Once Novel, Now Ubiquitous: The Evolution of Everything as a Service
In a few years, the “as a service” movement is set to encapsulate everything — which could be a very good thing for businesses seeking to improve security, sustainability and innovation.
The genesis of the movement dates back to the late 1990s, when businesses of all sizes were experiencing the nascent stages of digital age as well as growing pains from the expanding technological functionality afforded by the internet. As new technology, tools and platforms rapidly infiltrated offices around the globe, business leaders struggled to manage these innovations. They began to selectively outsource core IT functions to free up internal resources, offloading tasks to experts who could do them more efficiently. The technology service model was born.
Today, we know these service-based innovations by the names of Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service and Device as a Service. In the increasingly on-demand economy, IT teams no longer want to just buy a widget, they want to buy a service — for just about everything.
Reflecting these shifting organizational, technological and fiscal expectations, the concept of Everything as a Service, or XaaS, has arisen, and is already gaining steady momentum in the market.
In fact, Deloitte predicts that in the next 18 to 24 months, the XaaS model will redefine the fundamental goals of core technological modernization. Here are some of the primary features of the service-based model and the benefits it provides to IT managers, business leaders and the everyday employee.
Let Vendors Get Technical, So IT Teams Can Get Innovative
Despite the exponential rate of technological change, the perennial IT challenge — to do more with less — remains steadfast. Daily, CIOs are seeking operational efficiencies wherever they can find them, asking, “How can I preserve company resources by offloading day-to-day work to someone who can do it more efficiently, and so my team can be more strategic?”
XaaS provides an answer: Services offer significant benefits for businesses out of the gate, including simplified IT deployment, a smaller on-premises physical footprint, and fewer wasted assets by only using and paying for what you need, when you need it.
The greater value can be found in freeing up resources to attend to strategic business initiatives. By moving the mundane, rote maintenance tasks to the service provider, in-house IT teams can shift their focus from core IT functions to transformation efforts and allocate more time to business-building.
According to IDC research, 50 percent of IT managers say they spend too much time managing devices and 63 percent say time could be better allocated to projects like security and digital transformation. By placing recurring tasks with a service provider who staffs experts and is bound by contractual obligations to manage these functions, companies can both take cycles out of IT while improving end-user experience.
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Organizations Gain Efficiencies with DaaS Model
XaaS also drives efficiencies in terms of value. For example, negotiating a great rate on a device is helpful only to the extent that you have the right device for the job. A DaaS model ensures that you can match the right devices and accessories to suit each job function and then fine-tune the device mix based on usage analytics. As software solutions continue their migration to the cloud, instant ordering and upgrading will extend this value.
Less on-premises IT as a result of services also means less physical overhead, such as space for equipment, power and cooling, which results in savings from a utilities standpoint. For IT departments with slimmer and slimmer budgets, services can be a significant cost-savings solution.
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XaaS Expands Functionality to Anywhere a Business Operates
In addition to scaling up or down to meet fluctuating needs, XaaS provides easy access to business-critical services as well as new technologies and enables companies to add new services quickly or extend services to new locations.
Several cloud companies have taken internal services and made them available to customers for use in their own business — no need for huge, expensive data centers.
XaaS provides employees with access to programs, drives and files from anywhere via any device, meaning that permanent desks are no longer required. It also allows organizations to respond faster to changing market dynamics with quick access to powerful data and easily deployable resources, creating the customized computing environments that businesses desire.
XaaS Can Maximize Security and Continuity for Businesses
XaaS delivers increasingly important benefits to protect your brand and keep your business up and running: security and efficiency.
As Internet of Things-enabled devices proliferate, embedded sensors across massive device fleets will deliver huge quantities of data — data used to predict and proactively address issues before they happen. Think about a printer that sends an alert when it senses one of its parts is malfunctioning or overheating. With smart devices alerting their service providers to potential technical issues, the provider can either fix the problem remotely or send a technician out before the printer goes down, eliminating downtime.
Security will, and should, remain a hot topic for employers: It is predicted that cybercrime will cost businesses $8 trillion by 2022, placing security at the top of Gartner’s top 10 IoT technologies for 2017 and 2018. Device security is a particular area of concern. XaaS hardens companies’ defenses through comprehensive and continual security assessments by the service provider as well as by delivering products with the latest detection and recovery capabilities. Proactive protection is enabled by monitoring devices and ensuring compliance with security policies, including finding, locking and erasing lost or stolen devices. In this way, the provider is also able to retire devices in a safe manner.
Services Help Businesses Make Smarter Sustainability Choices
Services facilitate a smaller, greener footprint by eliminating operational waste and unnecessary equipment.
As an example, HP’s closed-loop ink cartridge program recovers plastic from ink and toner cartridges to create new ink or toner supplies — all done automatically. Data helps ensure toners are used up before they are changed, which has a huge impact if a company routinely changes toners cartridges that are not empty across hundreds of printers. It also reduces waste by tracking behaviors such as single-sided versus two-sided printing, color volume or even the number of employees per device.
XaaS also slashes energy costs with features that automatically shut off devices when not in use and instantly turn them on when you need them. It can even schedule sleep and wake modes across an entire fleet, reducing fleetwide energy consumption. For IT professionals, there is little need to worry about cooling your server room. Also, think about that “free” printer: Much like the old refrigerator in the garage, it may be using more energy than it is worth. XaaS helps companies keep up to date with the most energy-efficient devices.
As the working world transitions further toward “as a service,” the expectations for on-demand services will continue to expand. Companies that stay ahead of this evolution will be poised to secure competitive advantages in terms of efficiencies, strategic investments, agility and sustainability.