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Transformation from ASP to SaaS and now to the Cloud
January 5 2011 - 11:32 am ET | Ronald J. Angner, PhD, SVP and Principal OSS/BSS and Operational Excellence Practice Lead, TMNG Global | RCR Wireless News
Ronald J. Angner, PhD, SVP and Principal OSS/BSS and Operational Excellence Practice Lead, TMNG Global
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“… a cloud of mystery surrounds the new ASP business concept,” --Intellisoft, 1990
Today, the “clouds of mystery” are clearer than they were 20 years ago, when the concept of an Application Service Provider was created. Later, ASP was eclipsed by Software as a Service (SaaS), and today we have SaaS applications delivered from the cloud. The proliferation of the Internet and widespread broadband availability have transformed the way businesses think about software applications and computing services. To say that the stars are aligned for cloud-based services may be stretching the metaphor. However, it is accurate to say that the economics, technologies, vendors, networks, open source protocols, diverse computing landscapes and customer requirements for control, on-demand applications and computing resources have now aligned to enable cloud-based services to be successful in a way that ASP could never have been in the 1990’s.
While many people will argue that the concept of the “cloud” began long before the 1990’s, it was ASP that set us on the right path to on-demand services. It is useful to review the evolution of application delivery from ASP, to SaaS, and now to the cloud.
ASP is a Web-based, hosted version of a software application residing at an outsourced data center with separate servers and separate, or “single-tenant,” databases running on hardware dedicated to one client and hosted by a third party vendor. ASP is an on-demand model allowing companies access to their applications as needed.
There were many advantages to the ASP model in terms of secure dedicated servers and the freedom to customize. But the dedicated hardware and software were costly to end users, and it was difficult to remain current with advances in technology without incurring additional costs.
SaaS is also a Web-based, hosted version of software applications residing at an outsourced data center, but the equipment and architecture is 100% shared among clients and is maintained by the third party vendor. SaaS typically provides a single application, but can also provide multiple applications, albeit around a single core offering, such as CRM.
The economic advantages of this model were, and continue to be, lower costs to the end user because the equipment is shared and hosted by the third party vendor; greater stability and scalability because the vendors maintain their own servers to meet customer demands; and more frequent software upgrades because the vendor has the economies of scale to do this for many customers.
Even though there is still some confusion over the differences between ASP, SaaS and the cloud, applications and resources delivered in a cloud environment offer many advantages. At the very least, applications and resources are delivered and run on shared equipment housed at cloud computing centers on huge enterprise servers. Multi-tenant databases with storage area networks enable infinite scalability, rapid deployment, faster innovation cycles and reduced costs. And, by utilizing cloud resources, software vendors do not have to purchase expensive hardware and technology upgrades, allowing them to offer their software applications to the end user much faster and at a lower cost.
The evolution from ASP, to SaaS, to the cloud offers many economic benefits to software vendors and end users alike. We see significant trends in the industry that will continue to drive the demand for cloud utilization:
--The economic downturn and increasing costs of hardware, databases and staffing have encouraged IT departments to reduce capital and operational expenditures and seek less costly solutions to their IT requirements that outsourcing to the cloud would provide.
--The need for massive “on-demand, pay-as-you-go” quantities of computing resources (storage and processing power) will continue to grow with new fixed and mobile data intensive applications.
--Multinational giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. have paved the way for (and forced other companies such as communications providers to adopt) new cloud-computing, pay-as-you-go and on-demand business models.
--The ubiquity of Internet and broadband networks enables unprecedented availability of bandwidth for increasingly data-intensive applications.
--LTE and other 4G technologies are offering mobile users streaming video for mobile TV or mobile gaming, which would not be possible without the data storage available on demand through the cloud. As one example: Ubitus, founded only three years ago and having just 100 employees, announced its Docomo high-end game at the end of 2010 in which all the heavy data is processed on cloud servers providing optimized graphics to be played on mobile phones, tablets or other connected devices.
--Competition is giving rise to numerous creative and entrepreneurial applications. The once homogeneous IT landscape dominated by Microsoft Corp. is being challenged by Dell Inc., Google and many other companies.
These activities are being financed and brought to market because the economic uplift is enormous. Evolving technologies, broadband networks, LTE, competition and the ever demanding customer are all factors, many of which did not exist when ASP was created. ASP set us on the right path to on-demand services and SaaS set us on the right path to
on-demand applications. Today, the cloud delivers both applications and computing resources in on-demand, pay-as-you-go scenarios never before possible, but now being enabled by cloud centers around the world utilizing the most advanced storage and processing capabilities. While many challenges remain, such as security, standards and service level agreements, we can see the tremendous opportunity that the cloud offers. So perhaps the stars are aligned after all.
Ron leads the Sales Support & Delivery team at TMNG Global. In this capacity, he serves as General Manager of the TMNG OSS/BSS practice and is TMNG’s senior Operations Executive. Ron has over 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and possesses hands-on operational and management experience in nearly every discipline within the industry including, strategy, marketing, network planning, product/service design and implementation, customer premises equipment servicing strategy, billing and customer care.
Prior to TMNG Global, Ron held executive and director-level positions at Lucent, Bell Labs, AT&T and CSG Systems, and was managing director for several international operations in Europe. During Ron’s tenure at Bell Labs, he gained significant experience in the specification, design, development, and deployment of OSS/BSS platforms. He was also managing director for several international operations in Europe. At AT&T, Ron served as AT&T’s Chief Architect for the Long Distance and Special/Services networks.
These experiences have led Ron to success at TMNG Global where he has managed the development of the TMNG MVNE platform, including the OSS/BSS architecture, partner interfaces and the control framework and dashboards; led an OSS/BSS integration for two leading competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs); and managed multiple revenue assurance engagements.