IT trend: Everything is 'a service'


At this point, "Software as a Service," "Platform as a Service" and "Infrastructure as a Service" are staples in the enterprise IT product discussion. It seems almost everything now has a full-service component. While attending the Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit in Orlando, Fla., it became clear that managed service providers are staging themselves as the next gen outsourcing option for chief information officers.

Sixty-two percent of executives plan to increase their IT spend on managed services over the next two years, according to a CompTIA survey of 400 U.S.-based executives at the CIO-, CEO- and CFO-level. Respondents cited the most sought-after services as security, such as firewalls and antivirus (38 percent); website hosting (36 percent); network administration and maintenance (34 percent); and help desk and IT support (31 percent).

"Often times [the CIO is thinking], 'I've got these smart SharePoint guys and gals, or Exchange guys and gals. I'm going to repurpose them to something else, bring in some people that I'm not having to pay a six-figure IT salary to,'" Scott Gode, Azaleos vice president of product management and marketing, told FierceCIO.

Azaleos provides managed services on-premise or in the cloud for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory and Lync Server. The company monitors server activity, pushes out commands for patches and can even perform full-on upgrades remotely, during client-designated service windows--all with appropriate audit trails and documentation.

Even though the company monitors the system, they are unable to read actual emails or instant messages, Gode said. In other words, they're watching the vitals, but they don't get to see the actual X-rays of the patient.

Information technology giant EMC has entered the arena, as well. Last year, EMC introduced a suite of OnDemand products that leverage the company's VCUBE architecture and VCUBE manager. Chris Preston, senior director of integrated technology strategy in EMC's information intelligence group, called the managed service aspect of the suite an "important new twist."

"It provides all of the infrastructure, all the hardware, network communications, and so on, but also the whole environment of the software applications is managed by EMC experts," Preston said.

"So, the EMC experts are managing software upgrades, patch releases, performance tuning, which is a fair amount of resource effort on any enterprise mission-critical, tier-one application."

VCUBE manager also offers CIOs a view into the patch updates, lightweight access directory protocol integration and secure integration services pushed out to the applications.

Making these maintenance processes easier for the IT shop is driving business transformation, Preston said, because it allows CIOs to focus on more strategic issues.

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