If I had a nickel for every time I came across someone talking about “the cloud” lately, I’d be a rich, rich woman.
If I had a nickel for every person who could accurately define what exactly it means to be “in the cloud,” I’d be broke.
In spite of what a hot topic the cloud is, especially in light of its implications as seen in the recent break-in of confidential Twitter accounts, it seems that there is little industry consensus on what exactly it means to be in the cloud. Pair that with some preexisting confusion over what is true Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and you find us all in a hot mess.
I’m going to break down my opinion of what it truly means to be Software-as-a-Service and what it means to be “in the cloud.” And just for some perspective, I’ll throw in where iCIMS as a talent management solution falls. Feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong.
Cloud computing is the most recent buzzword, but this isn’t the first time an innovative method has had the industry buzzing. Back in the day, ASP (application service provider) was the hot topic. An ASP is a company that provides software in an on-demand SaaS method.
After ASP, the buzz turned to Software-as-a-Service, which is a method to deliver software (typically web-based software).
Thus, the progression went ASP --> SaaS --> cloud computing.
Where does iCIMS fall? We are an ASP and we offer a SaaS Talent Platform.
I can’t speak for other organizations, but I can explain what it means that the iCIMS Talent Platform is SaaS. iCIMS owns a couple dozen servers on which we host our clients’ highly confidential or sensitive material, like EEO data, personal information, etc. These servers are very much a physical entity and they’re stored in AT&T data centers in NJ.
All other client information, such as their graphics, style sheets (aka static information) is hosted on the 15,000 servers we have access to through our partnership with Akamai Technologies. We do not own 15,000 servers, Akamai does, but we use them.
Therefore, highly private information is safely stored with us on those iCIMS' owned servers which is obviously a huge plus. And because Akamai hosts all static information on their 15,000 servers that are all over the world, this ensures that those static elements of the Talent Platform will be as fast as possible.
Instead of buying, maintaining, repairing and being in charge of those servers we own to store clients’ information, we could essentially rent the servers from a vendor; this is what it means to be in the cloud.
Just as iCIMS clients don’t have to install or host their own Talent Platform, but we do that for them in the Software-as-a-Service model, these cloud vendors would be hardware-as-a-service. We’d no longer have to purchase dozens of expensive servers. Instead, we’d simply use a vendor’s hardware and put all data there, and we’d pay them a monthly fee to ensure that they had someone maintaining the servers.
The advantage to this is that it would cure the problems experienced through the SaaS model. We wouldn’t have the physical responsibility of purchasing/maintaining/repairing servers.
The downside? Well, no one’s all that clear on the issue yet because this is unexplored territory. That is precisely why, as appealing and exciting as going to the cloud might seem, organizations must proceed with caution.
What do you think? Do you agree with my assessment of SaaS and the cloud or is your definition different? Let's get some dialogue going on this.