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Cloud: it's not all or nothing

There's a new maturity in the air at this year's All About The Cloud conference. The SaaS industry is at last learning to live with conventional installed software - and vice versa.
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Written by Phil Wainewright on

I'm at the opening session of All About The Cloud, the SaaS industry conference that results from the merger of OpSource's successful SaaS Summit with the Software and Information Industry Association's influential OnDemand event. Apart from DreamForce, this has now become the must-attend event on the SaaS industry conference calendar and provides an invaluable opportunity to get up to date with sentiment among SaaS and cloud vendors [disclosure: I'm a speaker at the event, paying my own way, and both OpSource and SIIA are past consulting clients].

From a sentiment perspective, the opening session has set an interesting tone, perhaps best summed up by Saugatuck Technology analyst and CEO Bill McNee, who has just completed a presentation on current market trends. His very first statement was that the world is not moving wholesale to the cloud — the cloud will co-exist with on-premises IT infrastructure for the foreseeable future.

"I don't like the word hybrid," he added. "We call it an interwoven world. The vast majority of the new money will go the cloud, but we'll build bridges between these two environments."

The opening keynote, by Intuit CTO Tayloe Stansbury, reinforced this message from a different perspective. "Likely you know us for boxes of software that people run on their desktops," he had begun by saying. He went on to discuss Intuit's early commitment to using the cloud to deliver services, beginning with the launch of the web version of TurboTax in 1999, and ran through the company's now vast catalog of online software and services. All of its SaaS lines, he revealed, amount to $1 billion in revenues, and the total revenues of what Intuit calls connected services — which adds to the SaaS total other important online services that don't fall into classic definitions of software such as merchant services and tax e-filing — come to $2 billion. "That accounts for about 60% of our company's revenue," he concluded (should someone tell Sage I wonder?).

So conventional software vendors are becoming cloud providers, while cloud providers are having to learn how to work in harmony with conventional IT infrastructure. Cloud is here to stay, but I sense a new maturity at this year's conference, which sees it taking its place within the evolving mainstream software industry. What does that mean for concepts like private cloud? Well that's the subject of the panel I'll be moderating tomorrow, so let me leave the answer to that question until then.

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