But SaaS -- in fact, all of the cloud -- suffers from a number drawbacks. Businesspeople may be sick of waiting for IT, but the prospect of users subscribing to whatever SaaS applications they want sets off alarms for both IT and business management. How do you control the spend? How do you keep company data from being exposed accidentally? When employees leave, how do you even know what they've subscribed to so that you can shut down access?
But the genie is already at least halfway out of the bottle. We're at the point when just about every company of significant size has fired up an IaaS account for dev and test or contracted with a SaaS provider because it made more sense than deploying a certain app on premises or filing some detailed request to the ops guys in the data center.
The slow ascent of the private cloud Basically, private cloud software is a management stack you deploy on top of a virtualized infrastructure. Today, the main private cloud objective is to manage large virtual server farms with an agility that was once exclusive to public cloud providers.
But the private cloud's virtualization management extends to storage as well as network virtualization, the latter a cutting-edge area that enables administrators to deploy multiple, secure virtual networks on top of a single physical network infrastructure.
Part of what all this technology is intended to enable is self-service, so that business stakeholders can provision their own applications and resources. Another important component is chargeback: With pooled resources, you need a way to allocate costs throughout the organization.
The biggest deal in the private cloud this year was clearly OpenStack, an open source "cloud operating system" built on the collaborative work of NASA and public cloud provider Rackspace. OpenStack has tremendous community momentum, plus the support of key vendors, including Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, and Red Hat. That's impressive for a project whose first release was in late 2010.
Yet today, few enterprise customers are attempting to deploy OpenStack in a production environment.