By Megan R. Nichols
Recent advancements in cloud infrastructure and a growing demand for computing resources have led to the rapid proliferation of cloud- and service-based business models — like software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and more.
Businesses that have deep cloud expertise and experience with other -as-a-service models are broadening their offerings and making the switch to a new kind of on-demand cloud computing service — the X- or anything-as-a-service (or XaaS) model.
Here's what XaaS looks like right now, and how to determine if the model is a good fit for your business.
What Is XaaS?
Over the past few years, as the demand for cloud computing and the number of -as-a-service business models has grown rapidly, companies have begun offering a variety of resources over the cloud. These services include virtual desktops, software containerization and management, data storage and more. Each of these things outsources a different piece of what has traditionally been done or provided by in-house IT services.
XaaS is a broad term that encompasses the other as-a-service business models — software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, and so on. XaaS builds on these models and seeks to either deliver or source all these services as needed — effectively, acting as an off-site IT solution for other businesses. For this reason, you'll also see XaaS sometimes called ITaaS, or IT-as-a-service.
A company that needs some or all of the services and resources typically provided by an IT department will work with an XaaS company. The XaaS business will either provide the necessary services itself or act as an IT broker or agent. It will source the SaaS, PaaS and other cloud computing solutions that will work best for its clients' development cycle and general needs.
When Should A Business Pivot To XaaS?
A pivot to XaaS can be an effective strategy for businesses wanting to commercialize their existing cloud knowledge. Your team may already have deep expertise and familiarity with both the cloud services your business offers and the leaders in other services — like Amazon Web Services for general cloud computing resources or Salesforce for cloud-based CRMs. If so, it's possible to both sell your own product and leverage your employee's knowledge to provide a comprehensive IT solution for other businesses.
Even if you can't provide certain services or resources yourself, your team probably has a good sense of what businesses do deliver those resources. It knows the best place to purchase or lease cloud storage, compute power and whatever IT solution a given company needs.
There are also ways to pivot to XaaS beyond the ITaaS model. While some companies focus on providing IT-as-a-service for other businesses, others adopt the XaaS model to streamline and modernize internal operations.
These companies move as much of their internal operations as possible to the cloud and partner with other businesses that provide all-in-one solutions to problems that may have previously been solved in-house. For example, a company may move its data storage from physical servers to the cloud while also partnering with companies that provide cloud-based alternatives to the software solutions they currently use. This model can free up IT staff to work with other employees and ensure every team member has access to the computing resources they need.
Which XaaS method will be the best fit for your business will depend on its needs, current client relationships and future goals.
In either case, now is a good time for businesses to make the switch, as most major industry predictions forecast the cloud computing boom will continue in the near future as demand for cloud solutions increases.
Cloud-based IT offers several advantages for businesses, which is why so many are making the change — and also why it's possible for so many companies to provide XaaS right now. Of all IT expenditures, cloud-based computing resources is the fastest-growing budget category, according to research from Spiceworks. A pivot to XaaS is likely to pay dividends if these trends hold.
Businesses that pivot to XaaS also will need to be ready to deal with some of the major implementation of security challenges of XaaS — like the difficulties of keeping confidential information secure when it is regularly trading hands and being stored on your servers. Some CIOs and IT professionals are naturally wary of keeping sensitive data on the cloud and may want more robust security standards and practices in place before moving that data off physical storage.
How XaaS Can Benefit Businesses
It is expected that demand for cloud-based resources and services will only increase over the next few years — which makes now a great time for businesses to invest in cloud-based solutions.
With XaaS, a company effectively sends its IT operations out into the cloud — allowing that business to streamline its internal processes or sell its expertise to other operations.
If your business already has deep cloud expertise, XaaS can be a way to commercialize that knowledge base. However, any company that wants to pivot to XaaS must be ready for the challenges posed by cloud-based IT solutions — like keeping data secure when it's stored on the cloud and regularly accessed by multiple unique parties.
About The Author
Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer and regularly contributes to sites like The Boss Magazine and Industry Today. Megan also publishes easy to understand tech articles on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys seeing movies, star gazing and hiking local trails. Keep up with Megan by following her on Twitter.