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!

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HPE to provide the DoD High Performance Computing Modernizatio Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Topological Quantum Superconductor Progress Reported

February 20, 2018

Overcoming sensitivity to decoherence is a persistent stumbling block in efforts to build effective quantum computers. Now, a group of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) report progress in devisi Read more…

By John Russell

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled o Read more…

By Pete Beckman

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Safeguard Your HPC Environment with the World’s Most Secure Industry Standard Servers

Today’s organizations operate in an environment with ever-evolving threats, and in order to protect themselves they must continuously bolster their security strategy. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Intel® are addressing modern security challenges with the world’s most secure industry standard servers powered by the latest generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. Read more…

Intel Touts Silicon Spin Qubits for Quantum Computing

February 14, 2018

Debate around what makes a good qubit and how best to manufacture them is a sprawling topic. There are many insistent voices favoring one or another approach. Referencing a paper published today in Nature, Intel has offe Read more…

By John Russell

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penal Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. 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

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

The Food Industry’s Next Journey — from Mars to Exascale

February 12, 2018

Global food producer and one of the world's leading chocolate companies Mars Inc. has a unique perspective on the impact that exascale computing will have on the food industry. Read more…

By Scott Gibson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Singularity HPC Container Start-Up – Sylabs – Emerges from Stealth

February 8, 2018

The driving force behind Singularity, the popular HPC container technology, is bringing the open source platform to the enterprise with the launch of a new vent Read more…

By George Leopold

Dell EMC Debuts PowerEdge Servers with AMD EPYC Chips

February 6, 2018

AMD notched another EPYC processor win today with Dell EMC’s introduction of three PowerEdge servers (R6415, R7415, and R7425) based on the EPYC 7000-series p Read more…

By John Russell

‘Next Generation’ Universe Simulation Is Most Advanced Yet

February 5, 2018

The research group that gave us the most detailed time-lapse simulation of the universe’s evolution in 2014, spanning 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution, is back in the spotlight with an even more advanced cosmological model that is providing new insights into how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed, and where magnetic fields originate. 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

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

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

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

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

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

SC17: Singularity Preps Version 3.0, Nears 1M Containers Served Daily

November 1, 2017

Just a few months ago about half a million jobs were being run daily using Singularity containers, the LBNL-founded container platform intended for HPC. That wa Read more…

By John Russell

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