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Beware the mavericks of the XaaS revolution

(Image credit: Image Credit: Scanrail1 / Shutterstock)

Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) is reinventing the IT infrastructure to become an environment where computing, software, networks, malware and more are bought, rather than built, into the computing infrastructure. In fact, according to Gartner, 2019 was the year that XaaS went mainstream. Though, physically, the server room of today is a shadow of its former self – with most elements hidden away in the cloud – in terms of capability and agility it has the potential to be more powerful than ever.

Coupled with the trend towards digital transformation, XaaS is changing both the decision maker and the dynamics of technology strategy in the enterprise. In this article, Renat Zubairov, CEO and co-founder of elastic.io, explains how IT management can regain control of the XaaS revolution and use it to harness the full potential of digital transformation strategy.

Welcome to the gig economy

The XaaS revolution in the server room is mirroring the simultaneous rise of the ‘gig economy’ as organisations have opportunity to buy the computing hardware, software and services they need, when and where they need it. Businesses can’t justify permanently scaling up to the capacity required for seasonal or periodic spikes in demand, but the XaaS model can provide access to an almost unlimited bank of resource when it is needed – New Year, Black Friday, seasonal holidays and so on – without it standing idle at other times.

While the investment and risk associated with IT infrastructure ownership can be controlled at organisational level, the subscription model of XaaS lowers barriers to adoption and has given rise to a new trend in buyer behaviour.

IDC forecasts that 2019 will be the year when enterprise IT spending by departmental management overtakes spending by the IT department and, with XaaS revolutionising the look and feel of the server room, it is easy to see how that prophesy might be playing out. In fact, enabled by the growing XaaS offering, line of business spending on IT has been growing at a faster rate than IT department spending for several years, focused on cloud-based on-demand services.

A growing challenge for IT managers, particularly against the backdrop of digital transformation, becomes preventing data silos emerging in each operational business unit as well as how to achieve integration in a more maverick purchasing environment.

Furthermore, IT teams operating horizontally across the business are facing internal resource bottlenecks because of the complexity of integrating a growing number of SaaS subscriptions into the IT infrastructure. The addition of each individual software application requires not just one but a series of bespoke API connections, and the number of connections grows more than proportionally with multiple systems.

This means that maintenance of the infrastructure becomes an enormous challenge, without even considering growth and upgrade.

Embedding the integration solution

Increasingly, it is the complexity of connectivity and interoperability in the digitally-transformed enterprise that creates the biggest challenge for IT management. There is a limit to benefits that can be gained from a system operating in the silo of a single business unit but if marketing can be connected to sales, and to logistics, billing, after-sales care and more, the opportunities are open wide for better and better customer service. Applied in this way, technology can – and should – be a competitive differentiator for the organisation.

Research shows that companies are increasingly selecting technologies for their integration capability as much as their breadth of functionality. Yet how they are integrated often still relies on manual programming of APIs to build the links. As mentioned, when this relies on manual coding, the burden on time and resources stack up, but there is an alternative and cost-effective solution.

The integration platform has entered the XaaS revolution with the integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) providing a layer of universal connectivity that IT managers can plug systems into for easy interoperability. Creating links between multiple systems becomes a much simpler and quicker step towards an integrated enterprise.

For example, Fabric House in Italy deployed iPaaS to link its CRM database with online shop and logistics operations. With fast and easy integration that anyone in the business could perform, it reported a reduction in time spent on integration of 85 per cent compared to manual projects, as well as economic benefits of the ‘pay-as-you-grow’ pricing model.

iPaaS breaks the silos of enterprise IT infrastructures with a plug-in integration solution for the existing architecture, as well as any additions or modifications in the future. The time saved can be a welcome release to the bottleneck of IT management resources in the XaaS environment.

Embrace the revolution

The XaaS revolution is a heavy influence on the dynamics of the enterprise IT infrastructure, particularly one in pursuit of digital transformation. Not only is it changing how elements of technology are purchased, but it is also affecting who is buying and highlights the need for IT management to regain control over a cohesive – and not siloed – business operation.

Integration is an increasingly critical component of any XaaS architecture, and IT managers should be aware that options exist for buying – rather than building – this as an on-demand solution, just as with SaaS, IaaS and so on. The mindset towards server space and software has already shifted to accept the as-a-service model and now organisations have opportunity to embrace integration as part of the XaaS revolution for achieving digital transformation strategy.

Renat Zubairov, CEO and co-founder, elastic.io