Sure, we've all  heard of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Now the next logical concept in cloud computing has been introduced - "IT as a Service." That sounds interesting, but also be a bit scary. The man who said it, VMware CEO Paul Maritz, has an extremely vested interest, though this doesn't make his overall points any less valid. At last week's VMWorld, he introduced products and concepts that take cloud-based computing to loftier levels than ever and suggest an entire re-imagining of the IT infrastructures that have run our organizations for the past 25 years. Are you along for the ride?

Noting that SaaS apps are firmly entrenched in corporate culture, Maritz said VMware has 15 such applications in its workplace. "I didn't approve a single one and they don't need a single sign on," Maritz noted. "We're going to have to deal with these new applications, or IT is going to be left holding the bag."

The trade press gave that quote a lot of attention since a pioneer of cloud computing acknowledged that the concept is inherently chaotic without the logins and security that IT has traditionally controlled locally. Naturally, he then described the offerings he has in mind to address that very issue.

Among these new products is VMware View 4.5 desktop management software, described in press release speak as "a complete, virtual desktop solution that enables enterprises to improve security, lower operating costs and simplify desktop administration and management by establishing a modern, end-user computing architecture." The end user gets both a virtual desktop through a LAN or WAN and a "Local Mode" that gives you secure offline access through a personal computer. Maritz says this stateless virtual desktop will cost about $250 per user, which is 60 percent less than earlier VMware solutions.

"View delivers a personalized, uncompromising desktop experience across nearly any end user device including Microsoft Windows and Mac devices, Zero Clients, thin clients, kiosks and new computing platforms such as the Apple iPhone and iPad, as well as Android devices," he continued. "This capability enables new flexible desktop models, supporting contractors and employees leveraging their own endpoint devices."

Translation: this kind of "hybrid cloud" setup may be the solution that allows IT to integrate the numerous gadgets and gizmos that users are begging to be allowed to use, with far less hassle.

But does less hassle mean fewer IT jobs? "VMware View Administrator continues to drive simplification of virtual desktop management through a single administrative interface," Maritz said. If you're the paranoid type, you can easily read a "benefit statement" like that and see a pink slip. Efficiency and cost savings are wonderful until the cost being saved is your salary. It makes total sense for organizations of all sizes to look for ways to offload as much of their data center infrastructure as possible to specialized providers who can handle the load with equivalent speed and security - always a challenging task - at a lower cost.

That leaves traditional corporate IT workers surveying a rapidly changing landscape where they may or may not have a future stake to claim. The logical reaction: join the cloud computing club and be part of the great migration. Don't be the person who stays behind scanning the horizon and thinking about how scary the future looks. True, this is all happening much faster than the experts predicted a few years ago, but that simply means you have to work harder to keep up with it all.

-- Don Willmott