One of the more startling statements at the recent Electronic Design Processes (EDP) workshop
came in a presentation from James Colgan, CEO of Xuropa. At one point he
appeared to be saying that software-as-a-service (SaaS) is not the
right model for EDA, at least not for quite some time. But Xuropa was set up to
build an infrastructure for cloud computing and
SaaS for EDA. Did I hear James correctly?
Yes, but some clarification is needed. James' comment came
as he described what he calls the "cloud computing stack." In his view, it
consists of three elements:
At the top is "pure" SaaS, such as Quicken
Online and salesforce.com. At this
level, applications are written from the beginning to be web-based, they have a
consistent user interface, and they do not require interoperability with any
other application or data. The next level down, Platform-as-a-Service, includes
an integrated development environment (IDE), services, and compute resources
and storage facilities. Google
Application Engines is an example. The third level,
Infrastructure-as-a-Service, provides virtualized remote compute resources. Amazon Web Services is an example.
The crucial point is the anything above IaaS requires a
rewrite, and with complex EDA applications, that just isn't likely to happen.
Thus IaaS, not pure SaaS, represents the best current model for EDA, James
suggested. His presentation went on to show how Xuropa supports IaaS while
providing a web browser, user interface, identity management, security, and
other features on top of Amazon Web Services or internal data centers.
In a Xuropa
blog following the EDP workshop, James introduced "hybrid-SaaS" as a
"different type of SaaS" for enterprise software applications. Ideally, hybrid-SaaS
requires no code rewrites, permits easy installation,
and allows secure access by customers. James wrote that "because we're not going to re-write our code, we need to start at the infrastructure layer (IaaS) and work up." He promises more details about hybrid-SaaS in future Xuropa
Meanwhile, as I noted in a September
Industry Insights blog, Cadence Incisive
Verification IP (VIP) is available for evaluation on Xuropa Online Labs. Users can
test over 40 VIP products using Incisive Enterprise Simulator and Incisive
Enterprise Manager, with no need to purchase or license anything. As I wrote at
the time, this highly successful collaboration is not "pure" SaaS, since users
aren't getting actual design work done. Perhaps it is "hybrid-Saas." No matter
to end users - it's simply a fast and easy way to evaluate VIP.
James noted in his EDP presentation that a wholesale migration
to pure SaaS "is not going to happen. But if we take key aspects of it, the
cloud does make a lot of sense."
I think this gradual approach to SaaS does make sense.
Meanwhile, definitions of "cloud computing" and "SaaS" have been, shall we say,
a bit cloudy. Xuropa will do a service to the industry if it can help bring