We are seeing increased adoption of cloud offerings such as Gmail, iCloud and Dropbox proving that individuals are becoming more at peace with consuming services out of the cloud while trusting the provider to have their interests at heart. These individuals in turn are the ones setting strategies in the enterprise and now accepting that Cloud as a service delivery model is a real consideration.

However, cloud is all about highly leveraged, shared, flexible and pay for what you use. These features can instil bouts of cold sweats into even the most hardened CIO. So, what can they do to embrace the benefits of a Cloud solution, whilst avoiding the perceived risks associated with it in the interim until they are sufficiently at peace with it?

One answer is Software as a Service (SaaS). Flex in an organisation is valuable. Agility is the lifeblood of any enterprise – Adapt to survive. However, there are certain systems and services where it isnt so much flex as a gentle sway.

User numbers and transaction volumes are known and relatively static so the pay-as-you-use billing model of cloud is not necessarily a compelling argument. Further, if Cloud is just too new and too much of a risk to relax into, then a trusted VPN connection to a trusted provider is your friend.

SaaS is not a cloud model but it isnt a traditional in house model either. It is the mid point. Not quite either but delivering most of the control of the latter whilst delivering a healthy measure of the economic benefits of the former. It is therefore a service option to be considered alongside the usual suspects when defining a service strategy.

Inhouse, managed service, SaaS or Cloud. The weapon of choice is choice itself. Choice now, in 2012 has more power than ever before. Through being able to pick and choose the optimal delivery mechanism for new services, the enterprise has the ability to leverage the best features of each mechanism whilst balancing the risks.

The main inhibitor to the uptake of Cloud is that whilst the consumer is happy to announce their whereabouts on FourSquare or Tweet about their latest gadget, the enterprise still needs to think in terms of brand protection and risk.

This inevitably turns the conversation to matters of security, integrity and robustness. Hence the fear of the cloud as it doesn’t involve the same gatekeeper mentality and has a feel of lack of control. SaaS therefore is a credible step in the direction of cloud but one that allows you to take it at a more accommodating pace, appropriate for your capacity to handle change.