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What is XaaS (Anything-as-a-Service)?

What is XaaS (Anything-as-a-Service)?

Three common cloud services are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)—collectively known as (SPIaaS)—but more and more vendors are coming up with new ways of delivering traditional services via the cloud. These creative approaches have led to the concept of "anything" as a Service" or X-as-a-Service (XaaS), where the X represents an unknown value, just like it did in your middle school algebra classes.

XaaS, the essence of cloud computing, refers to an increasing number of services that are delivered via the Internet, rather than provided locally or on-site. Plus, analysts recently forecasted the global XaaS market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 38.22% between 2016-2020.

While the three services below are the core models of today's cloud solutions, more and more companies are looking for additional ways to capitalize on the benefits of cloud computing.

  • Software-as-a-Service allows cloud-based access to programs, alleviating the need for local installations, local updates, and local support for those software packages. SaaS includes Microsoft's Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce, etc. As a general rule, SaaS is targeted on end users.
  • Platform-as-a-Service is focused more on the development team, providing them with a preconfigured, consistent dev and testing platform without the effort or expense of maintaining that environment in-house.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service gives the IT staff the flexibility to deploy virtual machines in the vendor's data center, configure those VMs with the desired operating system, services, applications, etc and manage the systems remotely. Examples of IaaS include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Cloud services can be hosted elsewhere, measured and paid for on an as-needed basis or a subscription fee, and accessed via the Internet. Responsibility for the underlying support for these services is off-loaded onto a cloud provider (Microsoft, Amazon, etc), which often results in a cost savings.

Besides the typical SPIaaS offerings discussed above, other examples include Database, Storage, Windows, and even Malware as a Service:

Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS)
Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS)relies on a provider's physical infrastructure, while the customer's DBAs manage the database and its content. In this model, cost savings come in the usual way: Less physical infrastructure for the organization and less staff to manage the data. There may also be increased access to the data. Scalability of services is also relatively quick, ensuring performance needs are met. Amazon is a provider, as is Microsoft. You may also see solutions from Google and Heroku.

Another very important use of the cloud model is Storage-as-a-Service. Often targeting home users and small or medium sized organizations, this solution allows access to a storage infrastructure where backups can be maintained without the significant investment of hard drive / tape libraries and the staff to maintain them. Scheduled backups can occur across the Internet connection to the provider and SLAs protect the customer data. Players in this arena include Amazon, Google Cloud Storage, Rackspace, and many others.

Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS)
Cyber attacks are now also available as a service. These may include Distributed-Denial-of-Service-as-a-Service (DDoSaaS), Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS), etc. These services are being marketed out as attack tools, meaning a change in how companies manage cybersecurity will be essential. Ransomware is also big in this area. These are over-the-counter solutions that are sophisticated, effective and coming from highly organized providers. Distributed Denial of Service attacks are being offered as a service to disgruntled, frustrated entities who can cheaply and easily target those they perceived to have wronged them.

Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS)
Windows-as-a-Service can bring some confusion to the discussion. Windows 10 is a versionless Windows deployment that simplifies the update and feature release processes for organizations using the OS. This is not a traditional "as a Service" implementation, because you still have a local copy of the OS running on your machine. Think of this Microsoft solution as a service for better managing updates and feature releases.

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The trend in IT is to provide anything as a service, relying on cloud technologies, a measurable service use and a subscription model that makes it easy to package a service and offer it to others, while hiding the complexity and support issues of the service framework from the customer.

Damon GarnAuthor: Damon Garn, Technical Instructor
MCT, MCSA, MCITP:SA, MCSE:S, CloudMASTER, RHCSA, ITIL, Linux+/LPIC-1, Security+, Network+, A+

Damon has nearly 16 years of experience as a classroom and online instructor, specializing in Windows Server and Linux courses. He is an experienced admin who enjoys empowering students with knowledge and ideas. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and playing guitar.

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