The two primary forms of public cloud computing, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), are both growing dramatically in popularity. Over the last few years, the primary focus of the IaaS providers has been on offering the basic compute and storage resources required to run applications.
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The primary focus of SaaS providers has been on offering enterprise applications such as CRM and ERP, as well as on offering communications and collaboration solutions.
Recently, cloud service providers have begun offering a new class of solutions, which have historically been provided by the IT infrastructure group. In addition to the communications and collaboration, this includes network and application optimization, security, management, and virtualized desktops.
We're calling this new class of solutions Cloud Networking Services (CNS). The introduction of CNS presents the IT infrastructure group with a new challenge. That challenge is to determine which of the traditional IT services it should continue to provide itself, which ones it should acquire from a CNS provider and which should be provided as a hybrid solution.
CNS as infrastructure solutions
One could argue that at least some CNS solutions fall into the SaaS category and that some others are IaaS. While technology is one way to classify CNS solutions, a more compelling way is to look at how the typical IT organization is structured.
Most IT organizations have an applications organization whose primary role is to develop, acquire and maintain enterprise applications such as CRM, ERP and supply chain management.
Most IT organizations also have an infrastructure organization whose primary role is to provide, manage, secure and optimize the networks and servers that support these apps.
In almost all cases, services such as voice, collaboration, disaster recovery, management, security, optimization and virtual desktops are provided by the infrastructure organization - not the applications organization.
Based on the way that IT organizations are typically structured, CNS solutions should be considered to be the next wave of IaaS solutions.
Evaluating CNS solutions
As part of evaluating these solutions, IT organizations need to determine if the solution has eliminated, or at least minimized, the negative aspects of a public cloud solution. (See Tech debate: public vs. private cloud.)
Concerns about security are the primary impediment to the adoption of public cloud. Thus, evaluating the security of the CNS provider's facilities is a critical component of evaluating a CNS solution.