- An introduction to ‘as a Service’
- So, what is XaaS (Everything as a Service)?
- What are the benefits of XaaS?
- Why now?
Instead of having various functions operating in silos, XaaS enables organizations to set up horizontal services that can be made available for different departments to leverage in the way that they need.
An introduction to ‘as a Service’
Before getting into the ins-and-outs of XaaS, or Everything as a Service — also called Experience as a Service, or Anything as a Service — it is important to understand the evolution of technical architecture to better understand the role XaaS plays in the digital space.
The popularity and proliferation of "as a Service" models has grown exponentially over the past few years but isn't necessarily a new concept. Dating back to early computing days with "time-sharing” systems, businesses have been looking for ways to reduce hosting fees and eliminate management of on-premise servers. The rise and popularity of cloud computing, along with the expansion of internet-connected devices, has accelerated the "as a Service" world we live in today.
As businesses across the board are choosing to access hardware (servers, storage, etc.) over the internet, the introduction of "as a Service" offerings has grown significantly. Each kind of offering plays a role in digital transformation, and XaaS specifically is becoming the go-to model for accessing and delivering IT services.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Provisions processing, storage, and other fundamental computing resources to deploy and run operating systems and applications.
- Example: Amazon Web Services and Rackspace are both well-known IaaS systems.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Deploys homegrown/created or acquired applications onto a cloud infrastructure.
- Examples: Sitecore Azure is built around Microsoft Azure cloud services (PaaS). Salesforce's Customer 360 Platform is also PaaS.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Sometimes referred to as "on-demand software," SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis, centrally hosted, and delivered over the internet.
- Examples: Sitecore Content Hub is a SaaS offering within the Sitecore portfolio. Other familiar SaaS platforms include Slack and SurveyMonkey. B2C SaaS companies include Netflix and Spotify.
- Everything as a Service (XaaS): A smorgasbord of utility-based offerings that represents the extensive variety of services and applications emerging for users to access on-demand. XaaS solutions combine hardware, software, and services — traditionally sold separately — into a single customer offering.
- Examples: A more encompassing model, Healthcare as a Service, Transportation as a Service (think Uber or Lyft) and Digital experience as a Service would all fall under the XaaS category.
Takeaway: With all of the options in the rapidly growing “as a Service” world we live in, businesses are continuing to be empowered with more flexibility in how to advance digital IT infrastructure and meet next-generation digital transformation technology requirements.
So, what is XaaS (Everything as a Service)?
Let’s dive deeper into the nuances of XaaS and what it means for businesses in today's ever-changing digital space.
As noted above, XaaS is a catch-all term for a wide variety of services. XaaS encompasses various IT components and business processes that are available as cloud-based services and spans a number of applications that deliver access on-demand. For many organizations, XaaS isn't just a way to modernize IT, but is an operating model to drive digital business and transformation.
And in the sense of “Everything as a Service,” it is important to note that XaaS is not limited to technology. XaaS has emerged to support customer engagement with offline activities like food delivery, property searches, and doctors on-demand.
XaaS is a connected business model.
XaaS supports a more cohesive and less-siloed approach to business. Instead of having various functions operating in silos, XaaS enables organizations to set up horizontal services that can be made available for different departments to leverage in the way that they need. With strong APIs, organizations can create a module — let's say a customer interaction module — that allows sales teams to track and report on a prospect’s interactions, and that same module can be used by the customer service team and call center to manage, issue triage, and resolve.
What are the benefits of XaaS?
The main overarching benefit of XaaS is its impact on the democratization of innovation. XaaS is making it more affordable and easier for a wide range of users and businesses of all sizes to access leading-edge technologies and services.
But let's look at some of the more specific benefits of XaaS that directly contribute to this democratization.
Legacy systems simply can't change fast enough to keep up with digital transformation needs. Businesses need flexibility and agility from their technical architecture, and that is exactly what XaaS provides. XaaS delivers rapid access to valuable new capabilities and the ability to scale — just two of the key benefits that businesses will gain from adopting XaaS. This helps organizations innovate faster and offer new products and services to attract new customers, while keeping existing customers satisfied.
XaaS also provides benefits in terms of the access to tech for businesses of all sizes. Going into 2020, the way that we were all working and collaborating was always evolving to ensure we could be as efficient as possible. But then everything changed seemingly overnight, leaving many organizations struggling to quickly pivot and accommodate a newly dispersed workforce. XaaS provides access to new technologies and scalability to more easily adapt to sudden changes in an operating model or workforce shifts.
Flexibility and scalability
XaaS allows customers to scale up or down to meet changing needs. Whether scaling in consumption or feature usage, XaaS empowers businesses with access to the latest technology while having the flexibility to take advantage of only the features and capacity that are needed.
One of the great things about XaaS is that it usually requires a lesser investment than previous technical architecture on the front end and allows businesses to grow or expand levels of usage and service as needed and as time goes on. This allows organizations to continue to reinvest in business strategy as opposed to infrastructure or maintenance costs.
The best choice of deployment model depends on the specific needs of each organization, but in general, the benefits of moving toward a more cloud-based model can significantly outweigh any drawbacks.
As we continue to move toward a mobile-first, cloud-focused environment, it makes sense for businesses to follow suit, keeping everything on the cloud where it is accessible and up to date. More and more businesses are valuing access and outcomes over ownership. They’re also looking for ways to future-proof their business — specifically as it relates to customer experience and technology.
As with any digital transformation effort, it’s important to have a strong, cohesive vision for how a business will use XaaS — otherwise you run the risk of landing in an everything is a mess situation. Make sure to think through marketing and technology strategies, customer engagement plans, and business objectives in order to pave the right road.