As a Service

By Ken Phelan
Posted in Virtualization
On August 20, 2012

Consultants (myself included) like to make up words and phrases. When a word or phrase is fresh, it’s a beautiful thing full of promise and ambiguous glory. As it gets older, it inevitably finds some form of stable consensus which is just plain boring. It’s a sort of evolution from something cool and ethereal to something specific and occasionally fetid. Like a rainbow that turns into a swamp.

There’s a whole new breed of restaurants that they’re calling fast casual. That’s a great name. I know what fast food is. I’ve heard of casual dining. I’m interested in my food being fast and I have no interest in dressing formally for a lunch establishment. I may still have no idea what this really actually means, but it sounds cool and I want to go there.

Maybe the term will catch on and restaurants will start to brand themselves as fast casual to sound cool.

Over time, I’ll probably go to some fast casual restaurants and the term will start to mean something specific to me. I’ll be like, oh yeah, fast casual, just like Panera. Ugh, I hate Panera. But then, maybe the term is hot and Smashburger brands itself as fast casual. I like Smashburger. It’s all very confusing.

As I say, though, in IT we’re the masters of this. One of the latest hot phrases is the extension of as a Service onto everything we do. Software as a Service. Infrastructure as a Service. Desktops as a Service. At first it was working well for us. We know what software is. We know what service is. Who wouldn’t want software that was more of a service? Certainly nobody wants software that’s less of a service.

As time goes on, we’re forced to be a little more specific about what we mean by this. Some uses have been relatively positive. Salesforce.com continues to be a solid example of an application that’s purpose-built to be delivered as a web service directly to consumers. Other less positive examples include traditional software companies who have tried to provide hosted versions of their software on the web. These can sometimes turn into examples of software with a service (hosting) if these companies are ill-prepared to provide the other services that clients are looking for to get value from their software.

You’re probably aware that Desktop as a Service is near and dear to Gotham’s heart. I’ve blogged before about the mistake of thinking that a virtualized desktop solves all problems (Desktop Transformation is Not VDI). But if virtualization and hosting don’t make a desktop into a service, what does?

The short answer is, rather than deliver a handful of tools that make up a desktop experience (PC, O/S, Applications, etc.), you bundle those together and take ownership of the desktop experience. Anybody can pick components and call it a bundle. It’s the ownership of the experience that’s challenging. I’ll cover some of the challenges in owning the desktop experience in my next blog.

Ken Phelan

Ken Phelan

Ken is one of Gotham’s founders and its Chief Technology Officer, responsible for all internal and external technology and consulting operations for the firm. A recognized authority on technology and operations, Ken has been widely quoted in the technical press, and is a frequent presenter at various technology conferences. Ken is the Chairman of the Wall Street Thin Client Advisory Council.