Why Businesses Move to Everything-As-A-Service Model

Cloud Computing made its entry in the early 2000s creating a paradigm shift in the way IT services are delivered and consumed. The “as-a-service” system was initially focused on delivering software technology under the label “Software-as-a-Service” but soon expanded to other disciplines like Platform-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Datacenter-as-a-Service and more.

The subscription-based model is evolving further to meet the needs of enterprises pursuing their digital transformation journey driven by trends like the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine intelligence. To stay abreast of the digital trends shaping Industry 4.0, enterprises are looking to optimize their processes and achieve greater flexibility and performance efficiency. The “Anything-as-a-Service” alternately known as “Everything-as-a-Service” or “XaaS” has disrupted the market in this context offering an all-in-one package aimed at enhancing every element of enterprise IT: the software, networking, platforms, security, applications, and more.

Why XaaS?

The Everything-as-a-Service is transforming the business model of enterprises across industry verticals driven by their need to do more with less. Analysts predict that global XaaS market will grow at a CAGR of more than 38% by 2020. One of the primary drivers of XaaS is the industry's shift towards operational expenditure (OPEX) model to manage IT infrastructure and reduce costs.  The pay-per-use model allows enterprises to save on the huge expenses required to build in-house facilities and manage them using internal resources. Also, the fact that XaaS delivers a vast array of technology and services over a single vendor network relieves enterprises from entering into multiple contracts with multiple vendors. The increased flexibility and freedom of choice also make XaaS appealing to businesses, both small and big.

The shift of enterprise IT toward the latest trends such as data center virtualization and network virtualization has brought additional demand for XaaS that offers high levels of flexibility and smooth deployment options at affordable price. Enterprises are increasingly turning to server virtualization, storage virtualization, and network virtualization as part of their strategy to consolidate networks and realize cost savings. The XaaS approach relieves the internal team from managing the risks associated with security, backup, and technology updates while also enhancing their disaster recovery (DR) capabilities. The service provider takes the responsibility of maintaining and updating the infrastructure under an exclusive monthly package. Implementation of these technologies has brought significant reduction in upfront investments for IT.

Moving beyond Storage-as-a-Service

The Storage-as-a-service (StaaS) is one of the fastest growing XaaS segments, expected to grow at 40% by 2020, according to reports. This comes as no surprise considering the overwhelming growth of data across industry segments over the past couple of years. Unstructured data lying in legacy siloed infrastructure bring additional storage concerns. This inflexible architecture prevents key applications from performing their tasks effectively. These data silos need to be transformed into structured storage objects that other platforms and applications can use for generating meaningful business insights. The XaaS market is evolving to deliver a Content-as-a-Service solution to help enterprises organize these data repositories and improve application agility.  It also allows enterprises to build a scalable storage infrastructure that can intelligently allocate resources across multiple domains.

The system provides high-capacity cloud storage at the central hub and cached storage at the premise, thereby reducing the burden on the local storage arrays. Through dynamic resource allocation capability, the storage arrays divide the workload among the different layers, thus optimizing storage and performance while reducing latency even during peak loads. The only on-premise investment would be that of a small standard box built for cached storage. Thus the as-a-Service model brings storage footprint at the bare minimum and ensures 100% availability at an affordable price.

IoT-as-a-Service in Analytics Era

Data analytics is emerging as an opportunity to gain actionable insights and achieve market differentiation through the effective use of data. Data is growing at an unprecedented rate; a lot of that growth is attributable to IoT. The data generated across the large network of sensors and heterogeneous interconnected devices brings a new set of management challenges to enterprise storage.

The IoT-as-a-Service is gaining relevance in this context as it addresses the data management challenges associated with advanced networks, which in turn helps improve operational efficiency and customer experience. For example, the Rail-as-a-Service- an extension of IoT-as-a-Service is transforming the transport landscape in Europe and the U.K. This new model combines the capabilities of IoT and big data to streamline their operations across the entire network. The self-diagnosis capability acquired by the rail system helps avoid running delays and accidents, effectively bringing huge CAPEX and OPEX savings to the railways while also enhancing customer satisfaction.

Data Ingestion Challenges and Data Lake-as-a-Service

Streamlining disparate file sources to Hadoop has been one of the concerns associated with traditional data ingestion technologies. Organizations today need a flexible and scalable approach wherein they can onboard a huge volume of data from thousands of disparate databases on to Hadoop. With Data Lake-as-a-Service, organizations benefit from an automated, template-based data ingestion approach that delivers the flexibility and scalability required in today’s evolving data landscape. The service helps eliminate manual errors associated with hard-coded data ingestion procedures. The automation also brings sophisticated analytics capabilities as and when new data is ingested.

XaaS and the General Data Protection Regulation

To stay competitive in today’s growing cloud-first, data-driven marketplace, companies must also protect the legacy data and use it to augment new data sources to identify innovative business opportunities. Businesses need more backups today than before thanks to the evolving information security threat landscape controlled by the unscrupulous elements of the information age. Further, in many regions, companies are bound by statutes requiring the archival of customer data for several years for legal compliance. Traditional data protection solutions do not deliver the flexibility and scalability required for achieving these goals. They also invite huge costs for backup and retention and often lag in terms of disaster recovery (DR) capabilities.

Data Protection-as-a-Service (DPaaS) is an innovative service that empowers organizations to transform legacy data to create a secure, application-aware data repository that can address data management challenges present in the complex networked storage environment. Featuring a centralized console, the data protection and retention service allows organizations to safeguard their data for future use but without burdening their active infrastructure. The enhanced feature sets also help in optimizing storage thus reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO). The XaaS model also addresses data compliance requirements, so enterprises need not adopt a separate strategy to address the complexities arising from new regulations like the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This is important in the evolving compliance landscape because any violation to data privacy can lead to regulatory actions, bringing financial loss to the tune of several millions of dollars.

The growth of technologies like IoT and analytics has built a competitive landscape where only those who take the big leap can win the race. It is important for businesses to turn to modern approaches that deliver automated and self-service capabilities to enable key processes and applications perform their tasks without human intervention. By integrating key functionalities such as software, storage, analytics, and security to the central IT, XaaS helps organizations become agile and respond to the challenges emerging from billions of users and smart devices. The key takeaway with XaaS, however, is that it can reduce IT upfront investments to near zero.

This article was contributed by Praveen Sawkar, Head – APAC GSI, Hitachi Vantara. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends.