The XaaS’s Have IT!

Author: Steven Zolman

You hear it all the time… Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), but what does it really mean? How is it really defined? What is the difference between IaaS, and PaaS, and SaaS? How does it differ to what we have done before? Well, I think all those questions and more are answered with the following graphic.

If you start with the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) stack, you see that a supplier provides networking, storage, servers and virtualization, while you manage the platform and the application. If you then move up to Platform as a Service (PaaS), you see that in addition to the infrastructure, the supplier also provides the operating system, the middleware and the runtime licenses, while you manage the application and its data. If you then move up to Software as a Service (SaaS), you see that you rely on the supplier to provide the underlying infrastructure, the platform, and the software application (while also hosting your data). With a clearer view of what it is, and how and where you are relying on the supplier in comparison to your responsibilities from managing your own environment in the past, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect.

What kind of infrastructure does Salesforce.com use? What platform does Salesforce.com run on? Answer: Who cares!? That’s the point of SaaS; it’s supposed to take you out of the business of worrying about all that stuff. What you should worry about, however, are things like availability, performance, reliability, security, portability, utilization, etc.

IaaS, and PaaS, and SaaS all require organizations to improve their contracting skills as there are many more things to consider, beyond what you used to consider when buying traditional packaged software applications. In addition, once deals are made, there are new challenges in strategic supplier management, because whether intentional or not, these suppliers become more strategic as their accountability for things like system availability and performance increases.

Our clients are finding that they require new skills in the contracting phase, and a deeper level of expertise in strategic supplier management when dealing with XaaS suppliers.

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