Cloud-based services are all the rage. It seems like everyone and their sister is getting in on the action. The big plays include hosted SaaS (software as a service) applications such as Salesforce.com, Google Apps, and the forthcoming Microsoft Office 365, along with hyper-elastic application hosting environments such as Amazon EC2.
These services and a multitude of others like them have one common characteristic: They allow you to take an isolated chunk of your application infrastructure and move it off-premise, often at lower price point and with (hopefully) better reliability.
The next wave of cloud-based activity will center on ITaaS (IT as a service). Instead of seeking to host a single business function in the cloud, these offerings promise to absorb your entire server and storage infrastructure, while providing cost and reliability benefits similar to those of SaaS -- plus complete operating system and application support.
A "total cloud" solution might sound like science fiction to you, but I recently encountered two businesses that have gone the ITaaS route.
When you think about it, ITaaS is a logical extension of the SaaS model. Economies of scale dictate that a provider operating a thousand infrastructures can do so at lower cost and with greater reliability than you can. Similarly, the same elasticity and pay-as-you-go benefits that have made services such as Amazon EC2 so successful apply -- providing a powerful technology and business argument for total outsourcing.