The ~aaS (as a service) acronym must be the most overdone three letters in technology – not satisfied with the main three divisions – IaaS, PaaS and SaaS – there are a plethora of other acronyms as well XaaS, DBaaS, BaaS etc. Sometimes there is justification for coning another term and Citrix hopes that is the case for XaaS or Anything as a Service.
In the case of Citrix, the thinking goes something like this: enterprises and service providers are looking to deliver up a single interface to their customers, one that includes infrastructure elements but also workloads and services. They want to be able to do so and have a consistent approach towards the commercial transaction, the user management, the actual provisioning and the operation aspects of the service. CloudPortal is designed to do all this – it delivers the back end requirements on top of which sit the actual services that SPs want to provision (and, for that matter, the sort of services that forward looking enterprise IT organizations want to “sell” to their internal business units in a “cloud like” manner).
As Citrix points out (self service for sure but, in fairness, a valid perspective):
operating a cloud as a business, internally or externally, can be a difficult task without the right set of tools to connect cloud services to business operations and end-users. For today’s cloud architects, building infrastructures to meet elasticity and resource pooling requirements of the cloud is already well-defined – the challenge has been delivering cloud services in a meaningful and accessible way to all users, technical and non-technical
In other words – people understand how to BUILD clouds, but the services that actually let them SELL cloud and cloud services are less well understood, and less well catered to. To this end, the CloudPortal Business Manager delivers a broad services catalog platform that allows customers to build:
- Custom Cloud Services Catalog – Create a custom catalog of services including IaaS, cloud, 3rd party, value-add and IT services that are delivered to users through a self-service interface
- Extensible Platform – Leverage the partner ecosystem and newly available SDKs and APIs to deliver any service (IaaS, PaaS, storage, etc.) while broadening the portfolio of services to differentiate and increase the value of the cloud
- Complete Cloud Visibility – Give users a single view of their cloud services, including availability, system health, performance, account status, utilization, billing, helpdesk and alerts
- Metering and Monitoring – Track service usage with real-time reports and monitor system health with built-in alerts. Generate customized reports for current and historical activity with drill-down analytics
- Workflow Approvals – Define workflow rules for new user activation and service provisioning to ensure departmental requirements and budget approvals are met
One customer using the Business Manager is SunGard Availability Services. Simon Withers, the VP of Global Cloud Product at SunGard Availability Services is bullish about the platform:
SunGard Availability Services delivers a suite of Enterprise Cloud Services, which includes the recent release of our public cloud service powered by Apache CloudStack in Europe. With this recent addition of public cloud services in partnership with Citrix, SunGard Availability Services provides customers access to our public cloud customer portal delivering a customized set of public cloud services via Citrix CloudPortal Business Manager
I agree that building cloud products is a relatively well understood task but all the services that ensure those products can be sold and supported are less well provided for. It’s an area that many different vendors are tackling – the subscription and financial vendors like NetSuite are taking an ERP-centric view of the problem space whereas subscription and billing vendors like Zuora look more to the service catalog side of things. It’s a valid perspective to posit that service providers and enterprises are looking for a commerce platform that is more tightly coupled with the actual service elements being sold.
That said, what I know of large service provider organization is that there is rarely a platform product that actually meets the myriad of their needs – often they end up building something custom, or kludging together a bunch of ad hoc modules to meet their needs – it ain’t pretty, but all too often it’s the reality.