the platform that enables the SaaS.

An insight therefore for 2012: in this fast developing world of services sourced from the cloud and based, in turn, on the integration of services enabled by platforms, it is the platforms that take centre stage in delivering the assurance of key aspects of the services performance.

Security? Primarily delivered at the platform. Continuity and backup? Delivered at the platform. Key technology standards? Again, the platform rules, OK?

The enterprise sourcing virtual services is in practice sourcing an integration of a series of SaaS as virtual services value chains.

It will be to the operation of the underlying platforms that the enterprise will look to ensure delivery of the required business assurances in security, data management, risk management, privacy protection, continuity management, regulatory and legal compliance.

Here is an extensive new agenda that I sense is only now starting to be properly articulated and addressed.

It calls for innovation in the essentially autonomous and automatic operation of platforms and their supporting infrastructural (compute and network) services.

Consider Red Lambda, whose executive chairman and CEO, Bahram Yusefzadeh, I met recently.

Its offer is a new SIEM (Security, Information and Event Management) product with a CEP (Complex Event Processing) engine at its front end.

It multi-processes in real time a wide range of compute and network operational data from sensors and logs, and identifies those unexpected (generally unforecastable) discontinuities that indicate hacks and other security failures.

Here is the potential for a powerful security cordon that can be thrown around the full integrated operations of a platform, from its computing through to its integral networks, alert in real time to any new security challenge, but without threatening data privacy or key IP.

Red Lambda is winning major US commercial clients as well as support in US government security circles.

I am not technically expert enough to judge if its current growth will ultimately result in it crossing the chasm.

I read it as a strong example of the innovative technological and business thinking that is required to underwrite the assurance dimension of the platforms, and if Forrester’s forecasts for SaaS markets are to be delivered, so must the means to deliver fully business-assured platforms.