I notice that while I was on holiday Joe McKendrick picked up on my response to his initial hypothesis on SOA as Saas (here). I must have gotten my language in a tangle somewhere as Joe seems to end on a note that suggests that we disagree whereas in fact I think the opposite:
“But will enterprises simply end up entirely on the consuming side of business services? What if part of their core business (no matter what industry) becomes service provision as well? We may see the rise of ‘Intrapreneurial’ SaaS, in which corporate units (probably, but not limited to, IT) that build, maintain, test, and offer libraries of SOA-enabled services for consumption either by customers within the organization, as well as external customers willing to pay for those services on an incremental basis.”
It was never my intention to suggest that organisations would only be consumers of services (although I believe that increasing specialisation means that they will largely be). All organisations are going to be providers of some services, but my contention is that they will become forced to specialise in order to survive. The remainder of my argument was that for the 20% of services that remained for them to deliver – along with the capabilities they will need to compose these with external services – they were going to find it increasingly difficult to sustain the ability to implement these with internal IT capabilities – essentially platforms are of an infrastructural nature (i.e. subject to economies of scale) and therefore their trajectory is towards consolidation in the same way as any infrastructural technology. My point – perhaps not very clear given the length of my post and the fact that I’m often blogging early in the morning when my daughter wakes up 😉 – was that SaaS relies on the creation of highly scalable platforms that support specific architectures along with the other capabilities needed to monetise service provision (e.g. billing, service management, reporting etc). As a result we may increasingly find that organisations look to compose and deliver services targeted for deployment and execution on these utility platforms rather than struggle to deliver them on platforms maintained just for them when this will be both expensive and not aligned with their core business.
In summary I guess my point was that although SaaS is not SOA, SaaS platforms – given their infrastructural nature – may become the defacto IT deployment and execution environment for many service providers given the difficulty they would have in sustaining their own IT environments competitively.
I’ve got a lot more detail on this in my series of posts outlining my beliefs about the changing nature of business and IT – if you’re interested have a look at Elements of the Future Business Ecosystem (Part II).