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The cloud services explosion

It's not just about SaaS and IaaS anymore; just about everything can be delivered as a service

By Christine Burns, Network World
August 13, 2012 12:03 AM ET

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If you follow cloud computing, you're no doubt familiar with software-as-a-service, typically associated with, or infrastructure-as-a-service, which was pioneered by 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.

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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.

The most common examples of XaaS are software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). But the "as-a-service" surname is proliferating at a dizzying rate. Here are just some of the services now available in the cloud:

 storage as a service (another SaaS) 
security as a service (SECaaS) 
 database as a service (DaaS) 
 monitoring/management as a service (MaaS) 
 communications, content and computing as a service (CaaS) 
 identity as a service (IDaaS) 
 backup as a service (BaaS) 
 desktop as a service (DaaS)

David Lounsbury, CTO of The Open Group, is not a big fan of the XaaS designation. He notes that his group has been pushing a service-oriented architecture (SOA) model of computing for more than a decade and points to the recently released Service-Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure (SOCCI) framework as a guide to how SOA and the cloud are in natural alignment.

"When does this stop being about a cloud frenzy, and just settle down into being a practical way to do business on a day-to-day basis?" asks Lounsbury.

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.

Bullet The cloud services explosion
Bullet Hendrickson keeps on truckin' with UcaaS
Bullet Microsoft delivers missing Lync for telemed project


"Cloud is more about how you consume technology to fit your business processes and less about technology itself," says Tiffani Bova, vice president with Gartner Research. IT professionals are not sitting around wondering what type of physical server their cloud applications are running on, contends Bova. Rather, they know they can easily access those applications in the cloud and now are deciding how to build up provisions around them that address things like intelligent business processes and security and governance parameters.

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