XaaS – The IT Disrupter

Business transformation has taken another huge step forward and its thanks to the “as-a-service” movement that started with the cloud burst, today we are witnessing a new trend called Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) and it’s disrupting traditional systems and support.

One of the key driving factors of this model is a low commitment, start small and grow as and when you need, without committing to any particular configuration or design for long periods of time hoping you gain a return on investment based on predicted future usage.

Mobility and higher broadband speeds are also big deciding factor for XaaS as the platforms are cloud-based enabling access to resources wherever the users might be located and on whatever device they choose to use.

Enterprise organisations such as Cisco, Dell EMC & IBM all offer a vast range of solutions to include:

• Software as a Service
• Platform as a Service
• Storage as a Service
• Desktop as a Service
• Disaster Recovery as a Service

They offer a compelling infrastructure solution that is entirely configured to meet your specific needs now and can scale to meet your future needs.

Software rules

One of the challenges of the “as-a-service” models is understanding the pro’s and con’s of each solution and how they all fit together. The software holds the key to this solution as enterprise organisations are now building converged platforms, software defined networks/infrastructures with in-depth API capability.

It’s a significant shift from saying “I need 3x VM servers, 5Tb of storage and 2x NICs configured to run a SQL service” toward just saying “I need a SQL Service to run on demand”.  The back end infrastructure is managed and orchestrated and while it’s largely out of sight, you can still access all systems and components in real-time giving you the single pane of glass view.

Network is king

So while the benefits and reduced risks of the XaaS model are clear, the network backbone is what powers the proposition forward. Cloud services all rely on a robust network to give the reliability that services need and that end-users expect, so as companies make the shift to the XaaS paradigm, they must always think about their networks too. If reliable, high-speed connectivity is not available then the user experience declines and the as-a-service proposition weakens.

Support disruptive

It’s entirely understandable that the shift to XaaS is a massive disrupter to the conventional IT departments as often the supplier includes support wrapped into the solution. One temptation is to reduce (or entirely disband) the size and capability of its internal support function.

This can lead to support gaps and the XaaS provider will typically support the Cloud element, some of the user and system interfaces but typically not the end user devices or the environment.

These “out of scope” areas for a XaaS provider is going to be a game changer going forward and will eventually lead to a true XaaS solution in which the customer benefits from a true single point of contact for everything IT related.

XaaS going mainstream

So by outsourcing these service provisions to a qualified expert partner, organizations immediately get lower “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) than with traditional, on-premises solutions. Deployment of services and applications is faster and easier which means that companies can reduce OPEX and get new offerings and services to market faster. The initial CAPEX is lower, IT support expenditure is reduced through the XaaS model and scalability is built-in to the proposition. Design obsolescence is also a thing of the past under a XaaS model. So it becomes another major disruptor for suppliers.

Overall people are switching on to the XaaS model because it takes the TCO and converts it from being a concern into something which is controllable, and which has agreed service levels. Traditionally, IT initiatives were known for suffering from project overruns, where companies didn’t know what they would get at the end of a process which took longer than intended and which of course – cost more.

For suppliers of XaaS solutions, attention needs to be spent on elements outside of the core offer such as the out of scope support and the customers own infrastructure. While this can present its own challenges it does ensure that the XaaS solution is being perceived as an all-encompassing one moving it towards a single supplier.

Byron Bucknall

Byron Bucknall \ Business Development Consultant

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