The real meaning of… 'As A Service'

‘As A Service’: It’s bunged onto everything – as a disservice to our understanding

The first in a new series: Nick Booth’s A to Z of tech jargon


The term ‘aaS’ stands for the phrase ‘as a service’ which comes after anything delivered over the cloud. As in ‘infrastructure as a service’, which is inevitably abbreviated to IaaS.

What they really mean is that they’re offering an infrastructure service, but that would make too much grammatical sense, which wouldn’t be right for the cloud computing industry, where words have no meaning. Still, let’s not be picky. It’s not as if accuracy of definition is important in the Information Age, is it?

The success of the cloud means that the aaS suffix is bunged onto the end of everything in a desperate attempt to add marketing value. Which in itself means it’s a sort of suffix as a service.

Where did this start? Somebody had the not entirely original idea of renting out the use of a computer online. Decades ago this was called a bureau service. For marketing reasons this wouldn’t do, so it was rebadged as Platform as a Service. PaaS was a massive hit and, as with every unexpected box-office smash, there are now endless sequels and lookalikes being launched. Normal services, like networking, recovery and security, are now being launched as XaaS services.

However, by selling one’s aaS too cheaply, its desirability has diminished. The Robot as a Service (RaaS) sounds like a very rude in Jamaica swear word, while Logging as a Service is the LaaS straw, as far as I’m concerned.

Some of these terms sound like really lame aaS ideas.

Take the ‘as a’ out of Search as a Service and you have a more sensible sounding offering. That ‘as a’ adds nothing. It’s doing us all a disservice - as a service.



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