As-a-Service to Simplify your Workflow
A guide to IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and HaaS models.
As-a-Service is more than just a buzz term, it’s a way to manage your services more effectively. You’ve likely heard of “Software as a Service”. The term SaaS has become colloquial in the business world, while other as-a-service models continue to evolve and/or remain open for interpretation. As technology and hardware evolves, so does the supporting infrastructure and programs to scale them.
As-a-service usually refers to cloud services aimed at supporting an application or infrastructure deployment. With these services, premium is paid for licensed access to a managed and maintained technology and in some cases the supporting physical infrastructure. As-a-service solutions can eliminate uncertainty, allow greater focus on competitive competencies, and be paid for in affordable installments.
As technology continues to form more purpose-built integrations within the physical world, hardware infrastructure faces greater demands and cost constraints. Variables like obsolescence, maintenance, provisioning, installation, power, and cabling contribute to companies choosing to manage mobility within their organization on a service basis.
Below are four common and evolving as-a-service models for enterprise:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Hardware as a Service (HaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service (SaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service gives users cloud-based alternatives to traditionally on-premise infrastructure. In the words of Microsoft, ‘instant computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the internet.’ Back in the day it was all about on-premise and understanding the expense and complexity of on-premise when making a technology decision. A final solution would first require expensive, hard to scale server networks built and connected in specific ways by specialized IT personnel.
Thanks to Microsoft and Amazon the complexity and cost of on-premise requirements has been eliminated through IaaS models. Infrastructure as a Service allows businesses (ie technology providers) to purchase resources on-demand for accessing and monitoring computers, networking, and other services without having to purchase, manage, and maintain the hardware outright.
IaaS server infrastructure is typically accessed through a dashboard or API. Unlike PaaS or SaaS services, IaaS clients are responsible for managing applications, runtime, OSes, middleware, and data while the IaaS provider manages the servers, hard drives, networking, virtualization, and storage.
Popular Infrastructure as a Service models:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Cisco Metacloud
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Compute Engine (GCE)
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS can be thought of as a platform for software creation via the web. Platform as a Service frameworks allow developers to build customized applications using complete, managed development and deployment environments hosted in the cloud. Not too long ago, a developer once had to build their own hosting infrastructure on a project by project basis prior to working on the project itself.
Where IaaS is limited to core infrastructure - servers, storage, and networking - PaaS also includes middleware, development tools, business intelligence, and database management systems aimed at supporting the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.
In recent years, due to evolving IT infrastructure requirements and the proliferation of IoT, Platform as a Service (PaaS) has adopted a broader definition. Tarun Raisoni, CEO of Rahi, says, ‘Consuming IT Infrastructure in a Subscription Services Model is the new normal.’ For those that have experienced how disjointed an enterprise deployment can be, Raisoni’s quote sounds like a dream come true. Yet another example is PowerBx’s PaaS offering for enterprise conference room management. Subscribers receive networking, provisioning, deployment services, smart hardware, and software from best-in-class service providers all in an affordable subscription-based model on a single invoice from a single service provider.
PaaS models are quickly being designed to deliver flexible, agile scalability while removing large upfront investment or time consuming and unpredictable vendor networks to streamline managed services and required hardware and infrastructure for organizations.
In the post COVID office environment, coupled with expanding demand in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa, enabling enterprise and campus infrastructure through PaaS provides businesses with the needed agility to transition and scale quickly.
More frequently I expect we will start to see the term XaaS, referring to Everything as a Service. This term references tailored, data-driven solutions that are fully controllable by the end customer. It is arguable that this is a more appropriate term for PowerBx’s fully integrated room and desk management service. It certainly makes sense for workplace analytics services like Portal Entryways touchless access control, which brings empathy to physical space using technology and a purpose-built IoT platform. For the near future, the market considers these all PaaS models.
Popular Platform as a Service models:
- AWS Elastic Beanstalk
- Windows Azure
- Google App Engine
Examples of XaaS models still referred to as PaaS models:
- Rahi Elevate Subscription Services (ESS)
- PowerBx, PaaS Solution
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service solutions, also referred to as cloud application services, are designed to make it easy for end users to connect to cloud-based apps over the internet. For that reason SaaS is the most familiar as-a-service term to the majority of us ‘users’. SaaS applications are generally the technology iterations we interact with on a daily basis - email, calendaring, office tools, etc.
SaaS applications are ‘leased’ for yourself or your organization with the expectation that the service provider manages the hardware, software, and the availability and security of your data through a service agreement. Other than initial setup and configuration organizations can be quickly up and running with minimal upfront cost.
An added bonus is that SaaS services eliminate the need for IT staff to download and install applications on individual computers. Global changes can typically be made from a web dashboard accessible from anywhere on any device. Because the SaaS vendor manages all potential technical issues, middleware, servers, and storage free technical staff to focus on higher priority initiatives within the organization.
One consideration is that not all SaaS applications are functional with the software alone. Many contemporary office technologies for lobbies, desks, and rooms require hardware for their intended purpose to be realized. These application providers typically become platforms for hardware integrations to complete a deployment. However, IT professionals and Facility Managers are left to software through a host of vendor options and competitive bidding with the hope that it all comes together in the end after an inordinate number of installation ‘professionals’ get invited onsite to figure out a new mix of piece milled software and hardware. For this reason PaaS models as described above are becoming a preferred alternative to office technology deployments.
Popular Software as a Service models:
- Google Workspace (formerly GSuite)
- Teem by iOFFICE
- Zoom Video Conferencing
- Portal Touchless Entry
Hardware as a Service (HaaS)
Since the launch of the iPad a host of purpose built devices has revolutionized what is know referred to as enterprise mobility. In the beginning, HaaS was an answer to device obsolescence, incompatibility, and a way to simplify procurement and billing. IT bandwidth is freed significantly from troubleshooting and the expensive and time consuming process to upgrade infrastructure hardware is minimized while also being managed.
The Hardware as a Service (HaaS) model is comparable to licensing or leasing in that the equipment is borrowed, rather than purchased. This means that business is able to amortize and expense the cost of hardware over a series of payments as opposed to one large, lump-sum payment that depreciates over time on the balance sheet. For Fortune 500 and multi-site locations counting infrastructure expenses as operating expenditures (OPEx) versus capital expenditures (CAPEx) can have significant financial impact.
HaaS is typically accompanied by an agreed on service level agreement (SLA) that details equipment descriptions, and defines expectations around service levels, monitoring, maintenance, and provisioning. Programs are intended to be agile for quick transitions and scalability that result in a tailored technology suit.
The duration that hardware infrastructure is expected to both last and fulfill its desired purpose is a significant factor in determining if a HaaS model is fiscally responsible for both the end user and integrator. Typically HaaS models require a 1-3 year minimum commitment for services rendered where end users rent new or refurbished devices, bundled with cloud and managed services all bundled into a consolidated monthly invoice that includes installation, monitoring, and maintenance.
Popular Hardware as a Service models:
- Lenovo Device as a Service
- Ingram Micro Hardware as a Service