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SaaS - blue sky thinking or cloud cuckoo land?

Thursday 21 January 2010
8 - 10 am
Pearl Restaurant, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN

Software as a service (SaaS) allows customers to access business applications through on-demand licensing, removing the need to develop and implement expensive applications. SaaS provides scalability, accessibility and affordability. The service provider takes responsibility for support, maintenance, infrastructure and upgrades, and can pass on substantial economies of scale in operating cost. This means that the IT organisation can be slimmer and does not need whole areas of skill, freeing it to focus on differentiating capability.

However, larger enterprises are hesitating to make the leap to SaaS. CIOs are concerned about business continuity, data security, privacy and vendor lock-in. Issues include the difficulty of customising SaaS or integrating it across other enterprise systems. Interoperability and access to data also need to be addressed.

For those who can navigate these issues, SaaS can be a real game-changer. Our Breakfast Exchange discussion will be kicked-off by Steve Garnett, the European chairman of Salesforce.com, Paul Cheesbrough, CIO at Telegraph Media Group and Jeremy Vincent, CIO at Jaguar Land Rover.

Paul joined the Telegraph from the BBC, where he was Controller, Digital Media. He writes on technology matters for telegraph.co.uk - see his blog on cloud computing.

Under Jeremy’s leadership, Jaguar Land Rover has recently taken out a 15,000 seat licence for Google’s Apps collaboration and productivity suite. As Jeremy says “Six or seven months ago I didn’t know what cloud computing was but I was invited to speak at a conference on it so I thought I had better learn. I did and it fundamentally changed my attitude to IT and I started to preach the gospel wherever I could. I’ve been recruited on a change agenda and need something else to raise my flag. If you do the same as everyone else don’t expect to be better than anybody else. [Cost] enabled me to get the approval process signed off quickly but in the future it will give us access to a commodity solution across the workforce”.

Steve understands the licensed software industry from his experience as Sales Director and Vice President of Marketing at Oracle and as head of Siebel Systems in Europe, and now runs the leading SaaS provider. Salesforce routinely processes 150 million transactions per day, performed by 1.5 million users. It achieves this with a multi-tenancy single-instance architecture pioneered by Google, Amazon and other consumer applications.

Breakfast Exchanges are an opportunity for selected senior executives to meet in a small group to discuss ‘hot topics’ in a confidential and informal environment. We would be delighted if you could find the time to come and contribute to the debate. There are a maximum of six places available - if you would like to join this group, please contact Fiona Farr at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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How to get to having virtually no infrastructure

07 October
8 - 10 am
Pearl Restaurant, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN

Virtualisation allows a single physical resource (server, storage, application, desktop) to behave as any number of virtual resources, or conversely lets multiple physical resources behave as a single virtual resource. Applied at the enterprise datacentre level, virtualisation delivers compelling cost advantages, allowing much more efficient resource utilisation, reducing energy costs and carbon footprint, and improving flexibility, scalability and availability. More profoundly, when applied to the entire enterprise, virtualisation enables new and disruptive business models.

However, getting there is not simple and infrastructure transformation must be built on secure foundations. Therefore companies must think in terms of these three key steps: Stabilise, rationalise, virtualise. This can be a very complex journey. Uncontrolled, system images and the associated costs can proliferate.  Initial investment may be required and existing assets may need to be written off. Accordingly, few organisations have so far been able to reap anything like the full potential of strategic virtualisation.

Our Breakfast Exchange discussion was kicked off by two recognised authorities – Steve O’Donnell and Mark Shirman. Steve is a leading industry analyst on infrastructure and operations (visit his blog for an insight into his points of view). As the global head of Data Centres at BT, Steve presided over a 20,000 server reduction that yielded an 8-figure cost saving over three years and at First Data he ran IT for the largest global credit, debit, gift, and prepay card processing company in the world.  Mark is the CEO and founder of GlassHouse Technologies, a global provider of IT infrastructure services enabling organisations to consolidate, virtualise and manage their IT environments efficiently.  Also participating in the discussion were Gavin Colman, Paul Johnson, Kevin O'Connor, Robert Pitt, Guy Ruddock, John Simmons, Bob Torreson and Stuart Walters.

Breakfast Exchanges are an opportunity for selected senior executives to meet in a small group to discuss ‘hot topics’ in a confidential and informal environment. We would be delighted if you could find the time to come and contribute to the debate. There are a maximum of eight places available – if you would like to join this group, please contact Fiona Farr at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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SaaS Breakfast Exchange - blue sky thinking or cloud cuckoo land?

10 September
8 - 10 am
Pearl Restaurant, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN

Our Breakfast Exchange discussion was kicked-off by Steve Garnett, the European chairman of Salesforce.com, and Paul Cheesbrough, CIO at Telegraph Media Group. Paul joined the Telegraph from the BBC, where he was Controller, Digital Media. He writes on technology matters for telegraph.co.uk - see his blog on cloud computing. Steve understands the licensed software industry from his experience as Sales Director and Vice President of Marketing at Oracle and as head of Siebel Systems in Europe, and now runs the leading SaaS provider. Salesforce routinely processes 150 million transactions per day, performed by 1.5 million users. It achieves this with a multi-tenancy single-instance architecture pioneered by Google, Amazon and other consumer applications. Also participating in the discussion were Robert Baldock, Richard Cammish, Gavin Colman, Phil Cook, Peter Federico, Andrew Hickey, Jill Lucas, Robert Pitt, Rashmi Rao, Duncan Scott and Dominic Shine.

CIOs were agreed that using SaaS increases speed of deployment and cuts the time to deliver benefit. Paul Cheesbrough’s experience is that the time from idea to implementation reduces from between six and nine months to around three months. Another driver is that SaaS can significantly reduce cost.

There was consensus that the security and business continuity concerns are not a real barrier to adoption: concerns about ‘control’ and ‘knowing where data is’ are more emotional than rational. IT shops themselves are one of the biggest barriers to adoption, as obviously is the entire software industry, whose business model is fundamentally threatened by SaaS.

The challenges in implementing SaaS are the need to integrate between the different application ‘stacks’, to provide a single consistent look and feel across different services and to manage sign-on and security consistently. Strong enterprise architecture skills are required and there are still gaps and overlaps in the overall SaaS picture, particularly the middleware layers of the architecture.

This group of CIOs feel that SaaS and related changes are definitely shaping a future which is fundamentally different than the ‘software as an asset’ world. Whereas IT capability has been about development and operations, it is becoming about business process improvement, innovation and exploiting information.

There was an interesting discussion around the paradigm shift (of which SaaS is a part) in which the consumer web is now the dominant source of innovation and new capability. Development and architectures are overwhelmingly web development and web architectures. This is also the target of all the heavy investment in capability and capacity. There is also now an expectation of usability, functional richness and seamless integration from the generation of business managers who have grown up in the online world.

Breakfast Exchanges are an opportunity for selected senior executives to meet in a small group to discuss ‘hot topics’ in a confidential and informal environment. We would be delighted if you could find the time to come and contribute to future debates. Please follow the link below to find out more about upcoming Breakfast Exchanges. There are a maximum of eight places available at each event - if you would like to join a future Breakfast  Exchange please contact Fiona Farr at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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