By Lynn Tan, ZDNet Asia 17/10/2007 URL: http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/business/0,39044229,62033422,00.htm

SINGAPORE--Technology as a service is emerging as an alternative IT delivery model, offering businesses in the Asia-Pacific region a strong value proposition, according to Gartner.

At a Gartner seminar held here Tuesday, Rolf Jester, Gartner's vice president and distinguished analyst of global IT services research, highlighted several new ways to deliver IT. They include software as a service (SaaS), storage as a service, grid computing, and business process utility.

Jester described these as examples of technology as a service, where the technology asset, such as the hardware and software, is owned, housed and managed by a service provider who charges on a usage basis.

He noted that while the best known example of technology as a service is SaaS, which has been adopted by large enterprises, as well as "many small companies", storage as a service is starting to emerge, particularly in the area of backup.

"Everyone knows they need to do it (backup), but many people don't have good processes for backup, and they haven't really invested in that," Jester said.

While companies today may want to own their storage products, a backup and archiving service provider can offer greater security, the Gartner analyst noted. For example, businesses can tap on the storage service for archiving e-mail, which is important for certain compliance regulations.

Hoping to tap on this emerging opportunity are HDS and Symantec which announced this year their storage as a service strategies, dubbed Services Oriented Storage Solutions and Storage United, respectively.

Jester also noted the emergence of other technologies being delivered as a service. "We have witnessed some companies providing a server environment across the Internet to small and midsize businesses (SMBs), as well as companies providing a hub for transaction processing," he said.

"Business processes are already available as a utility in some cases," he added.

Looking beyond the short-term potential, Jester said "just about every business" will be attracted to some of these models in the long term.

According to Jester, the Asia-Pacific region and Eastern Europe are the early adopters of these alternative delivery models, particularly countries with high economic growth.

"High growth countries, such as India and China, will adopt the model for their own domestic markets, but not for their export markets," he noted.

"In China for instance, retailing, transportation, banking and insurance are going through such rapid growth that the companies investing in those businesses don't have the time nor the inclination to worry about building a lot of customized IT," Jester said. "If they can find it, they would very happily adopt technology as a service in many cases."