Anything as a Service (XaaS) refers to the use of technologies and tools that can be connected over networks and converged to be productized. It uses cloud computing and the internet instead of on-site infrastructure to provide various services, to provide users flexibility to run their businesses. XaaS is also a generically broad term that can refer to any tool, application, service, or game that can be delivered through the cloud rather than obtained on-premise or in a physical format. Many XaaS providers offer users flexibility in their consumption and payment models, rather than a traditional purchase or license model requiring upfront payments regardless of usage volume. Alternatively, XaaS providers can provide pay-per-use payment models.
The core idea behind XaaS and other cloud services is to allow businesses to reduce their capital costs and some operating costs (such as IT teams or security teams) while allowing those businesses to continue to receive the resources they require. Except, instead of developing them in-house or purchasing them in a licensing model, these businesses can purchase the services on a subscription basis, buying what they need and paying for it as they go. And by offering multi-tenant approaches, XaaS services can offer a lot of flexibility, especially as businesses can add or subtract services as needed. Many services are governed by service level agreements (SLA), in which the client and vendor work to understand how services will be provided.
XaaS solutions have become popular because they can reduce equipment costs and minimize the cost of ownership; offer users flexible, adaptable, and scalable platforms with features that can be added and removed as needed; and do not require extra payments at any time. Further, they are seen as giving businesses more resources to focus on pursuing their business and related developments. The following are some of the more popular types of XaaS offerings:
- Software as a service (SaaS)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
- Storage as a service (StaaS)
- Data as a service (DaaS)
- Database as a service (DBaaS)
- Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)
- Communications as a service (CaaS)
- Network as a service (NaaS)
There are several benefits of XaaS, including improving the expense model, speeding new applications and business processes, and shifting IT resources to other projects.
With XaaS, businesses are able to cut costs through the subscription model of service providers, rather than having to buy individual products, such as software, hardware, servers, security, and infrastructure. Let alone the work to connect and create the networks necessary. XaaS businesses buy what they need and pay as they go while reducing capital expenses and converting them into operating expenses.
The XaaS model allows businesses to adapt to changing market conditions and applications or solutions. Using multi-tenant approaches, cloud services can provide flexibility to the purchasing user. Resource pooling and rapid elasticity support mean businesses can add or subtract services as needed, allowing them to rapidly access technologies or scale infrastructure as needed.
As more organizations use XaaS delivered services, they are able to streamline operations and free resources for innovation, particularly in their IT departments. The XaaS model also allows organizations to transform digitally or become more agile; a survey by Deloitte found that 71 percent of companies reported XaaS now constitutes more than half of the company's enterprise IT, which can further provide users with access to new technologies and services and enhance innovation.
There are potential drawbacks or disadvantages of XaaS service models, including potential downtime, performance issues, and complexity.
With potential downtime of the internet, XaaS providers may encounter problems. The issues of internet reliability, resilience, provisioning, and managing infrastructure resources can harm XaaS service delivery. Especially when servers go down, users will be unable to use them and experience interruptions to their business.
As XaaS becomes more popular and more users are on the same platforms and networks, bandwidth, latency, data storage, and retrieval times can suffer. If too many customers use the same resources, the system can slow down, and applications running in virtualized environments can face impacts. In these complex environments, there can be issues around integrations, including the management and security of multiple cloud services.
While XaaS often relieves IT staff of day-to-day operational concerns, if something goes wrong in the XaaS delivery, it can be harder to troubleshoot—not only because the on-site IT staff may have little experience with the platform, but the XaaS support staff may be unable to distinguish the source of a problem, especially with the variety of integrations. The costs for maintaining high-performing networks increase, although the cost savings of XaaS models tend to be greater. Nonetheless, some companies want to retain visibility into their XaaS service provider's environment and infrastructure. And if an XaaS provider is acquired, discontinues a service, or otherwise alters its services or roadmap, it can have an impact on XaaS users.
There are countless examples of XaaS, and many of the common models encompass cloud computing models, including software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). SaaS is one of the better known types of XaaS, offering a range of software applications, such as Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, or Salesforce, to users. PaaS offerings, perhaps less well known than SaaS, typically provide preconfigured virtual machines (VMs) and other resources for the development and testing of applications, with providers such as AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, Force.com, Google App Engine, or Apache Stratos.
IaaS offers the ability to deploy and configure virtual machines hosted in a vendor's data center and allows organizations to manage those VMs remotely. IaaS service providers have included Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and AWS Elastic Compute Cloud. While other services, both common and emerging, have included storage as a service, which provides application, data, and backup storage systems in the cloud; database as a service, which provides users access to a database platform through the cloud; malware as a service, which uses the cloud to help organizations guard against common attacks, such as ransomware or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks; and communications as a service, or popular versions of these platforms, which offer users various communication services that can be integrated into their back-end or front-end services while being delivered over the cloud.
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