The pandemic has forced many businesses to accelerate their digital transformation efforts – and that’s actually a good thing. As companies realized the need to shift from on-premise to cloud-based solutions, providers also realized the need to shift to more flexible business models. Organizations of all sizes no longer want to pay the upfront costs involved with purchasing hardware or software, and instead only want to pay for the services they actually use.
Hence, the popularity of the “as a Service” (aaS) model.
For example, if you wanted to go on a boat ride, you could buy a boat and then pay to dock, maintain, insure and fuel it for years to come. Or, you could simply pay someone to take you out on their boat whenever you wanted to get out on the water. This would be boating as a service – and obviously it has some advantages.
There is now an array of technologies that are being offered “as a Service”, including IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, and XaaS. Here’s a brief look at these various cloud service models and the differences between them.
Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS provides customers with cloud computing infrastructure, which includes components such as servers, networks, operating systems and data storage. Enterprises can easily scale up or down according to their needs, without having to invest in pricey hardware or data centers. You only pay for what you use. Popular examples of IaaS include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metacloud, and Rackspace.
Software as a Service – The traditional model of using software required that you buy software, download it, install it on a device, and update it on a regular basis. Now, with SaaS, users can easily access and use a variety of software from any device with an internet connection, and updates are automatically applied, ensuring you are always working with the latest technology. Popular examples of SaaS include Cisco WebEx, Salesforce, Google Workspace, and SAP Concur.
Platform as a Service –"PaaS" supports and enhances application development by giving you the necessary software, infrastructure, and tools you need. With PaaS, developers have a framework that empowers them to quickly build custom applications, with less coding. PaaS also lets developers worry less about operating systems, software updates, storage or infrastructure, and instead focus on what they do best. Examples of PaaS include Microsoft Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstock, and Google App Engine.
Anything as a Service – For the vast number of solutions, tools and technologies that are offered as a service, but don’t easily fall into the categories above, the term “Anything as a Service” (XaaS) has been coined. This encompasses the whole category of cloud computing services that are delivered over the Internet. XaaS can reduce costs for businesses with a pay-as-you-go model, eliminating the need to purchase multiple products and also transfers capital expenses into operating costs. XaaS can also speed new products to market, automate business processes, and free up IT resources to focus on innovation.