The Unstoppable March of XaaS: Anything as a Service

November 26, 2020
#WebDevelopment #Technology #Trends

Anything as a service bears a striking resemblance to a certain phrase. If it can be automated it should be automated. If it can be used via the cloud it should be. But whether it actually should we’ll discuss in this article. 

What Is Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the technological practice of using remote cloud resources to perform tasks that usually require on-premises hardware. The on-demand nature of this technology has inspired a multitude of different services. As the hardware behind them only improves (edge servers, for example), the more complex are the tasks that can be performed via the cloud. By getting the computing resources remotely it opens up a wider range of possible operations you can perform. Because of that, cloud computing has offered opportunities for many businesses and individuals when it comes to software development and general daily use. This is what spawned the term XaaS, or anything as a service.

Quick Note About Saas, Paas, and IaaS

Before delving deeper into XaaS, a brief introduction to other cloud computing models is necessary. Since we already covered them in a separate article we’ll do just a quick rundown. If you want a more in-depth comparison of them with advantages and disadvantages make sure to have a look.

Software as a Service (SaaS) model provides you with pretty much any type of software right in your browser. The most widely recognized examples are Google Apps or Microsoft 365. They offer text editors, email clients, and much more. It’s the most widespread model and you are most likely familiar with it already.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is different. It offers a full toolkit for the development of various applications. With these solutions, you can run, create, and manage apps without having to invest in an often expensive proprietary set of tools.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the most advanced model out of these three. With IaaS you get a full virtual infrastructure with the resources you require. This opens a lot of possibilities for software development, system administration, and testing. It basically provides servers, storage, and networking without any hardware.

And now that we have more or less covered the three core cloud computing models it’s time to do the same for the more niche and less talked about services.

Cloud Computing Model Usage

IT as a Service


There are two types of ITaaS. The first one is a cloud model that provides an information technology service. The second type doesn’t require cloud computing at all. Let’s look at both of them.

The cloud ITaaS often serves as a sort of an umbrella term. For example, the virtual networking offered by IaaS is a type of information technology. So technically calling it ITaaS won’t be a mistake. However, this cloud solution is much bigger in scale. Many consider the underlying technology of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS as a requirement for the service to be called ITaaS. But that’s where the second approach to this model comes in.

ITaaS without cloud computing is an organizational shift rather than a technological one. This approach has more in common with DevOps or Agile rather than other cloud services. It organizes the IT operations of the company in order to optimize the structure of the business. Such a big disparity between the two interpretations is often confusing. However, it seems like the second one is becoming the dominant take on IT as a service. It’s also often connected to the practice of IT outsourcing.

Its pros and cons can be found in a separate more detailed article.


Storage as a Service

We have mentioned storage as a part of the infrastructure as a service. STaaS model is a solution that provides you with just this service without other virtual machine capabilities of that model. That allows you to use this service for more general purposes. In that regard, it is closer in scale to SaaS rather than IaaS. In fact, it’s often considered to be a type of software as a service model.

Pros:

  • Access your data in any place in the world with an internet connection.
  • Disaster recovery in the chance of hardware storage failure.
  • Scalable with payment models fit for the actual amount of storage you require.
  • No need to invest in a dedicated storage server.
  • Most providers have a robust security system in place to guarantee the safety of your data.

Cons:

  • The migration of data from one STaaS provider to another is a long and difficult process.
  • Despite most providers keeping data secure, there have been cases of intellectual property theft.
  • If you don’t have an internet connection, your files and data aren’t available to you.
  • General lack of control when it comes to customization.

Backend as a Service

For certain types of software projects, a finely-tuned manually developed backend is absolutely necessary. However, not all applications actually require this degree of complexity. This is where BaaS can help you achieve quick and cheap results that will be equivalent in quality. These solutions offer database management, hosting, cloud storage, user authentication, and other features. That’s why this type of cloud service is especially widespread among frontend and mobile developers. BaaS allows them to focus on the user interface and the client-side logic.

Pros:

  • The speed of development vastly increases since there’s no need to create a custom backend.
  • Related to the previous point, the price of development drops because of the fact mentioned above.
  • A set of tools are immediately available. Among them support, hosting, integrations, and so on.

Cons:

  • BaaS doesn’t allow the level of customizability of custom backend development.
  • You have to trust your BaaS provider with all matters concerning security.
  • Vendor lock-in. You won’t be able to change much if any of the backed logic.
  • Not flexible enough to support a wide range of projects. Your app has to fit the mold, not vice versa.  

Quality Assurance as a Service


This type of service is often considered to be a type of outsourcing. While this is correct for a lot of solutions of this nature, QAaaS is not limited to it. There are solutions available that can facilitate automatic testing pipeline, such as CI/CD. As the DevOps only grows in popularity, many companies want to use one of it’s most beneficial features.

Pros:

  • Saves you time and money.
  • Is able to run tests 24 hours a day.
  • There is no longer a chance of human error.
  • Frequent updates and reusable test scenarios.

Cons:

  • Can end up costing more than testing manually if the scale of the app is large.
  • Certain technical limitations that can’t be addressed.
  • Not suited for subjective tasks such as user experience tests.
  • Not as effective for short-term and small projects.

Function as a Service


FaaS often acts as a template that developers can build upon. It bears a lot of similarities with the platform as a service model since the offered functionality is in most cases similar. However, there is a distinction. FaaS solutions don’t require a running server for it to function. It is also a more scalable and affordable alternative to PaaS. Since you pay for execution time, you save on idle time. The payoff for that often comes in the form of latency. One of the most common applications of this technology is the creation of microservices.

Pros:

  • Automatic scalability for all of the apps developed with FaaS.
  • Lower cost since you don’t pay in advance for the bandwidth you won’t require for lighter apps.
  • No need to build an entire infrastructure for your apps.
  • Simplified coding process. Write it once and upload it.
  • Faster time to market due to the iterative development process.

Cons:

  • Latency issues when compared to other solutions
  • Vendor lock-in for every app developed on a FaaS platform.
  • Security is fully relegated to the FaaS vendor.
  • Test environments are hard to set up.
  • Not suited for high-bandwidth applications since they can end up costing more than dedicated servers.

How XaaS Leads to Cost Savings


It Doesn’t Stop There

In this article, we wanted to stick to our area of expertise. That’s why we focused on cloud services that are connected to software development and information technology. But as you can imagine, the services have already spread outside of our industry. You can easily find solutions providing content, distribution, games, and much more as a service.

In conclusion

That’s the general overview of anything as a service. Due to the all-encompassing nature of the word “anything” that will have to do for now. However, once other XaaS solutions become more widely adopted, Digital Skynet Corp will definitely tell you about them.

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