New buzzword: IT-as-a-Service

In any major industry, like IT, life is constantly evolving, and new buzzwords come and go. Some make it. Some don’t. Some die. Some become part of that industry’s life.  Take “cloud computing”. Anyone in IT knows this term, and the cloud computing definitely appears to stay. Everyone needs it – the basic idea of outsourcing parts of IT, so that you can focus on your core business – the stuff that makes you the real money. Now, the evolution of cloud computing is how the different ways that businesses will leverage it, and how the major players will productize it. Everyone is learning on the fly – such is the life in IT and the business world.

From the learning in this cloud era, we’ve gained acronyms like: SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS. Believe it or not, if you look at Microsoft’s history, our cloud work started 15 years ago, but these terms did not become real until the last couple of years. And here’s a new term that I didn’t know: IT-as-a-Service. It’s not necessarily new (as you’ll see that I learned below) – but I didn’t have a current formal idea for this term so I thought I’d better take a look.

So, I did a search for “IT as a service”, and it was all over the place. A lot of folks mention it, but few define it. I must have missed a memo or training somewhere – because I didn’t have the definition. I even see vendors stretching the definition in order to get their service or product brought into the mix. Let me show a few that stood out to me.


Infrastructure 2.0 + Cloud + IT as a Service = An Architectural Parfait (9/15/2009)

The introduction of the newest member of the cloud computing buzzword family is “IT as a Service.” It is understandably causing some confusion because, after all, isn’t that just another way to describe “private cloud”? No, actually it isn’t. There’s a lot more to it than that, and it’s very applicable to both private and public models. Furthermore, equating “cloud computing” to “IT as a Service” does both a big a disservice as making synonyms of “Infrastructure 2.0” and “cloud computing.” These three [ concepts | models | technologies ] are highly intertwined and in some cases even interdependent, but they are not the same. In the simplest explanation possible: infrastructure 2.0 enables cloud computing which enables IT as a service…

Q&A: Delivering IT as a Service  (9/28/2009)

John Suit, CTO and principal founder of Fortisphere : IT as a service is a new way of approaching internal IT, bringing together the increasingly familiar relationship of service provider with the tight organizational link with the business. The characterization is shorthand for a number of changes that have been enabled by virtualized infrastructure, including the way technology resources are purchased, procured, provisioned, and managed over the course of the project. These changes include both the technology components and the change in organizational relationships that come along with them...

Is IT-as-a-Service the Culmination of Cloud Computing? (9/28/2009)

While they might not be the worst terms in cloud computing, phrases ending with "as-a-service" are certainly becoming more widespread. One of the latest: IT-as-a-service.

For those who fear that adoption of cloud technologies will mean the end of their IT jobs, it's probably not a welcome idea. For others, IT-as-a-service may be seen as just another way of saying "private cloud."

But as Lori MacVittie writes in an article on Dev Central [Jon notes that this is referring to the above article] , the idea of IT-as-a-service is too often conflated with a move to the cloud or with what she calls "Infrastructure 2.0." Rather, she argues that the latter two are requirements or building blocks for IT-as-a-service…

Bob Muglia: Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 (7/12/2010)

And from this past summer, Bob Muglia (President, Server & Tools Business, Microsoft) is doing the keynote and tells this story about delivering a presentation at a CIO event:

Then at one point one of the CIOs looked at me and pointed across the table, and he said, "Bob, you don't get it. We never want another upgrade from Microsoft again." Wow. That's our business. So, that's kind of a tough spot. He said, "No, look, we want the features, we love the function that you give us, but you put all the burden on us. You make us deploy all the infrastructure, you make us do all the work. We want this as a service. We want you to take that on."

And it was really at that moment that I got it, I got what cloud computing was all about.

Cloud computing is the transformation of the industry where we all work together, Microsoft and all of our partners, to deliver to our customers IT as a service, to enable them to focus on their business, to enable them to build applications like they could never build before, to not focus on running the infrastructure, essentially allowing every customer to have within their shop all of the best practices, all of the learning that exists across the industry. That's what cloud computing is. It's about delivering IT as a service that's optimized for everybody…

My Takeaways from This Exercise

  • “IT as a Service” provides customers the world's best infrastructure and allows them to focus strategically, and Microsoft can enable that.
  • Microsoft covers all layers of cloud computing (PaaS, IaaS, Saas). It’s a differentiator.
  • Our offerings span both the server and services platforms
  • We’re not just a major cloud vendor, but we’re also one of the major cloud customers too. From SaaS persective, think Windows Live, or the other Online services like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Dynamics CRM Online, etc – and how these companies business units rely on our PaaS offerings (Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Windows Azure AppFabric) and our IaaS offerings (Hyper-V, Forefront, Systems Center VM Manager). And obviously, all of this sits atop of our standard on-premise products like Windows Server, .NET, SQL Server, etc.
  • We offer a path from our server platform to our services platform
  • Our experience, breadth of offerings, and strong partner ecosystem are a big advantage that is untouched today by any competitor
  • We deliver a platform that delivers the cloud on the customers terms, another unique advantage.

I encourage you to visit the Microsoft Cloud Computing site and watch the video titled “01.01.1995”. It’s really impressive to see the history of Microsoft efforts, and the millions that each of the review products touched. I’d say we’re serious about cloud computing and enabling “IT as a Service” to our customers.