Friday, January 04, 2008

Portability, that's the beauty of XaaS ....

(Brits over 30 will understand the title, just hum it, you know you want to.)

Is Nick up to some wicked and devilish posting with an item on the future of SaaS followed in quick succession by a subtle caveat emptor on data portability?

So as SaaS becomes more mainstream, I'm in agreement with Christopher Hoff and James Urquhart that at some point we are going to face a major security or resilience issue with a SaaS Vendor and a repeat of second sourcing lessons.

Could 2008 turn out to be the year we start to realise that without portability we face being seduced by an almost irresistable proposition which comes with some serious handcuffs? Is this when we start to recognise that we really need choice and competitive utility markets in the SaaS or HaaS or X as a Service fields? This was my concern at oscon and web 2.0

Of course unlike electricity where switching providers is simple, we have a relationship with our XaaS vendor as our data resides with them. However portability (why stop at data, with FaaS vendors you need to port your code as well) is more than just open standards and APIs to transfer that data. They are necessary but not sufficient and as Nick hints at it's a big and complex issue.

There is no point in portability if you have no other provider to go to, or if not all the data is covered by the standard, or if the data is not interpreted or used in the same way. To solve this invariably requires multiple providers running the same XaaS system but no provider is ever going to hand over strategic control of their business to another. The only realistic way we are ever likely to have an ecosystem of providers with portability between them is if we end up with open source XaaS technology complying to open standards and providers competing on operational implementation.

But even that isn't enough to ensure actual portability. Switching providers has got to be an easily achievable task, not buried in arcane concepts and obscurity.

So could portability turn out to be the real big issue of 2008? Well it's going to be this year or the next, and I reckon Nick knows this.