Imagine a business world where there were no IT assets in your organisation: no servers, no data storage, no cooling, no power backup solutions, nothing but individual user devices (your choice, PCs, tablets or smartphones) to access the Internet. Imagine that whenever you wanted to run an application, analyse data or control a business process, you accessed resources over the Internet to do that and only paid for the time and CPU cycles used. That’s the promise of IT as a Service.
ANYTHING AS A SERVICE
With the cloud in place, products are increasingly turning into services, especially for IT. The “as a Service” concept started some time ago with mainframes offering timesharing (an early version of PaaS – Platform as a Service). Then came the application service providers (a precursor of SaaS – Software as a Service). But the cloud was the explosion into highly affordable IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS, SaaS, DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service), and more generally XaaS (anything else that can be supplied as a service).
YOUR DATA CENTRE OR OURS?
Anything-as-a-Service often calls the cloud model to mind, but hybrid solutions are possible too. An enterprise that has IT assets that have not yet been amortised can also use a service provider to provide own systems maintenance, technology planning, business IT analysis, and more.
BENEFITS OF ITAAS
With the cloud model, the benefits of IT as a Service are by now well known:
- Flexibility. Turn the tap on or off, run it slower or faster, according to your IT needs.
- Scalability. Cloud IT resources are virtually unlimited: you’ll never run out of steam
- Reliability. For data and apps, data centres exist for continual availability.
- Affordability. It’s pay-as-you-go, it’s Opex rather than Capex and prices start very low.
- Accessibility. Connect to the net from anywhere to consume IT-as-a-Service.
- Rapidity. Get your IT right now, instead of waiting weeks or longer for delivery.
Yet a switch to 100% IT-as-a-Service working is still rare. Hybrid solutions, a mix of ITaaS and own on-premises IT, are more common.
PRACTICAL IMPACTS ON YOUR ORGANISATION
Besides the benefits, there are also possible impacts to be taken into account:
- Security. If your data leaves your enterprise, an additional security risk exists.
- Data transfer. In a hybrid model, is your network connection fast enough?
- Provider longevity. A provider going bust could destroy your data, your apps and your business.
- Compliance. Geographical and industry sector regulation also has to be guaranteed.
- Skillsets. IT staff must adapt to remote working instead of servers in the next room.
In general, the benefits are big enough and the impacts manageable enough for IT-as-a-Service to be an attractive option to many enterprises.
IT AS A SERVICE – JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG?
IT lends itself well to the “as-a-Service” model. It is virtual by nature and apart from certain considerations like data transfer it can be run practically anywhere. Inspired by ITaaS perhaps, more and more non-IT products are turning into services provided from the cloud. Rent by the minute automobile services for drivers and guaranteed crop yields for farmers are two examples based on underlying products, but presented as services. Getting comfortable with IT-as-a-Service might also be the way to feel more at ease with the future of business in general.