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The cloud is at your service

'As a service' phenomenon expands

By Christine Burns, Network World
September 17, 2012 01:04 PM ET

Network World - If you follow cloud computing, you're no doubt familiar with software as a service, typically associated with Salesforce.com, or infrastructure as a service, which was pioneered by Amazon.com. But how about CaaS, SECaaS, DaaS, MaaS and BaaS?

According to industry consortium The Open Group, these new "as-a-service" acronyms fall into the category of XaaS (pronounced "zass"), a generalization for all cloud-related services per the NIST definition.

XaaS describes any service that can call up reusable, fine-grained software components across a virtualized cloud network. And if you add up the market forecasts for applications, application infrastructure and systems infrastructure to be delivered as public cloud services by 2015 worldwide, the XaaS market will reach more than $40 billion.

No matter the frequency with which service providers continue to slap the "-aaS" tagline on their product descriptions, industry watchers, practitioners and users contend that the practice of implementing XaaS in the future will have more to do with customers aligning their existing business practices with the basic tenants of cloud than it does with how providers may be bundling — or naming — their services.

The cloud computing market continues to find more and more vendors entering to find their own niche.

XaaS covers a pretty wide swath of service categories with a long list of products in each. To narrow the field a bit, we asked industry analysts and practitioners to list the companies they are watching in the three XaaS categories that are currently bubbling to the top in terms of enterprise interest: unified communications as a service (UCaaS), monitoring/management as a Service (MaaS) and network as a service (NaaS). Find out who Network World finally selected and why.

To find out more about the emergence of XaaS into other areas, download this pdf (free registration required) and become a Network World Insider. The pdf also looks at the use of unified communications as a service by a trucking company.

Read more about cloud computing in Network World's Cloud Computing section.

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