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What is “As a Service”? How Does It Relate to Unified Communications?

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

This post was originally written and published on RingCentral by Andy Cheng on July 14, 2020.

XaaS or the “as a service” tag at the end of software names refers to the delivery of anything over a network, also known as the cloud. The opposite of XaaS is software hosted locally or on-site. 

XaaS is part of the movement towards cloud technologies called digital transformation. This refers to the use of digital technology to solve problems, increase productivity, and make previously manual processes automatic. 

There are several types of products delivered through the cloud, including: 

  • Software as a service (SaaS): a software licensing and delivery model in which a software program is cloud-hosted and licensed to users on a subscription basis. Users can access SaaS applications via a web browser or locally stored on their computers. SaaS products include: Google Apps, Dropbox, Salesforce, and RingCentral.

  • Platform as a service (PaaS): a provider delivers a user a platform on which users can run business applications. The provider runs the servier and manages the infrastructure, but users can still customize their business applications. PaaS products include: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Apache Stratos, and Google App Engine.

  • Infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, is an alternative form of cloud computing that provides details about network infrastructure over the internet. With this model, users can access physical computing resources, location, data partitioning, scaling, security, and backups. IaaS products include: Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and IBM Smartcloud.

Why is everything a service now?

One of the biggest reasons organizations are moving to the cloud is to save money. When an organization hosts a software application locally, they pay for installation costs and the real estate to store on-premises infrastructure. With cloud-based tools, however, the provider is responsible for the setup and maintenance, and the user only pays a monthly subscription fee for the services they need. This allows companies to save on installation, space, maintenance, and personnel.

Another benefit of cloud software is scalability. Once an organization migrates to the cloud, it’s easier to add users, implement new features, and roll out updates. For example, if an organization decides to add more employees, they can simply work with their cloud provider to upgrade their service. If their software was on-premises, they’d have to install new infrastructure or hope existing servers could handle the extra bandwidth.

In addition, with cloud software, the provider handles all maintenance and security, making sure services stay up and running at all times. With the responsibility of uptime shifted to the provider, organizations can redirect focus to other areas instead.

What is unified communications as a service (UCaaS)?

UCaaS is a communication and collaboration tool that merges all of an organization’s communications into a single application. It combines team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone into one platform that users can access from any device, from any location, and at any time. 

“As a service” is incorporated into unified communications to describe how a provider delivers this platform over the internet to an organization. There are many benefits to hosting every communication function under one umbrella for organizations.

  • Expedited training and management: There are fewer applications that employees need to learn, which expedites training and software management. This means organizations don’t need to hire an entire IT team to oversee on-premises software and application downloads.

  • Streamlined updates and support: Organizations can work with a single provider for updates and support. With hosted software, it’s easy to add new users, request new functionality, and receive software updates – all handled by the provider with minimal responsibility on an organization’s shoulders. 

  • Lower cost: Using a single provider for all communications results in a lower monthly cost when compared to using one provider for messaging, one provider for video, and another provider for phone.

Implementing “as a service” software

As more workflows move to the cloud, today’s organizations should consider whether cloud services make sense for their business needs. Replacing existing workflows with “as a service” solutions can not only save businesses money on infrastructure costs, but also ensure that their technologies are future-proofed and scalable.

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