On Tuesday, I sat between Steve Lucas and Jeff Nolan on a panel moderated by Phil Wainewright. The topic was SaaS in the enterprise.

The discussion was good and I don’t think we disagreed too much. The key takeaways for me were:

(a)    It is about Software + Services. Enterprise IT is trending towards  an hybrid model, in other words the IT services portfolio will be composed of “on premise” services and “in the cloud” services.

(b)   It is about Integration. The hybrid (on premise/cloud) service portfolio must be able to share data and processes among all services (regardless of location),and to prepare (expose) all the services for composition (see the concept of “mise en place” in this previous post)

(c)    It is about Composition. It is about being able to create rich, user-centric, task oriented applications from the service portfolio. This requires a Composition layer in the architecture.

(d)   It is not about cost reduction (at least in the larger enterprises); it is about providing value generating opportunities pursuing/enabling the “enterprise mash-up” /composition ideas.

(e)   It is not about making the CIO job easier. The CIO job might even get more "interesting" (read complex) due to additional sourcing choices and also due to the potential proliferation of SaaS usage within the enterprise without IT involvement, resulting in the need of adapting the IT governance processes (I had hinted to something along these lines here); but on the other hand, if done successfully the embracement of SaaS and the resulting richer user centric application creation, could help turn the CIO (and IT in general) into a more "partner" organization to business units than a "necessary evil".

As a side note, it was very interesting to see that although some business related topics were touched upon, a lot of the discussion concentrated on the architectural challenge and impact.

 Steve, Jeff, it was nice meeting you, Phil, thanks for the invite. (FYI: Jeff posted his view here).