From infrastructure to disaster recovery, platform to software, virtual desktops to applications and customer relationship management, there are a massive amount of business services now available off-premise as cloud-based solutions.
“IT itself has transitioned from being local or on-site to on-demand, irrespective of where users are situated,” says Louis Pienaar, BU Head of Cloud Core Services at EOH. “In fact, there has been such a surge in cloud-based technology, they can no longer all be categorised under a single, generic umbrella such as SaaS, but are now categorised in an over-arching term called XaaS.”
He says XaaS is a collective term that’s also known as anything as a service or simply everything as a service. “The possibilities are endless. We have Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service. Despite being relatively in its infancy, XaaS is covering a lot of ground, and is being adopted in major enterprises all over the globe.”
So what does XaaS mean for local businesses? “On-demand services will allow SA businesses to focus on their core business goals and operations, instead of having to deal with underlying infrastructure and systems. This will allow them to respond more rapidly to new business opportunities. In addition, they will have access to new and better technologies as well as scalability to accommodate changes in the workforce more easily. It also shifts costs from capital to operational expenses freeing up funds which can be channelled into innovation and other projects to drive growth,” Pienaar says.
According to Pienaar, although many SA businesses are already using SaaS for several business functions, including email, HR and customer relationship management (CRM), there are other areas they could benefit from.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offers the hardware and software tools that are needed to develop and deploy applications. The PaaS provider hosts all the hardware and software on their infrastructure, meaning organisations do not have to buy, manage and install their own, but can reap the benefits without any of the hassle.
Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) is essentially a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that is also hosted by a cloud services provider. This allows organisations to access their desktops from any device. DaaS is cost effective, and can relieve SA businesses from the IT responsibilities of maintaining their own infrastructure for their virtual desktops and applications.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) offers the resources, such as networking, storage and operating systems, on demand through cloud service providers. Users are able to self-provision this infrastructure, using a Web-based interface that functions as an IT operations management console for the IaaS environment. IaaS can lower infrastructure costs, offer virtually limitless scalability and agility, and quicken time to market.
Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) is useful in the unfortunate event of a natural disaster, a breach or any system failure. It helps to ensure business continuity by replicating and hosting servers and applications to lower any disruption and downtime.
Security-as-a-Service (SECaas) offers comprehensive security tools and solutions to businesses without the massive budgets to invest in expensive on-premise tools. This model sees a large service provider integrating their security services into a corporate infrastructure on a subscription basis more cost effectively than most individuals or corporations can provide on their own, when bearing the total cost of ownership in mind
Ultimately, Xaas is a simple and cost-effective way to handle technology needs. It offers South African businesses increased agility, flexibility and scalability, which in turn, makes room for growth in innovation. “It allows businesses to take advantage of new technologies, as providers are able to respond more quickly to market developments. It also allows companies to budget and predict expenditure more effectively, which again lowers costs,” Pienaar says.
XaaS is inexorably changing the way IT and software is viewed and used. Connectivity and far quicker computing platforms are pushing all manner of services to the Web where they can be acquired on demand, instead of having to invest in, and have the hassle of managing, expensive on-site infrastructure. “XaaS is so popular that almost any type of hardware, software, IT or business process you can think of, is being offered on a cloud-based basis,” he concludes.