Tech Score

Developing a ‘Smart Appliance’ Strategy

By Jeff Hudgins

As ISVs and OEMs rush to plan their cloud computing strategies, IT enterprises are looking to solve real business problems in the near term. Cloud computing is considered a disruptive technology as companies try to maximize their IT-related spending. Analysts report that more than 20 percent of enterprises are either piloting or implementing some cloud/utility computing solutions today and do not plan to own any IT assets after 2012.

Those ISVs and OEMs who have thus far successfully delivered solutions to the IT enterprise may well be wondering how cloud computing fits into their strategies.

My advice is ignore the term cloud computing and focus on how enterprises will consume applications such as storage management, security, CRM, or unified communications. Consider all the deployment methods and try mapping them to your value equation for clarity.

Software as a service and software-only solutions include applications that are tailored by the IT enterprise and delivered over the Internet or private cloud to eliminate the maintenance costs associated with hardware.

Infrastructure as a service allows IT enterprises to deploy applications (like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) in centralized data and network management schemes. In this instance the OEM or ISV can deliver the software application decoupled from the hardware by using a virtual software appliance.

Appliances in general, with their prepackaged, preconfigured software application along with a purpose-built hardware option, provide an elegant, scalable architecture for application deployments in a variety of environments. This can ease the provisioning time and tech support burdens for both the IT enterprise and the OEM.

Final Score

The IT enterprise will invest in new infrastructure equipment offering flexibility, while the OEM/ISV gains market share and increases profitability. Implementing a smart and seamless appliance strategy across all deployment models is a grand slam for the entire supply chain. IT

Jeff Hudgins is vice president of product management at NEI Inc. (