5 posts • joined 27 Aug 2009
I like this analysis. It's an analogy I hadn't considered before, but it really does help to explain some commonly encountered attitudes and behaviour. Nice one.
That hurts, really hurts (from the author)
Seriously, me, accused of being a cloud advocate :-)
A quick Google search on the author name and the word 'cloud' should put this latest article into perspective - I mostly get accused of being a cloud sceptic for not accepting all the rhetoric from the evangelists in this area.
However, I am not really a sceptic but a realist, and those who make generalised negative claims are as bad as the cloud marketeers in my book.
The point I am trying to make here is that lot's of people are bashing SaaS providers indiscriminately on the whole security thing, when at the same time they are telling us (though surveys on this site and other research) that their own on premise solutions are far from perfect, and their user bases (for various reasons) are a bit of a liability. Against this background, a good SaaS service could actually improve things. Does that mean I am saying go out and do the SaaS thing to solve all of your security problems? Of course not, but it's equally ludicrous to say don't consider anything SaaS because you are bound to run into security problems.
Look, like it not, SaaS is here to stay, and its use is growing. Right now, a big part of my day job is encouraging people to think and do proper due diligence before diving in because the positive coverage far outweighs the negative stuff across the industry, and it's too easy to get sucked in. In the interests of objectivity, though, we also need to call it when people are put off considering SaaS (or any IT delivery option, for that matter) because the risks have been exaggerated.
And please don't leap on this as me saying that security concerns with SaaS are totally Ill-founded, but there is a lot of generalisation, misinformation and frequently encountered lack of perspective that does tend to exaggerate the issues.
@zef re MS sponsorship
It's probably worth nothing that there is a big difference between 'sponsored by' and 'commissioned by', and the former applies here. The content of the paper is derived from formal research and the two authors (Tony Lock and me) developing and fine tuning the analysis through presentations and workshops at various IT management and architect gatherings. In order to pay the bills and fund the work of writing papers, we invite sponsorship, and we make no secret of that. The model is no different to Formula One teams receiving funding in return for sponsor logos appearing on their cars.
Hey Tony, you know that makes us the equivalent of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button :-)
Alright, so there is a limit how far we can take that analogy :-)
Seriously, the paper was conceived long before MS became involved, and while I would expect anyone working for a SaaS or cloud hosting pure-play to disagree with our our more balanced analysis because of their vested interest in bigging up the revolutionary approach, we have so far had no push back from people actually working in mainstream IT departments.
But let us know if there is anything you disagree with or anything obvious we have missed. The process of analysis is an ongoing one and is dependent on critical input.
Thinking about pivot points
It's still early days, but looking to the future, we are probably going to see a blend of delivery models for desktop computing, whether in a home or business environment. This isn't about devices, indeed it is more about device independence. Microsoft is investing a lot in this area at the moment while Apple, at least looking in from the outside, seems to be going in the opposite direction - more emphasis on devices and locking devices to specific software and services. As of today, the device appears to be the pivot point for market leverage, but I doubt this is sustainable over the longer term.
The big question is going to be where the pivot point shifts to. You could argue that it moves to the content layer, which would also play to Apple's strengths. My feeling though is that content sources will continue to proliferate so the concept of a desktop, or 'virtual home', that holds the ongoing context for your online and other activities might become the point of influence and stickiness. Right now, the Windows client machine fulfils this for the majority of users, though youngsters could be considered to be using services like Facebook for this.
Whether the virtual desktop is something that will help Microsoft in the battle against Apple in the consumer space is debatable, but the fact that Apple appears to be working in conflict with longer term trends towards open virtualised environments in a business context could be significant.
A more balanced view based on Reg reader research
If you want a more balanced and practical view of where and how Desktop Linux might be relevant based on feedback from Reg readers with actual experience, go here:
Basically, the conclusion of this research was that Linux on the desktop is unlikely to be suitable for all types of user, but for organisations who do wish to explore a selectively deployed alternative to the traditional Windows desktop, there are some scenarios in which Linux can make sense.
We were keen to conduct this research and produce the report because organisations like the the FSF and the fanatics and evangelists that push Linux in your face as the answer to everything actually put normal IT professionals off considering it, meaning many of those that could possibly benefit never even seriously consider Linux as an option. To put it another way, desktop Linux is ironically often damned by its association with the people that so religiously promote it.