The three traditional pillars of cloud computing — SaaS, PaaS and IaaS — now support such a range of services that IT, and business, is entering the ‘Everything as a Service’ or XaaS era.
As soon as internet connectivity became widely available at reasonable speed, and offered low enough latency, service providers of various kinds began offering scalable, on-demand products that were delivered over those connections.
There are now thousands of SaaS applications, available from internet giants to startups, along with services from rather fewer providers of the other two key pillars of cloud computing: platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Here’s how analyst firm Gartner characterises these foundational cloud services in comparison to more traditional methods of IT delivery:
With SaaS, service consumers control their data, but everything else in the IT stack is managed by the service provider. With PaaS, the application layer comes into play, while IaaS consumers control everything from the OS layer upwards.
The contrast with traditional on-premises (or private cloud) IT is very clear: the capital costs associated with equipping and maintaining data centres full of physical and virtual servers, networking and storage are someone else’s problem — and large service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google can solve that problem far easier than the average business can. As a customer, you just pay for what you use.
The fundamental benefits of the ‘as a service’ model are well known, and include: a shift from capital to operational expenditure (capex to opex), often leading to lower TCO (total cost of ownership); access for businesses of all sizes to up-to-date technology, maintained by service providers that can leverage economies of scale; scalability according to business requirements; fast implementation times for new applications and business processes; freeing up staff and resources for other projects and priorities.
Of course there are potential downsides to ‘as-a-service’ adoption, which include: service outages; security, governance and compliance issues; inadequate performance; hidden costs (including the cost of integrating and managing multiple cloud services, and of handling potentially large amounts of data); service provider lock-in; and customer support issues.
Most of these potential problems can be minimised with good planning and a tightly-defined SLA (Service Level Agreement), but businesses will need to remain vigilant in order to minimise them — and also realise that public cloud deployment will not be the answer for every IT workload or business process.
Increasingly, ‘everything’ in the IT sphere can be delivered as a service via the internet. There will always be pros and cons of outsourcing versus in-house deployment, but given service provider openness and buyer due diligence, organizations should be able to allocate their workloads and business processes across these locations in something approaching an optimal manner.
However, as XaaS uptake rises and the IoT (in particular) makes its presence felt, issues like internet bandwidth and latency, and data storage/retrieval times, are likely to become ever more pressing — along with the need to integrate, manage and secure multiple cloud services.
Original Article by ZDNet / Charles McLellan/2017