I’ve had recent conversations with some service providers, mainly those that offer telecommunications services but are also offering data hosting and other typical outsourcing services. All of them are expanding their portfolios to include the up-and-coming services, including infrastructure-as-a-service, vitualization, and ultimately cloud-based.
These services are enabling service providers to, in effect, create new business models around cloud computing. The services are all designed to let customers provision capacity, such as a virtual server, as needed. You know, self-service services that really are available when and where customers need them. One provider told me their plan is to offer a service that lets customers literally fire up a virtual server replete with apps by pushing a button (or icon) on a Web site. The idea is in the early stages of planning, so details were scant, but I envision it as being much like a dashboard from which IT folks could provision new services for their company just by clicking an icon on a Web page.
Anyway, I read with interest this recent article on the XML Journal. The article is written by Marty Gauvin, founder, president and CEO of Virtual Ark, and is about what Gauvin says is 3G-SaaS – third-generation Software-as-a-Service that basically combines outsourcing, cloud computing and application management. Virtual Ark, by the way, is a managed service provider focused on providing this next-gen outsourcing model.
Anyway, Gauvin writes about how 3G-SaaS uses the on-demand flexibility of cloud infrastructure services to deliver pay-as-you-go enterprise applications. But instead of picking and choosing different pay-as-you-go apps from different providers, you can turn to an outsourcing provider that will offer you a smorgasbord of pay-as-you-go apps. That’s in essence what Virtual Ark does, which opened its doors in July 2009. Current Virtual Ark partners include Grid Dynamics, Ingres, TechnologyOne, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Rackspace. Virtual Ark is aiming at the enterprise market, and says it is partnering with independent software vendors to enable their apps to run in a SaaS and cloud-computing model. Virtual Ark also says it working with the ISVs to align licensing fees with application consumption, and that customers can choose to have no minimum contract term obligation.
The model is pretty interesting, if you ask me. And I expect we’ll continue to see even more interesting outsourcing models emerge as cloud computing takes hold and becomes a more trusted part of enterprise business’ strategic IT initiatives.
What do you think, readers? Have you seen or heard of any outsourcing companies starting to offer some interesting new business models and services around cloud computing?