Decoding the True Value of XaaS

By James Fanella

May 22, 2012

The information technology industry is well known for promising outsourced IT services that are faster, easier, cheaper and more secure than customers can provide for themselves. Lately, however, the menu of cloud-based XaaS (anything-as-a-service) offerings has expanded to include a virtual armada of new IT acronyms. In addition to the now-familiar infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models, we now have communications-as-a-service (CaaS), network-as-a-service (NaaS), and monitoring-as-a-service (MaaS). But what is the real value of all these XaaSes?

Unlock the codeRegardless of what type of XaaS you may be considering, the true benefit is being able to partially or fully outsource your IT needs to a highly-skilled service provider who can help manage your vital IT functions such as email, network support, security, backup and disaster recovery. A trusted managed services provider allows you to “run your business on their business” by aggregating these and other standardized services for multiple users, which typically allows them to provide a premium enterprise-type IT environment while minimizing costs.

The concept of managed services has been around nearly as long as the practice of outsourced IT itself, but with the advent of cloud computing, it has gained new momentum. Analyst firm Gartner expects worldwide spending on SaaS – one of the fastest-growing forms of managed services – to swell from $14.5 billion in 2012 to more than $22 billion in 2015.

Benefits of Managed Services

One of the key benefits of adopting a managed services business model is that it allows companies to focus on their core business. Zynga, for example, built a social gaming empire for over 240 million active monthly users by developing innovatively engaging games like FarmVille, Mafia Wars and Words with Friends while initially outsourcing most of its IT and game hosting needs. Zynga’s core competency is games, not running Microsoft Exchange email servers or archiving old emails; nor is it disaster recovery, load balancing, network administration, storage, backup or data security. Thus, any resources spent on these crucial but non-core functions could detract from their focus on their core business.

Because managed service providers are so tightly focused on IT support, their technology expertise is generally much higher than in other companies, where IT support is a secondary function. Consequently, managed services can improve the level of IT support for many users while relieving them of the burden and responsibility of keeping up with the latest technology.

The best outsourced IT services are extremely reliable, with service-level agreements guaranteeing very close to 100 percent system uptime. Remember, though, that while a promise of “high availability” 90 percent uptime may sound impressive (after all, 90 percent is still grade-A, right?), it can mean as much as 36.5 days of data downtime over the course of a year. A datacenter with 99.999 percent uptime service, on the other hand, guarantees you no more than five minutes of annual data downtime.

Most managed service providers also give you the flexibility to quickly scale your IT resources up or down as your business needs change. Best of all, they require no capital spending and cost half as much as managing the same functions in your own dedicated IT environment.

In short, managed services make sense for a growing number of organizations, but not necessarily everyone or everything. We recommend that anyone considering outsourced IT start by assessing which of their applications are mission-critical. In some cases, applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications may be too critical to outsource and should be kept within the organization. Managed services users also should be aware that in many cloud-based systems, sensitive data will be leaving their premises. So they will need to be cognizant of the appropriate physical and logical data security procedures.

Finally, keep in mind that there can be significant differences between managed services providers, and the services they provide. Following is a checklist of things to look for in selecting a managed services provider that’s right for your organization:

10 Tips for Choosing a Managed Service Provider

1. Go see the cloud. Inspect the datacenter where your applications will be hosted. Make sure your data is housed in a state-of-the-art data facility with high-level security and technical support. Remember, too, that efficient power and cooling operations will generate savings that can be passed on to you, the end user.

2. Can I lean on you? Make sure your service-level agreement (SLA) guarantees at least 99.999 percent uptime for your mission-critical data. Minimizing downtime can reduce lost income and significantly increase your business’ profit margin.

3. What’s mine is mine. Know whether your environment will be dedicated to you, or shared with other clients. Shared environments increase risks and can bring competition for resources. However, dedicated environments will cost more.

4. Talk tech to me. Ask what tools and processes your provider uses to ensure methodology to their services. Make sure they have a project management office (PMO) and ideally, try to meet your assigned project manager.

5. No peeking. Is there a security-conscious environment dedicated to you, and no one else?

6. Show me the money. Don’t over-pay for premium-priced brands. It’s the people that manage the services, so take the time to meet them and learn about their backgrounds.

7. Check references. Talk to the provider’s clients, don’t just rely on what’s on the Internet or in the provider’s marketing material.

8. Instant gratification. Time is money, so determine how quickly your services can be up and running, and make sure you can provision new resources on-the-fly in minutes, not hours.

9. What if the building explodes? Make sure your provider offers disaster recovery for your critical applications. If not, even the best SLA won’t get your operations up and running again.

10. Return on investment. Do an ROI analysis to see whether it’s better to keep your James Fanella, StrataScaleinfrastructure and services internal, or to outsource. Be certain there’s a strong financial return.

About the Author

James Fanella is the President of StrataScale, Inc., a Sacramento, Calif.-based infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and managed services provider. He is also a former executive for Yahoo!, Unisys Corporation, and Sun Microsystems.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Affordable Optical Technology Needed Says HPE’s Daley

April 26, 2018

While not new, the challenges presented by computer cabling/PCB circuit routing design – cost, performance, space requirements, and power management – have coalesced into a major headache in advanced HPC system desig Read more…

By John Russell

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is built to run artificial intelligence (AI) workloads and, as Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Exascale System for Earth Simulation Introduced

April 23, 2018

After four years of development, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) will be unveiled today and released to the broader scientific community this month. The E3SM project is supported by the Department of Energy Read more…

By Staff

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

Affordable Optical Technology Needed Says HPE’s Daley

April 26, 2018

While not new, the challenges presented by computer cabling/PCB circuit routing design – cost, performance, space requirements, and power management – have Read more…

By John Russell

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Leading Solution Providers

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This