As-a-Service to Simplify your Workflow
As-a-Service is more than just a buzz term, it’s a way to manage your services easier and 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 often refers to cloud services aimed at supporting an application or infrastructure deployment. With these services, a 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 invoiced 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, or in the words of Microsoft, ‘instant computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the internet.’ On-premise solutions and understanding the expense and complexity of on-premise used to be the focus of a technology decision. These solutions would require expensive, hard to scale server networks built and connected in specific ways by specialized IT personnel.
Thanks to companies like, Microsoft and Amazon, the complexity and cost of on-premise requirements have 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 would have 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 (ie: servers, storage, and networking), PaaS also includes middleware, development tools, business intelligence, and database management systems. PaaS is aimed at supporting the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.
Due to evolving IT infrastructure requirements and the proliferation of IoT, Platform as a Service (PaaS) has adopted a broader definition in recent years. 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, PaaS may sound like a dream come true. PowerBx PaaS offering for enterprise conference room management enables subscribers to receive networking, provisioning, deployment services, smart hardware, and software all in one place. PowerBx PaaS features best-in-class software service providers in an affordable subscription-based model and billed on a single invoice from a single service provider.
PaaS models are quickly being designed to deliver flexible and agile scalability while removing large upfront investment. PaaS eliminates time consuming and unpredictable vendor networks in favor of streamlined managed services with the required hardware and infrastructure organizations need.
In a post COVID environment, coupled with expanding demand in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa, PaaS delivers the needed agility for enterprise and campus infrastructure to transition and scale quickly.
Another emerging term within in the PaaS world is XaaS or Everything as a Service. This term references tailored, data-drive solutions that are fully controllable by the end customer. Services like PowerBx’s fully integrated room and desk management service and workplace analytics like Portal Entryways touchless access control (which brings empathy to physical space using technology and a purpose-built IoT platform) could arguably be referred to as XaaS.
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 Platform as a Service
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.SaaS applications are generally the technology iterations we interact with on a daily basis - email, calendaring, office tools, etc. For that reason, SaaS is the most familiar as-a-service term to the majority of users.
SaaS applications are ‘leased’ to you 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 quickly get up and running with minimal upfront cost.
As an added bonus, 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, technical staff are free to focus on higher priority initiatives within the organization.
Something to consider when implementing SaaS is that not all 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, this leaves IT professionals and Facility Managers with the task of sorting 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 piece a deployment together, the end result is often a mix of piece-milled software and hardware. For this reason, PaaS models are becoming the preferred alternative for 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 have revolutionized what we know refer to as enterprise mobility. HaaS began as an answer to device obsolescence and incompatibility. It allowed for the simplification of procurement and billing. With HaaS, IT bandwidth is freed significantly from troubleshooting. 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 businesses are 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 scalable to create 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