Within the past few years, As a Service models have gained traction among businesses of all sizes, across industries. Leaders are seeking solutions that not only support agility, but can also allow for transformation at whatever speed is needed — fast or more paced.
When explaining how As a Service works, it’s helpful to use the analogy of building a house. Let’s say you have found just the right plot of land. You’ll need to find a good architect. With them, you’ll plan out exactly what you want and will need for the future. The project will require a major capital investment and represent a major liability. You’ll commit to maintaining it indefinitely. This is how most businesses approach data center infrastructure.
On the other hand, there’s the concept of cloud consumption. As a consumer, you don’t need to plan long term or pay upfront. You pay for what you use and can freely scale up or down. Going with the house analogy, this would be more like renting month-to-month or at least being able to do major renovations at little to no cost.
As a Service provides a way to consume on-premises infrastructure that’s like the public cloud; a best-of-both-worlds offering. It’s not a lease, capital purchase or cloud contract. It’s a way to use the latest technologies, with expert management, to the extent and capacity required.
As a Service models started taking off at the very end of 2019. The momentum didn’t slow in 2020, perhaps because the pandemic and its ripple effects caused organizations to avoid heavy capital investments (CapEx) in favor of cash preservation and lean approaches (OpEx).
More enduringly, however, organizations have evolving cloud strategies that benefit from the kind of flexibility As a Service offers. Acting as a bridge to the cloud, As a Service enables right-sized consumption of private infrastructure, requires little to no upfront costs, eliminates overpaying for unused resources and delivers excellent pricing transparency. These benefits are material for buyers seeking storage solutions, which are typically expensive in the public cloud and can cause a meaningful dent in the balance sheet in a traditional data center setting.
Long-term planning is also more difficult than ever, as we’ve painfully come to realize over the past year or so. Knowing what a business and its customers will need over a three- or four-year period drives capital decisions and, ultimately, business agility. The less planning required, the more a business can stay responsive and nimble. This is one of the reasons why the public cloud is so appealing.
The reality, though, is that simply picking up workloads and moving them from on premises to the cloud — “lifting and shifting” — isn’t that easy. In some cases, it’s actually an impossible ask or one that would jeopardize the business in a tangible way (e.g., costing a fortune to store data in the public cloud). When corporate mandates order wholesale moves to the cloud, As a Service can be a halfway point, delivering the outcomes the business needs without increasing risk or cost. The business can either stay with As a Service beyond its transformation or use it as a steppingstone to a more permanent solution.
The most mature As a Service offerings today are in the storage space. We’ve seen a huge adoption in the market, with leaders quickly realizing the value of paying for a given number of terabytes, at a given performance level, without having to deal with egress charges, security concerns, capacity planning, upfront costs or maintenance.
Now, leaders are rightly asking service providers and OEMs what they can deliver in other areas (network, compute, data protection, etc.) through As a Service offerings. In time, we’ll no doubt see the manifestation of these pressures, with a great variety of As a Service choices in the market.
And it’s not just C-level executives at large organizations who are drawn to As a Service offerings. Here at Insight, we’re finding interest across our client base. As a Service is useful for large enterprises with public and hybrid cloud strategies, and for smaller companies with IT managers or teams who simply don’t want to buy and maintain technology, worry about support contracts or overpay for cloud resources.
At the end of the day, many business leaders don’t want to change the way they operate, they just want to consume differently — and run applications and the business without worrying about how or where everything is being hosted. They want to pay for what they use and that’s it. And why shouldn’t they?
As a Service is a way to align data center and cloud strategies with organizational strategies solve challenges, achieve objectives and secure benefits of both private infrastructure and the public cloud.