GDS International - CIO - Summit - Africa - 3
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Whitepaper: Everything as a Service (XaaS)

Whitepaper: Everything as a Service (XaaS)

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GDS International - CIO - Summit - Africa - 3 Document Transcript

  • 1. Whitepaper: Everything as a ServiceSometimes the biggest challenge facing business people when choosing a technology ortechnology platform for their business, is sifting through the hype. The aggressive marketing ofICT paraphernalia can be quite daunting and has created a career-threateningscenario for many an IT manager or CIO.Despite what many technology sales people tell you, most “...no longer does asuppliers of technology hardware and software are only hard-pressed CIO orinterested in customers for the purposes of reaching their self- IT manager have toimposed, and sometimes crazy, quarterly targets. Hence the worry about theappeal of cloud computing: no longer does a hard-pressed minutiae of serversCIO or IT manager have to worry about the minutiae of running out ofservers running out of capacity, networks falling over, viruses capacity, networksspreading like wildfire on the corporate LAN or any of the falling over, virusesmyriad ICT problems that crop up on almost a daily basis. spreading like wildfire...”With Everything as a Service (XaaS), all those issues become,as Douglas Adams put it so quaintly in his seminal novel TheHitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, „somebody elses problem‟. As long asyou have the appropriate service level agreement in place and know you can relyon your XaaS provider, the CIO can focus on his or her real work: coming up with technology-enabled strategies to grow capacities and improve efficiencies in the business.Increased agilityThe holy grail of successful business is agility: the ability to respond quickly to changes in thebusiness environment and new products and services almost before your clients know they willrequire them. While a significant portion of that agility relies on management structures, anequally large segment comes down to the technology that underpins the business – if that is notalways available and instantly responsive to queries, the opportunity can often be lost.However, keeping costs within reason is equally important and sometimes very difficult to achievewhen it comes to technology expenditure. For this reason, the systems that enable the businessto continue to function successfully must be flexible and allow the organisation to reinvent itself asand when its markets demand. Until now, that has been the challenge that has kept CIOs awakeat night.
  • 2. What has changed is the utilisation of technology: by which we mean that technology has become a utility, much like electricity, “...technology has telephony and water services have been utilities for as long as become a utility, anyone alive today can remember. So it is with the XaaS concept: much like electricity, it offers business the agility and the flexibility to manoeuvre and telephony and water rapidly reconfigure themselves in response to changes in their services have been own particular market environment. In addition, and if utilities for as long implemented correctly, it also provides significant cost savings as anyone alive over the do-it-yourself model of ICT that has been prevalent for today can so long. It achieves that by effectively amortising the cost of remember.” technology across the entire organisation. Furthermore, the XaaS model can make additional applications, capacity or systems available virtually on demand.Value propositionThe result is a one-size-fits all technology solution – in a manner of speaking. Businesses choosethe service levels and capacities they require for different aspects of the operation and dont needto break the bank doing it. It also frees up some of the most agile brains in the organisation toconcentrate on finding new ways for technology to benefit the businessinstead of rushing around putting out fires most of the time.With XaaS, the compelling value proposition lies in the fact that “...the compellingbusinesses can opt for the levels of service and capacity that value proposition liesthey can afford or that they feel is justified by the risk. And if in the fact thatthat changes, it is a simple matter to adjust those levels to meet businesses can optnew demands. In this way it is possible to meet the particular for the levels ofneeds of a wide range of business – from small-to-medium service and capacityenterprise to the multinational corporation. that they can afford or that they feel isThe crucial thing to understand about any cloud-based offering on justified by the risk.”the African continent is that it is at the mercy of the physicalconnection to the internet. And that, if you read the fine print in manyISP contracts, guarantees nothing more than best effort; if its down, toughluck. While that may be acceptable for some businesses, it would typically not be the case whereservice levels approaching 24x7 100% up time are required.Currently, there are five constituent components to a XaaS offering: Infrastructure as a Service,Platform as a Service, Software as a Service, Desktop as a Service and Security as a Service.Infrastructure as a ServiceIn very basic terms Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the paradigm under which businessesoutsource computing equipment required to support their operations. This typically includeshardware such as servers, storage subsystems and networking devices, and is similar to whatused to be known as outsourcing.As with that model, IaaS functionality is made available via the internet in an on-demand manner.Individual services are usually subject to one of two pricing models: a fixed monthly subscriptionor pay as you go. Either way, usage and pricing is scalable and can instantly be adjusted to meetchanging business needs.
  • 3. Technologically, IaaS enables access for just about any applicationacross a wide variety of infrastructure elements. It also “IaaS enables accessencompasses all the underlying infrastructure which facilitates the for just about anyhosting: systems cabinets, floor space and data centre facilities application across asuch as backup power, air conditioning, disaster recovery systems, wide variety ofetc. The primary benefit of IaaS is flexibility in that it enables the infrastructurespecific needs of each customer to be met, regardless of size. elements.”Customers are able to select a configuration that best satisfies theirsecurity needs within the constraints of their budget. Significantly, dueto the economies of scale inherent in the model, customers can usuallyafford far greater functionality via IaaS than they would be able to in their own data centre.This is primarily due to the elimination of infrastructure investment on the part of the client and arationalisation in terms of the ICT staff required to keep systems running. This frees key staff upto concentrate of finding new ways to use technology in service of the business to improve thebottom line. Furthermore, the bane of every CIOs life is entirely eliminated: the perpetual needfor system upgrades becomes somebody elses problem and is typically included in packagepricing.Platform as a ServiceHowever, business solutions comprise far more than just hardware. Companies also require theunderlying enterprise software platform – call it the operating system of the business – on whichto operate. Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides the basis on top of which enterprise softwarecan run.PaaS offerings would typically provide the software platform along with related professionalservices to cater for any or all of application design, development, testing, deployment andhosting of applications. Services such as team collaboration, web service integration andmarshalling, database integration, security, scalability, storage, persistence and statemanagement may also be provided. Typically, a PaaS offering will allow for the customisation of existing Software as a Service (see below) applications, and can be broadly considered equivalent to the macro “PaaS supports use of language customisation facilities provided with applications by many packaged software applications such as Lotus Notes concurrent users, by or typical word processing and spreadsheet software. providing concurrency It is possible also to provide different combinations of management, scalability, services to support the application development life- fail-over and security.” cycle. Comprehensive PaaS should provide all the required service options in an integrated development environment and within the actual target delivery platform. This should include source code control, version control, dynamic (interactive)multiple user testing, roll out and roll back with the ability to audit and track who made whatchanges when to accomplish what purpose.PaaS can also be configured to provide some level of support to ease the creation of userinterfaces. This can either be based on standards such as HTML and JavaScript or other RichInternet Application technologies like Adobe Flex, Flash and AIR. Rich, interactive, multi-userenvironments and scenarios can be defined, tried out by real people (non-programmers), withtools that make it easy to log/single out features that annoy or frustrate either novices or experts.Creation tools allow interfaces to be defined for different user profiles by function or expertise.PaaS offers improved user experience by incorporating channels for real people feedback
  • 4. throughout creation, design, development, testing, roll-out, production...the entire life-cycle through to end-of-life" "reincarnation" or "next generation evolution" of the application. PaaS supports use of applications by many concurrent users, by providing concurrency management, scalability, fail-over and security. The architecture enables defining the "trust relationship" between users in security, access, distribution of source code, navigation history, user (people and device) profiles, interaction history, and application usage. Software as a Service Where IaaS is primarily concerned with hardware and PaaS offers the underlying software platform, Software as a Service (SaaS) provides a range of business application software as a service. These include ERP and CRM environments and can be expanded to include other classes of software as the need arises. Essentially, SaaS delivers all the end-user applications needed to run the business“SaaS delivers all the without requiring a huge investment in hardware, software licensesend-user applications or support skills. It accomplishes this by means of a hosted needed to run the framework that is made accessible on a wide variety of devices business without across telecommunications infrastructure. requiring a huge investment in The benefits of SaaS include simplified administration, automatic hardware, software software updates and patch management, uniform compatibility licenses or support whereby all users use the same version of the software, easier skills.” collaboration and global accessibility. It moves completely away from the traditional model of software distribution, in which software is purchased for and installed on individual computers. Instead, it takes advantage of so-called cloud-computing and offers everything – applications and data – in the cloud. Desktop as a Service In order to fully appreciate a Desktop as a Service offering it helps to consider the traditional paradigm for desktop computing. Under that model, a typical business will acquire desktop computers and then have to license each individual software package it intends to run on each of those computers. Finally, the company would also need to pay someone – be they internal or external – to provide support to the users of those computers. In this context, a DaaS offering as a virtual operating system including basic applications such as a choice between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice. The purpose is to provide a full basic desktop environment, including the ability to generate or edit a word processing document or spreadsheet, available to all users at the flick of a switch. DaaS is accomplished through virtualisation technology whereby the entire desktop PC – all the applications and data – exists virtually on the network. Users continue to sit at a desk with a keyboard “DaaS is and monitor, but their data and applications reside on the accomplished is network and in a secure data centre. The beauty of this through virtualisation approach is that any user can sit down at any workstation and technology whereby immediately access their virtual desktop. By extension, they can the entire desktop PC log on with any device – laptop, tablet or smartphone – and – all the applications access exactly the same documents and information. and data – exists Furthermore, since documents reside in the cloud rather than on virtually on the individual devices, security is much tighter and easier to manage. network.” In addition, providing access and applications for new employees becomes a simple matter of creating a new user. The system automatically generates a profile using predefined desktop templates, individualised for each user by means of different roles within the organisation. Based on thin
  • 5. client technology, DaaS offerings are becoming increasingly popular because they areconsiderably cheaper to buy and support. They also use less power and enjoy a far longer lifecycle than standard PC hardware. Savings are also realised from a reduction in administrativecosts – as has been borne out by many studies on the subject by the likes of Gartner Researchand IDC, among others.Security as a ServicePossibly the most contentious – and difficult – component of “SecaaS is ancorporate information systems is security: ensuring that the outsourcing model fororganisations sensitive data is protected from unauthorised securityaccess. Security as a Service (SecaaS) is an outsourcing model management,for security management, including the installation and including themaintenance of security tools such as firewall software and installation andantivirus packages. Beyond that, SecaaS also refers to security maintenance ofmanagement provided in-house by an external organisation. security tools such as firewall software andAmong the benefits of this model are constant virus definition antivirus packages.”updates that are not reliant on user compliance, greater securityexpertise than is typically available within an organisation andfaster user provisioning. The outsourcing of tedious and time-consuming administrative tasks allows customer organisations to focus moreon its core competencies. SecaaS typically also provides customers with a Web interface thatallows a certain level of in-house administration as well as a snapshot view of the securityenvironment on a moment-by-moment basis.Know your XaaS partnerAs with any supplier-customer relationship, it is critical to know and be able to trust your partnerand the staff allocated to your business.