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Information as a Service

I don't have to tell anyone about the growing problem of complexity that faces development and IT managers. Enterprises find themselves managing increasing numbers of applications, tied to a diverse array of internal and external data sources, services and people. The end result: The information often is out there, but the applications -- and the people who rely on them -- can't get at it.

Enter the concept of Information as a Service (IaaS). Like Software as a Service (SaaS) before it, IaaS aims to break chokepoints that have developed as the scope, scale and interconnectedness of enterprise systems have grown. Where SaaS enables the flexible delivery of trusted applications to endpoints over public and private networks, IaaS enables a more dynamic, flexible and robust means for information access across evolving and growing infrastructures.

Enterprise vendors are already hard at it. From Microsoft's Dynamic IT strategy to IBM's Information on Demand and Oracle's Fusion middleware, the drive to enable flexible, scalable and ubiquitous access to business information is well underway.

Forrester Research recently published a report that looks at the emerging IaaS market. It describes IaaS as employing data virtualization middleware to enable a flexible architecture that minimizes data management through robust automation, while providing real-time data sharing that eliminates the need to ship massive volumes of data to individual applications and servers. Distributed data caching and a virtualized infrastructure deliver low latency performance, and also serve to boost resiliency via redundant data feeds. Centralized data access controls, provided again by a common middleware layer, ensure both security and compliance.

So which vendors are ahead of the pack? According to Forrester, BEA Systems, IBM, Oracle and Red Hat are in the lead, with BEA and Oracle standing out in all IaaS use cases defined in the report. For its part, Microsoft lags because it can't match the sheer breadth of leading platforms, but the report calls Redmond a leader in the high-performance and enterprise search use cases.

Is IaaS something your development shop is starting to look at? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/31/2008 at 1:15 PM


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