Over the decades, the IT industry has delivered a steady stream of technology and go-to-market concepts and associated terminology, e.g. Utility Computing, Cloud Computing, Pay-by-the-Drip, Managed Services, Consumption-based-licensing, XaaS / … / YouNameIt-aaS, etc etc.
Let’s not try to peel the proverbial onion and negotiate complex definitions for each of these concepts. Instead, let’s just take a step back and agree that all these terms, in one way or another, indicate a lasting desire by IT consumers to consume various aspects of IT as, well, a service. From there, I propose that the nuclear set of ideas behind the “service” desire is that:
- The Consumer does not buy equipment, but a Service that does something useful for the Consumer – whatever that may be;
- The Service is presumably agile, meaning that it may be started, suspended, cancelled, increased, or decreased, as desired by the Consumer;
- The “quality” of the Service is negotiated, meaning that the Consumer has a crisp understanding what to expect;
- The Service is monitored, meaning that the Consumer has some indication whether the Service actually delivers as expected;
- The Service is metered, meaning that the Consumer has some indication of how much of the Service s/he has consumed, maybe over some unit of time;
In short, instead of building a facility, purchasing equipment, integrating disparate systems and hiring professionals to “make it all work”, the Consumer wishes to swipe a credit card, flip the proverbial switch, and enjoy the “quality” provided by the Service.
A short digression: if you’re reading this blog entry with an IT-centric (or even storage-centric) mindset, think again – the list above is equally applicable to your internet provider, cable TV, household gas supplier, or even the contractors that run office buildings. Real-world examples of services are richly abundant, and IT professionals should recognize them as thriving models as we steer our way towards the service-oriented future.
It may be that the Consumer’s motivation is simply convenience, but I’d like to propose that the Service has some very discernible attractions, though maybe not in the following order of priority:
- The Service focuses on WHAT the Consumer gets, conveniently obscuring the tedious intricacies of HOW the Service is constructed, or actually operates;
- The Consumer need not spend up-front cash on facilities, equipment and professionals, when s/he can directly purchase what really matters, i.e. what the Service delivers;
- Need more or less Service? Not happy with the Service? Want a cheaper Service? No need to re-calibrate said facilities, equipment and professionals each time a Service change is needed;
- What is this going to cost? Much easier to predict with a Service, rather than owning and managing your own facilities, equipment and professionals …
On closer inspection, it may appear that I am strongly advocating a “Services” way of life for everything and everyone, but that is not necessarily so. Metaphorically, if your house is far from any urban area, you may need to build your own energy production.; If you do not like any of the existing cable TV packages, you may negotiate something special and unique., If no available internet Service offers the bandwidth you need, it may necessitate building your own DWDM network. There are always exceptions. However you slice and dice it, there will always be valid reasons to build something special.
Still the trends are showing that for most of what most of us need, there may already be a suitable Service.
**Next Month: Peeling the proverbial onion: towards IT- and Storage-as-a-Service.