Industrialized countries are becoming increasingly reliant on their service economies driven by the fast pace of technological development. Traditional service-based businesses aside, almost every business is now taking advantage of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). That’s where it all started, and it’s still by far the largest distribution model of all. Chances are you’ve already been using web-based email for years, which is the most common form of SaaS.
Thanks to near-ubiquitous internet connectivity and the fact that almost everyone now owns at least one mobile device, more and more services are being delivered over the internet. The rise of distributed computing models empowered by the cloud has given businesses access to practically a limitless supply of computing power and information storage to the extent the traditional desktop workstation is disappearing from the office.
The rise of Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS)
XaaS is an umbrella term referring to any kind of technology-based service delivered over the internet. While there are many services aimed towards consumers, the term is usually used to refer to services designed for business use. Although end-user experiences are the same, XaaS provides a far greater degree of cost control and flexibility than deploying services on in-house servers and networks.
The three main areas of XaaS include: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. SaaS refers to any web-based app hosted in the cloud like Office 365, and is widely used by both consumers and businesses. Businesses, however, are also turning towards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). PaaS is a highly versatile model, which enables users to create and modify their own cloud-based systems rather than relying on off-the-shelf solutions. IaaS is all about the underlying hardware capabilities, such as computing power and storage space. Many businesses now rent these resources, accessing them through the internet rather than relying on in-house servers.
Additionally, there are dozens more online services tailored for business use. Examples include disaster recovery, databases, wide area networks (WANs), and business continuity, all of which can be delivered over the web. The service economy is so widespread that it has even penetrated black markets with the rise of Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) sold over the dark web.
How can XaaS benefit your business?
Most organizations choose XaaS because service-based models reduce costs and simplify IT deployments. The services are proactively maintained and kept up to date by the organization that provides them, so obsolescence no longer makes business technology a costly burden. There’s also a reduced need for having on-site IT expertise and physical overhead in the form of physical space, cooling, and power. Instead of on-site servers and workstations doing all the computing work, everything is handled in a remote data center, typically one belonging to a major cloud provider like Amazon, Google, or Microsoft.
Yet despite the benefits of XaaS, it’s not a solution for everything. In some cases, there may be security, privacy, or compliance issues when putting your data in the care of a third-party provider. Fortunately, most of these can be mitigated by choosing the right service provider. On top of that, not every computing workload is well-suited to a distributed computing model. Those with especially strict latency requirements, for example, are still better off being handled in-house. Again, the rise of edge computing has the solution for many of these shortcomings by combining the power of the cloud with the convenience and performance of local computing.
As major cloud providers address the few remaining concerns and limitations of XaaS, it will undoubtedly continue to grow and, in doing so, provide an unprecedented degree of flexibility and scalability to smaller businesses.
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