Using some cloud product or service within the model ‘as-a-service’ (‘…aaS’ in the abbreviation) is on-demand usage. The economic meaning of the XaaS concept is — pay if you use it. The cloud market offers many services that are delivered to users in the XaaS format.
In normal life, you can find many examples of XaaS services. One of them is a seaside hotel — you pay for the room only of days of your stay and stop paying when you leave there. Vacation is over, and your needs for these services are fully satisfied.
Is it profitable? Yes, it is, if we compare to the alternative — buying a villa at the same seaside. You invest in the purchase of the real estate, in maintaining, in furniture and necessary household equipment. You have to pay regularly for utilities, security, perhaps cleaning the house and caring for the front garden. But you come to the villa only for a couple of weeks a year, on vacation. The rest of the time, you have no benefits from your seaside real estate, and you just waste money. Purchasing a villa is a DIY, do-it-yourself concept.
In IT, the infrastructure creating in accordance with the DIY concept involves the buying of server and network equipment, maintaining its operability, administration, and support, including regular hardware upgrades and software updates. Also, you must set on foot the server room with special technical standards: power supply, air conditioning, network communications, raised access floor, fire prevention equipment, and so on. It is critical to provide redundancy, which means the duplication of all critical server and network equipment. All these huge costs are borne by the company’s budget, and it takes years and even decades to reach profitability.
Against this background, the XaaS concept is much more economical. There is no need to purchase equipment and maintain special conditions for its stable and uninterrupted operation if it is possible to rent capacities or software deployed at the service provider’s cloud platform. And therefore, the demand from the business for such a service format is constantly growing, and the supply is replenished with new services in the same way.
In the article Cloud Service Models: What does IaaS, PaaS, SaaS mean? we described three key cloud service models.
Technological origins of most of XaaS cloud microservices is close to the software-as-a-service SaaS model. The consumer of the cloud-service can choose and install applications and services which he needs to use in the cloud — data backup and recovering, content management, database, cloud storage, communications, monitoring, backend, payments, and even malware. XaaS assortment is constantly updated with new items. And even if the provider cannot to the customer a XaaS developed by the provider, it is no problem: integration with the service of another vendor is often possible — the clouds allow it.
The XaaS approach is highly correlated with BYOD, bring-your-own-device, a corporate IT management model, without which it is now difficult to imagine any modern company. Under this model, company employees use their own devices — smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, laptops — to access the corporate information system. The problem of reducing the level of information security within the BYOD model was solved by the concept of access and management of the company’s IT resources through APIs. Some companies on the market offer customers to use API-as-a-Service.
Digital transformation forms particular demands on the organization of business processes, and the XaaS concept is fully complying with them. Business benefits from XaaS are costs and risk reduction, process and staff optimization, regular support, and updates by the provider, flexibility in cost forecasting, and management. Also, serious providers always bear financial liabilities to customers, pointed in the Service Level Agreement, a document that describes the quality assurance of the delivered services.
In XaaS abbreviation, ‘X’ is a variable parameter that means the first symbol in the name of the additional cloud service. Due to it sometimes there are mismatches. Either different providers give the same products different names, or on the contrary, different products have the same abbreviation — e.g., MaaS may mean Monitoring-as-a-service for some providers, Metal-as-a-service for others providers, and Malware-as-a-Service for other ones.
Another example is about backup cloud service. Some of the providers call it BaaS, Backup-as-a-Service, but other ones call it RaaS, Recovery-as-a-Service, that help to backup critical information and recover it on demand.
It is impossible to cover the whole vast range of services offered by the XaaS market within one article, and there is no need. Very often, XaaS solution providers make their services based on the needs of a narrow client segment. But there are a number of services that are most popular and are used most often. We will consider them.
We described some of the projects, implemented by SIM-Networks' experts, in our Use-cases. Read, please on the corporate website of SIM-Networks
This is one of the key points of corporate information security. Backup-as-a-Service allows you to make regular backups of data in the cloud and store them in remote storage. Remote storage of backups increases the resistance of information to various kinds of failures: even if the main system suffers from a cyber attack, natural disaster, and other acts-of-God, the data will survive. And after recovery from backups, the system will quickly return to working capacity.
SIM-Networks engineers developed and implemented in our cloud-based IaaS a specially adapted SIM-Cloud BaaS solution with excellent RTO and RPO. It is easily activated by the user from the cloud dashboard. Backup copies can be transferred to remote storage by two variants — either storage in the same Tier III+ data center where the main client infrastructure is deployed, or in Tier III+ data center remote from the main infrastructure. In the first case, the speed of data recovery is higher; in the second — the degree of data security increases further.
Sometimes RaaS is positioned as a stand-alone service from BaaS, more advanced in terms of data protection and application recovery speed. Some providers include it to the BaaS, often — associated with DRaaS.
We consider RaaS as a part of backup-as-a-service because we think it is illogical to separate data backup, storage, and data recovery into different services.
This complex service includes backup, recovery system tools, and full replication of all of the data, apps, and business processes. Actually, DRaaS clones the main infrastructure, and continuously updates it. In the case of a failure or disaster, the company’s work will continue in this additional infrastructure until the main system is restored. DRaaS is one of the main components of a business continuity strategy — BCM, Business Continuity Management.
Creating a redundant, fault-tolerant clone of the main infrastructure is a huge cost, unbearable for most companies. At the same time, cloud-based DRaaS is much more convenient, accessible, and provides additional protection delivered by the cloud provider.
As a rule, large and technologically mature providers offer this service. The MaaS allows a user to control the key parameters of the cloud infrastructure, the load on applications, as well as the operation of software installed in the cloud. The purpose of this service is to reduce the risks of infrastructure failure and business downtime, process optimization. The prospect of developing this area in the future is directly related to Big Data.
The SIM-Cloud IaaS has a CloudMon monitoring service developed by SIM-Networks infrastructure engineers.
It is very popular, one of the key XaaS. It allows companies to access databases without having to set up infrastructure or software. Database administration and maintenance manages by the cloud provider, but the customer just uses the database as a product
Sometimes this service names IaaS Plus, sometimes it’s considered as an intermediate version between the PaaS and IaaS models. The specifics of the Environment-as-a-Service is that the client receives the necessary environment for the development, testing, deployment of their applications, automated, integrated with the leading container solutions Kubernetes and Docker. EaaS solutions reduce cloud computing business costs, optimize infrastructure utilization, and increase performance.
A sophisticated infrastructure solution, EaaS, in an all-as-a-service meaning, offers customers a complete transformation of their existing enterprise infrastructure from on-premises to cloud solutions. This decision provides for radical changes in the company’s management strategy at all levels, business processes, approaches, and production management methodologies, etc. It includes the selection of configuration, configuration, implementation, migration from the local platform, purchase, and installation of all necessary software (including licenses), support, necessary updates to the system and its components, and other parameters. This is a project for the migration from on-premises to a flexible cloud architecture, which is completed on a turnkey basis..
MaaS is not a bare-metal server renting service, as it can be understood from the name. This is a solution for server orchestration. It allows you to consider physical servers as virtual machines, or instances, in the cloud. That is, instead of managing each server individually, MaaS consolidates the servers into a single flexible cloud resource pool.
This is a comprehensive SaaS-solution for providing communication services in the company, including Internet telephony, video calls, chats, and instant messengers, interfaces for working with documents, and other communication tools. Using this cloud software solution allows you to significantly save on infrastructure and software, while you can scale capacity, as is usually the case in cloud solutions.
Everyone knows that data encryption can protect their information from any interference, even if intruders can get it. Users who care about maintaining their confidential data take measures to protect it. Reliable and serious cloud service providers must provide comprehensive measures to protect the information of their customers. So, at SIM-Networks, information security of data and their media is provided at three levels:
But if you are not sure that your provider uses enough tools to secure your information, you can order the Encryption-as-a-Service solution from the developer of such services. Such products are usually easily integrated into the cloud environment of different vendors, although there are also those that depend on the platform where the cloud infrastructure is deployed.
In the article Data encryption protects the most important we explain why cryptography is so crucial in current IT.
Sometimes this service is also called MCaaS, managed content as a service. This is a real salvation for marketers who have to generate, adapt, optimize a variety of content for a variety of delivery channels to consumers. CaaS is a service that allows corporate users to place, manage, and structure content on various communication platforms, web, and multimedia applications.
This is a service that allows you to organize terminal access to a remote server using thin clients and the RDP protocol. When corporations realized that maintaining a fleet of personal computers, especially in companies with a multidivisional structure, was very expensive in all respects (maintenance, support, spare parts and components, IT staff), they began to look for optimization. But cloud technology solves this issue. Organizing a remote connection of tens and even hundreds of workstations to a terminal server using Desktop-as-a-Service is easy, flexible, economical, and very convenient.
Emulation-as-a-Service is a product that is in demand among developers and system architects. Emulation in IT means a hardware and software complex that imitates the main system. In Quality Assurance, for example, during cross-browser testing, SaaS solutions are used to track the operation of the application in various web browsers and mobile platforms.
It is an interesting solution for business to search for information using special tools across the Internet and corporate intranet informational networks.
This is a software-as-a-service solution, combining the connection of users to local, regional, and international payment systems through a common interface.
A kind of this service is TPaaS, Transaction payments-as-a-Service, payment transactions as a service
Well, speaking about XaaS, we usually mean products oriented solely to achieve legitimate goals by law-abiding citizens. But life gives a chance to everyone, without exception. And if there is a demand for cyber attacks, industrial espionage, confidential information leaks, there will be those who create tools for such actions. Why can’t software be developed to create viruses, worms, and trojans? And maybe it’s underway. And such “factories of malicious software” work on cloud servers, and interact with clients according to the SaaS model. Malware-as-a-Service products allow attackers to attack their victims, including through botnets that MaaS customers gain access to as part of the service.
How to counter attackers targeting your corporate IT systems, we described in the article Corporate cybersecurity: How to defend information values.
XaaS services give more comfortable working conditions for users in the cloud. Cloud providers try not only to satisfy the well-known requests of their customers but also to play with forecasts by proactively developing new services. For example, in the SIM-Cloud IaaS additional services are implemented:
The examples of XaaS solutions described in our article are just a small part of the services. Some of these solutions are used only for corporate purposes; some are aimed at an audience of developers and IT experts. Now we can say that the number of XaaS cloud products will appear every day more and more, while cloud technologies raise.
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