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software as a service
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  hews an GOOGLE APPS STIRSGOVERNM THE FAST GROWTH OF SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE IN THEPUBLIC SECTOR IS DISP17\CING STALWARTS LIKE IBM SLOTUS NOTES,  RODNEY GEDD OBSERVES. ã During the past decade, enterprises andgovernment agencies have progressivelyadopted software as a service (SaaS) as analternative delivery model to softwareapplications deployed and managed on-premise since the days of the mainframe.This year, more tangible evidence issurfacing that will force government ITdecision makers to take a closer look atSaaS as a viable option. Nowadays the term cloud hassteamroUed its way into meaning anythingremotely resembling  IT  delivered by aservice provider in an on-demand fashion.For software, however, the concept of  aa - software delivered by a third-partyover the internet and billed as an OPEX - remains unchanged amid all the hypeabout cloud.And one of the best examples of howdisruptive the SaaS delivery mode can be is demonstrated by the application we alllove to hate - e-mail. Microsoft Exchange;IBM Lotus Notes; Novell Group Wise;what s your poison?For more than one in five Australianenterprise and govemment agencies, it sGmail, yes, Gmail. After a relatively shortüme in the business market, what began as Google s consumer Hotmail competitorhas taken on the big guns of corporate e-mail  in the form of Google Apps. GoogleApps now runs second only to Microsoft s Exchange in enterprise and govemmentmarket penetration.The interesting thing about the riseof Google Apps is not the fact that it s just another groupware suite, it s the factthat it s a pure cloud service. So when you compare the number of on-premiseinstallarions of Notes and Group Wise to those of Google Apps it s several thousandto none. Google Apps overtook Notes and Group Wise not because it was better, butbecause it was easier (and perhaps had lower upfront costs as well). BIG QUESTIONS FORGOVERNMENT From an IT standpoint, the decision touse a SaaS or on-premise applicationrelates to delivery model and whetherthe technology is an appropriate fit forthe organisation, but in government thedecision to use a cloud service relates justas much topolicy andprivacy thantechnology.In the caseof  e-mail  thereare now plentyof stories of large-scaleenterprise and governmentdeployment of on-demand services,namely Google Apps and Microsoft srecently released Office 365platform. And let s not forgetRIM s BlackBerry has been sending e-mail  data offshore for yearsnow. In NSW, the Departmentof Education went with GoogleApps over Exchange for its student e-mail  service.So while there are local, state andfederal govemment entiries alreadyusing cloud services, a number offundamental risk factors impactdecision making.The first is the biggeststrength and weakness ofSaaS as a delivery model- sovereignty. At theend of the day, SaaSarchitecture is a fullyoutsourced deliverymodel so if the provideris in complete control of thesubscriber s data and application all ofthe time. For many organisations thisis a good thing, but for governmentdepartments concerned about how theirdata is managed and secured, this, can bea road block.That s not to say the security anduptime of SaaS providers is poor, but ifyou control the application and data,you can engineer a very high level ofavailability and make sure you alwayshave access to the information in theevent of a network outage.Security is also a problem in the cloudwhen it comes to political hacking,further adding to the decision makingheadache for government CIOs. Withcloud sites harbouring so much datathey have become well known targets forattackers. And it will increasingly be thejob of the cloud providers, not IT  staff tokeep unwanted visitors out. NO END  IN  SIGHT FORSAAS SUCCESS Despite the drawbacks, the adoptionof  aa by Australian enterprise andgovernment organsations is set tocontinue with between 10 and 30 percent of CIOs expecting to move on- premise software to the cloud, depending on the application.Google has shown us that a change in delivery model, not just competition,results in the biggest disruption of thestatus quo. SaaS is now an establisheddelivery model and will compete, with varying success, against both established and new on-premise applications. The challenge for govemment agencies isfinding the right balance between the risk,regulation and reward SaaS presents,  GN RODNEY GEDO IS A SENIOR ANALYST AT TELSYTECOVERING ENTERPRISE AND GOVERNMENT ICT14 I  GN  I OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2012  Copyright of Government News is the property of Intermedia Group Pty Ltd and its content may not be copiedor emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission.However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
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