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SaaS: Are Software companies taking over the World?

A blog by Richard May

Being a bit of a Sci-Fi fan, I just want to plant a few images in your head before getting on to the techie stuff. In Doctor Who and ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ everyone was buying the same mobile ear piece, which ended up with the populous being controlled. ‘Gamer’, where Castle’s application enables gamers to control a real person and the individual’s free will is completely taken away. Then there’s ‘Total Recall’, with information and false memories being directly planted in his brain.

I’ve recently sat through two presentations, one from Microsoft and one VMware. The message from both of them seems to be ‘sell our services because very soon little else will exist’. Microsoft have created what they call the Microsoft Cloud, which is where all things Microsoft exist, including: MS lead Dev environments on Azure, business applications such as Exchange Office and CRM via MS 365.

SaaS Software hosting

Traditionally this software would have been installed on site and supported by local IT companies. Now not only are we completely reliant on these applications but they are completely controlled by Microsoft, and as we are already seeing, Microsoft is now dictating how you can use the software and controlling the market.

For example, service providers can rent most software under a service provider licensing model and use it to provide a service, however, this doesn’t apply to MS office where only Microsoft can provide this to customers on a PAYG model. Does this make them more powerful? Does it reduce choice? Of course it does.

Another example is Microsoft Small Business Server, which was the centre of many SME’s IT solutions. This has now been removed from the market, apparently because it no longer required because of MS 365. Another angle might be that it forces people to use 365 while also making sure they also get more direct customers, more control.

Software as a Service ( SaaS ) is definitely King, it could take over the world. In the future it could be possible that the only way to use the Microsoft portfolio will be to go directly to Microsoft.

VMware has a different proposition. They provide virtual infrastructure software (the Hypervisor), and are the market leaders in this field. So here is a new term, Hyper Convergence. This the approach of bringing all infrastructure services into a big white box. No need to worry about Servers, Networks functionality, Storage, backups, replication, DR. It will all just happen for you. Just buy simple servers, storage and Network Route, all the real intelligence is in the Hypervisor.

Will there be a business in selling hardware anymore? Currently companies like Atlantis, and SimpliVity have harnessed the power of VSphere to introduce a layer to work with the Hypervisor to manage this Convergence. At the same time VMware is busy integrating all this into their Hypervisor, probably negating the future use of these products anyway.

VMware have released their Virtual SAN technology, now in the Hypervisor, next NSX, to cover networking and security. Soon when network speeds will allow, full cross Datacentre functionality and failover. Hyper convergence will soon be VSphere. Finally just to add to their bid for world domination, they now have their own public cloud offering too… IaaS from VMware themselves.

So is this bad and will it actually happen? Well that all depends. People buy from people, can these companies provide the comfort and support that a local provider can? If there was just one Homogenous IT solution for all, could companies still differentiate and use IT to provide competitive advantage? Do people want to be controlled by the corporations? Let’s see what happens.

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