|By Cloud Best Practices Network||
|October 1, 2012 06:00 AM EDT||
Not yet included in the NIST taxonomy of Cloud Computing models is ‘BPaaS’ – Business Process as a Service.
Hopefully it soon will be, as although it is the lesser known and discussed of the Cloud categories, it’s the most powerful in it’s ability to directly impact short-term business transformation and perceivable business value to end-users.
Where IaaS provides virtual servers, PaaS the databases and other middleware and then SaaS for a category of software like CRM, as the name suggests BPaaS is the next layer up again, where the software is then tailored for a specific workflow and this is delivered as-a-Service.
As the diagram from QBOS describes, the key characteristics of BPaaS are:
- Encapsulate and offer all or part of a business model
- Add and mature industry practices into SaaS solutions layer
- Add IP value directly without the costs of development
- Implement changes to work/document flow dynamically
It’s said that the distinctions between the layers is the audiences they serve: IaaS is for infrastructure managers, PaaS for software developers and SaaS for non-technical business users.
However even then CRM isn’t a business process, it is one program of software that must be further tailored for various processes. Often what you’ll find is that there is another category of user, a power use who is non-technical but highly skilled with the application, who acts as the administrator and trainer of the end-users. SaaS is intended for them, with end-users ultimately being consumers of BPaaS.
BPaaS is the function of isolating these process customizations and delivering these as distinct as-a-Service offerings.
Private Cloud Application Platform
Two+ years ago I described the emergence of the platform that would enable this model, the ‘PCAP’ – Private Cloud Application Platform.
The key idea is that within a Private Cloud context the main enterprise apps like Sharepoint and Lync could be configured to deliver BPaaS, with an example of this effect being the Province of Ontario and their use of Sharepoint FAST this way.
There are now tools emerging to help developers create their own versions of this approach. TechCello offers what they call a ‘CMAP’ – Cloud Multi-Tenant Application Platform
In their white paper Tenant Sub Tenant Hierarchy and Tenant Aware Applications, they describe how you can achieve multi-tenancy at the IaaS layer (virtualization) and you can achieve it at the SaaS layer (multiple tenants via one database), and then furthermore you can achieve multi-tenancy at the application layer as well. This is where BPaaS is achieved.
With Gartner predicting that BPaaS will grow from $84.1B in 2012 to $144.7B in 2016, and this direct and powerful match to users business requirements, this is a key way for Cloud Providers to expand into vertical sectors.
Described in this article, and this one, experts from organizations like Tata, Infosys, IBM and Dell Perot, key sectors like Healthcare and financial services will seek out entire vertical end-to-end solutions from Cloud providers. They’ll want to transform expensive paper-based and legacy application systems and ideally access the solution in a telco-like utility manner.
Telcos and web hosting providers will be able to service this market through adopting Cloud BPM platforms: Business Process Management software that leverages Cloud technologies.
The types of functions these apps will offer will include:
- Conversion of paper-based workflow forms
- Imaging and document management
- E-Payment, check processing and funds transfer facilities
- Legacy application data integration
- Email and Sharepoint file archiving
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