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Driving as a service

Are you wondering about the title? Well, this is no new product announcement of IBM, rather than some thoughts about the idea of cloud computing that arose when I saw a video of the vision of car driving in 2028 according to Volkswagen:

My first thought was: Wow, it would be very cool to rent a car that picks me up and does not need a driver controlling the vehicle. I like the idea of not owning a car and avoiding costs for operation and maintenance – just paying for the time I am using the car. Also I would not need to worry whether I can afford the investment in a new car. If my requirements change, I can easily order a car with more seats. If I have a lot of luggage, I can add a trailer temporarily.

My second thought was: Hey, that is exactly what cloud computing offers today. I do not need to own hardware and software to run applications that deliver business value. I do not have to care whether my applications are able to scale, if load increases. I do not have systems idling most of the times, while consuming floor space and energy – having high processor load only over a short period of time. The most important thing is that I can pay per use, which dramatically reduces costs.

Another important fact is that cloud computing reduces complexity. Similar to the driving model, where I would not need to have (or buy) skills for maintenance and repair, cloud computing gives me the possibility to focus on my business with less effort to operate infrastructure, platforms and applications. So I do not need to have highly specialized people to operate applications. This lowers the costs of IT operations and reduces the requirements for staff’s professional skills and gives employees of an organization the possibility to focus on more innovative projects.

There are a lot of similarities between cloud computing and driving in 2028 – what induced me to name it driving as a service (DaaS).

You might ask: “What about taxi and public transportation?” I think that is not a service in the sense of cloud computing. It is like comparing cloud computing and outsourcing. Both are offered as services, but they don’t offer the same. Cloud computing and DaaS provide great flexibility and lower costs, whereas you have less flexibility and higher costs when using outsourcing and taxi.

In fact, XaaS and DaaS follow similar patterns:

  • The manual work processes are replaced by an automated way of doing the work. The impact on both industries is comparable to the impact of industrialization in the manufacturing industry.
  • The business model changes dramatically. Line-of-business users have much more freedom to adopt IT services, because the IT department does not need to be involved (versus daily people choosing the car they want to use, based on their personal desire – not based on the offerings of a certain manufacturer).
  • Also the discussion about security seems to be similar: Does a service provide more security than an on-premise installation (versus is driving with an automated car safer than having people driving manually)?

From today’s perspective we might raise a smile, when the little boy asks: “You were in a real traffic jam?” Children in the near future might ask: “You were really working in a data center maintaining hundreds of single servers most of the time?”

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