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Decoding the “as a Service” Models

By: Ernest Sampera on October 22, 2021

The old expression “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” once had a very appropriate place within the world of IT. When organizations needed to perform a specific task, they frequently had to build those capabilities from scratch or integrate an existing software solution into their system. This resulted in quite a bit of redundancy and inefficiency, which continually ate away at the bottom line of IT budgets and made it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances. Thanks to the development of cloud computing and innovative “as a service” offerings, the door to true digital transformation has never been more open.

What Is the Anything as a Service (XaaS) model?

The cloud computing revolution has fundamentally altered the way organizations build their networks, deploy applications, and manage their data. Where companies once needed to procure and maintain costly infrastructure to satisfy their IT requirements, they can now turn to any number of cloud platforms to obtain the services they need.

Although these platforms come in a variety of forms and packages, they all fall under the broad category of “Anything as a Service” or XaaS. On a basic level, an XaaS model consists of any products, tools, or technologies that are delivered to end users over a network using a service-based payment or subscription model. The key distinction of “as-a-service” platforms is the online component, since they are not provided by local or on-premises infrastructure. Most XaaS tools are delivered over a standard internet connection, which makes them accessible remotely to almost any customer willing to pay for them.

What Are the Benefits of an “as a Service” Model?

There are a few important benefits organizations enjoy by using an XaaS platform to support their IT needs. The most obvious is reduced costs. Traditional IT deployments involve substantial capital investments in terms of building out infrastructure, to say nothing of ongoing maintenance and toil necessary to keep it all up and running. Servers and other equipment also wear out and need to be replaced, creating additional costs over a period of several years. An “as a service” model eliminates these costs in favor of operational expenses based on resource utilization. Most XaaS platforms are also able to distribute costs across multiple users.

Another key advantage of the “as a service” model is that organizations can quickly scale their IT capabilities based on actual need. When managing an on-premises deployment, the only way to increase capacity is to add more servers, which is not only expensive, but takes time and effort. By the time those resources are added, they may no longer be needed, which leaves companies stuck paying for servers they’re not getting any benefit from. Leveraging an XaaS platform allows IT departments to quickly spin up additional resources to handle increased customer demand, test new applications, or store incoming data in a short period of time. Once the need for those resources has passed, they can even scale back to ensure that they’re only paying for the resources they need.

Today’s networks are also incredibly complex, and few organizations possess the technical expertise to build everything from scratch. Thanks to XaaS platforms, it’s now easy to leverage proven solutions instead of implementing them in house. There’s no reason, for example, to build an IT ticketing system or contract management solution when a cloud-based option is available and easy to implement. Rather than spending valuable resources building tools and applications that already exist elsewhere, IT personnel can instead focus on building innovative solutions and technology that will help their organization reach new customers and create new business opportunities.

What Are the Disadvantages of an “as a Service” Model?

Although cloud computing has become a dominant force in today’s IT landscape, it isn’t always the ideal solution for every organization or business context. One key area of concern remains control and security as it pertains to sensitive data. Although public XaaS platforms generally are generally quite secure, many industries simply cannot afford to store data in an environment they don’t have complete control and visibility over. Strict compliance standards often require organizations to maintain private servers stored in an on-premises solution or within a colocation data center.

A related concern involves long-term control over data. There is a tendency of XaaS-based deployments to sprawl due to the (initial) low cost of storage and processing resources. However, this makes it very difficult for organizations to effectively remove their data and applications from the cloud environment, which effectively leads to a form of vendor lock-in. The situation becomes even more complicated if the provider goes out of business, which forces IT departments to quickly migrate their sprawling deployment into another environment without causing prolonged downtime.

And speaking of downtime, losing access to data and applications is another cause for concern when it comes to “as-a-service” platforms. Even high profile cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), rarely offer uptime SLA guarantees greater than 99.99%. While this might sound substantial, it actually translates into several minutes of downtime each month, which can quickly add up over the course of a year, especially if that downtime comes during periods of high customer traffic or internal usage.

There’s also the question of long-term costs. While XaaS solutions generally offer great cost savings in the early stages of a deployment, there is a diminishing return as an organization scales. At a certain point, an enterprise’s IT deployment becomes so complex and multifaceted that it would be more efficient to build out the customized infrastructure to support it rather than relying upon endlessly expanding cloud resources. Colocation data centers often provide the best of both worlds, allowing companies to place hardware designed specifically for their needs within the most efficient and reliable infrastructure available. 

What Are the Types of “as a Service” Models?

There are many different forms of XaaS models available, some of which are highly specialized and industry-specific. Generally speaking, they fall into one of four broad categories:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): A SaaS model delivers a fully-developed application that runs directly through a web browser. There’s no need to download a program, install middleware, or deploy specialized hardware. 
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): A PaaS model provides the tools necessary to build, test, deploy, and manage software applications. It combines virtualized processing resources with an operating system and development tools, all of which is accessible over an internet connection without having to build specialized on-premises machines.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The foundational element of cloud computing, IaaS solutions consist of raw processing resources that customers can use to run virtualized servers, operating systems, and storage databases.
  • Function as a Service (FaaS): One of the more simplistic forms of cloud computing, FaaS is used to execute specific code under specific conditions without having to provision or allocate resources manually. It’s frequently used to spin up additional processing power during periods of high demand.

While there are many other “as-a-service” offerings available, such as Database as a Service (DBaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and Storage as a Service (STaaS), the majority of them utilize some combination of the four categories outlined above. 

Making the Most of an “as a Service” Provider with a Colocation Partner

Organizations can take advantage of XaaS solutions without sacrificing control over their mission-critical assets by partnering with a colocation data center. Once servers are placed within a carrier-neutral data center environment, organizations can tap into myriad services through a combination of cross connections and direct cloud on-ramps. They can even use multi-cloud deployments to create a true XaaS network that incorporates a wide variety of platforms and software tools all while maintaining control over data and workload placement.

With multiple data center locations across the United States, vXchnge has worked hard to create the ideal IT infrastructure for today’s organizations. Colocation customers can choose from a variety of ISPs and connect to the world’s leading “as a service” providers while also monitoring every aspect of their deployment through the revolutionary in\site platform. Our data centers are engineered for perfection and backed up by 100% uptime SLAs to keep your network up and running when your business needs it most. To learn more about how you can unlock the full potential of XaaS solutions within a vXchnge data center, talk to one of our colocation specialists today.

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