It seems these days as everything is “…as a Service.” Cloud this….Cloud that. There is a genuine computing revolution occurring before us today, with companies developing new products and services that you or your organization can set up and use in a matter of minutes as opposed to days, weeks or months. It’s amazing to see how these new technologies are accelerating the velocity of many businesses. Today though, I am going to ask us all to take a step back and try to not get caught up in some of the hype that exists in the market. I’ve on more than one occasion made the argument that “The Cloud” is nothing more than a new twist on mainframe computing, but that’s not the point of today’s missive. Today, I’d like to specifically target the term Mobility as a Service.
Now before you get all wound up (especially if you are in the mobile cloud space), let me be very clear here today. I am a very big fan of this space…and have been so for quite some time. In fact, if you look back to My Five Predictions for Enterprise Mobility in 2010, you’ll see this:
Prediction #5: Think About Mobility As A Service. There. I did it. I added another acronym to the technology alphabet soup we already live in. (For the record, I still believe I was the one who coined the term “the consumerization of enterprise mobility,” but I digress). But in any case, this one (MAAS) makes sense (to me at least). Mobility – whether consumer or enterprise – is changing at a frenetic pace…a pace that is arguably too fast for companies to be able to handle and manage effectively. They just want things to work. Isn’t that the whole premise of xAAS? This is not just about cloud computing or Mobile Cloud Computing. This is about companies looking to outsource their entire mobility initiatives and having companies provide them all the IT services (and solutions) they need. Enterprise mobility vendors now have the opportunity to provide that same level of service to companies that they have become accustomed to for hosted email, enterprise apps, etc.
I stand by those words. The problem is this. Because MaaS is a very nascent market, vendors are (understandably) interpreting the word in very different ways, and hence taking very different approaches to what MaaS can be. All we need do is look at IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service) to see how loosely those terms are being used. By the way, isn’t IaaS just hosting on steroids?
Well, technically, it’s not. IaaS offers on demand scalability where you can spin up and down your infrastructure needs – one need only look at Amazon’s EC2 to get a sense of what I am talking about. With MaaS, it’s slightly different. As I see it (and please chime in and correct me if I am wrong), there are two main issues/problems in the market of MaaS today:
- Today’s MaaS services are not about on demand scalability. They are simply (and I am not trivializing this) SaaS solutions for mobility management. There are some very cool systems out there, but the “net net” is that you don’t have to buy a box, configure it, install software….just to get it up and running. Click through a few screens and you are up and running. It’s powerful in its simplicity….just like Salesforce.com
- However, MaaS already has multiple flavors. In the last couple of days alone, I have come across MaaS solutions for device management, application management, inventory management and expense management, just to name a few. I’m sure there are more out there.
And hence the rub. The term MaaS is becoming confusing in my opinion. I will however offer two potential solutions:
- Perhaps we should just rebrand it all to mSaaS (not a huge fan of this because I like MaaS as a word)
- How about adding a modifier to MaaS to provide clarity? I’m thinking along the lines of MaaSem or MaaSdm (the superscript isn’t showing up for some reason on the stylesheet) to provide the extra level of detail required to remove any potential confusion.
Just a thought….