The cloud is here—and so are its acronyms. Since software as a service (SaaS) hit the world in 2001, the ‘as a service’ model has been extended to just about everything you can think of.
Along the way, the definition has become a little muddied. It used to be that -aaS meant something delivered on a subscription basis via the cloud, without a physical component. Hence software delivered to your computer continually via the internet rather than a program you purchased for a one-time fee and installed from a disc.
These days, though, -aaS can mean just about anything delivered by subscription or even just a plain old outsourced service, whether the cloud is involved or not. Some -aaS models are an industry category and some are proprietary to a single company. It’s enough to drive an IT pro mad trying to keep up.
So if your head is spinning, don’t worry—you’re not the only one. To help, we’ve pulled together a list of 51 ‘as a service’ offerings, everything from AIaaS to XaaS. For 25 of the most important, we provide a brief description and a look at the market opportunity.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.
Artificial Intelligence as a Service
Allows developers to experiment with AI and test different machine learning algorithms without a huge initial investment and with lower risk.
Market: A new sector that’s expected to grow from $2.3 million in 2017 to $77 million by 2025.
Backend as a Service
Backend cloud storage and processing for faster application development. Helps developers focus on their app’s features instead of spending time wondering how to scale.
Market: Developing sector growing at lightning speed, shows no sign of stopping. Expected to grow by $7 billion by 2024.
Backup as a Service
Blockchain as a Service
Building as a Service
Cloud as a Service
Also known as “cloud services,” CaaS is an all-in-one service offering that combines Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service technologies in one subscription.
Market: Valued at $264.8 billion in 2019 and projected to reach $927.5 billion by 2027.
Containers as a Service
A complete runtime environment hosted in the cloud. Containers package up an app with all the bits it needs and standardize how it runs. Cloud containers make it even easier to test from anywhere, so no wonder the sector is exploding.
Market: Valued at $1.3 billion in 2018 and projected to reach $13.7 billion by 2026.
Country as a Service
What if you’re Estonia—technically advanced with high living standards—but no one wants to live there? Offer e-residency with access to a variety of digital services in the country. Where could this go in the future? Watch for developments in banking, tax, and business.
Market: Unknown, but the Estonian government forecasts that folks outside of the country will create more companies in the country than Estonians themselves by 2022.
Commerce as a Service
Communications as a Service
Compiler as a Service
Compliance as a Service
Content as a Service
Data as a Service
When data is siloed off, it’s not working as hard as it could. By centralizing data in the cloud, it can be accessed easily and analyzed far more deeply.
Market: Expected to grow from $11.3 billion in 2019 to $42.7 billion by 2024.
Desktop as a Service
See Workspace as a Service
Device as a Service
(aka Hardware as a Service, Notebook as a Service)
Companies pay a monthly fee to lease the latest hardware, along with ongoing management and support. A recurring revenue opportunity for MSPs—or a chance for hardware vendors to disintermediate them? HP, for one, offers device aaS as a channel program, and Lenovo is also getting in on the action. Seems most vendors will. See Surface as a service.
Market: The global DaaS market is projected to expand at a 54.7% compound annual growth rate and reach $66.1 million by 2023.
Database as a Service
Disaster Recovery as a Service
Leaps into action in the event of a catastrophe to repopulate your network’s data, infrastructure, and applications—ideally before your users even notice a hiccup. More robust than backup aaS.
Market: A quickly expanding market that’s expected to grow from $1.72 billion in 2016 to $12.54 billion by 2022.
(Test) Environment as a Service
Going further than virtual machines or containers, provides test management, test case development, and test execution.
Market: A new market seeing strong growth. Expected compound annual growth of 20% from 2020 to 2025.
Framework as a Service
A service offering that falls between Software as a Service and Platform as a Service—it’s a software framework that provides a customizable foundation for developing apps or systems. It’s not a finished product like SaaS, but it requires less work to implement than a PaaS system.
Market: Unknown, but Microsoft Azure has been referred to as a FaaS solution since it has features that provide frameworks for developing cloud-based apps.
Hardware as a Service
See Device as a Service, Notebook as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service
One of the fundamental -aaS offerings. Makes world-class IT infrastructure available to any size of business, with setup and maintenance outsourced to third parties. A huge number of platforms, applications, and software have been built on cloud infrastructure.
Market: A booming sector that keeps growing. Expected to skyrocket from $38.9 billion in 2019 to $201.8 billion by 2027. Behemoths AWS, Google, IBM, and Microsoft dominate.
Identity as a Service
IoT as a Service
A “pay as you go” service for IoT devices, so you only use the devices and resources you need at the time. IoTaaS is great for scenarios where there are sudden spikes in customer need and you need to quickly set up and tear down resources and don’t want to incur costs for devices you only need for a short period of time.
Market: Unknown, but Microsoft has gotten in on the action in recent years.
Knowledge as a Service
A computing service that delivers knowledge—which is data with context—to users, as opposed to just data or information.
Location as a Service
Retail (and other) companies sit on an enormous quantity of customer location data without the tools to pull business insight from it. Location aaS lets them rent high quality location data analysis.
Market: An emerging sector, expected to grow to $99 billion by 2023.
Linux as a Service
Logging as a Service
Monitoring as a Service
Oversees from the cloud how IT infrastructure, systems, and apps are running. Avoids having to purchase and install a potentially costly on-premises monitoring tool.
Market: Expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2017 to $4.8 billion by 2025.
Management as a Service
Messaging as a Service
(Bare) Metal as a Service
Mobile Backend as a Service
Network as a Service
Rented network functionality from a third-party that owns the infrastructure, usually an ISP. Scale up or down on port capacity as needed—works best for companies with highly variable demand.
Market: Projected to grow from $4.3 billion in 2018 to $21.7 billion by 2023.
Notebook as a Service
Operations as a Service
A third-party services that helps businesses design, build, maintain, and monitor the IT infrastructure of their dreams. A new name for a managed service you’ve likely been offering for years.
Platform as a Service
IaaS moves IT hardware to the cloud but opens new challenges for developers in configuring and operating their app deployment platforms. Platform aaS is the answer. Provides not just infrastructure but operating systems, software, databases, and other useful tools.
Market: Much smaller than IaaS but growing rapidly. Projected to grow to $52.4 billion at a compound annual growth rate of 15.4% through 2022.
Ransomware as a Service
DIY ransomware kits that would-be criminals can purchase and implement. One service you don’t want to deliver. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot you can do about the sale of code kits online. What you can do? Protect against ransomware when it attacks.
Market: Oversupply is driving the cost of kits down—that’s bad.
Software as a Service
Centrally hosted software with subscription licences. The grandaddy of the entire -aaS market. Providers like it because regular monthly payments are better than one-time deals, and clients like its flexibility.
Market: The global market is projected to grow from $158.2 billion in 2020 to a whopping $307.3 billion by 2026.
(IT) Security as a Service
Outsourced management of a company’s network security and data regulation/compliance to a third party—like a MSSP (managed security service provider).
Market: Expected to grow from $11.1 billion in 2020 to $26.4 billion by 2025.
Storage as a Service
Surface as a Service
Unified Communications as a Service
Managed and hosted communications channels. VoIP, instant messaging, LinkedIn, Skype, phones, Wi-Fi, social media… new communication channels appear at ever-shorter intervals and businesses struggle to keep their networks organized, secure, and efficient. Unified communications aaS vendors take care of all the hardware and software while guaranteeing a level of quality.
Market: Strong, established market with steady growth. Expected to expand from $15.8 billion in 2019 to $24.8 billion by 2024.
Understanding as a Service
Video as a Service
Cloud-hosted video conferencing. As more companies move from phone to video conferencing, the IT headaches of keeping them running multiply. Companies moving to cloud-based video aaS enjoy higher-quality images and fewer dropped calls, with technicians on standby to keep things running smoothly.
Market: Previously expected to expand from $390.3 million in 2016 to USD $1.8 billion by 2021, but it’s likely more now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virtualization as a Service
One distant server, many accessible virtual machines. Ten years ago, turning one physical server into several virtual machines was a groundbreaking way to fully use server capacity and free up physical space. Today, it can be done via the cloud.
Market: Virtualization as a whole is considered a mature market—not many new opportunities here. Still, the market’s projected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% through 2022.
Workspace as a Service
Virtual desktop environments. Just log in to access your office desktop, exactly as you like it, with all the business data and applications you need, from any device you choose. Easy to see why this sector has taken off, especially among companies with remote workers and small businesses without resources to efficiently manage their own IT.
Market: Large and growing steadily. Market was valued at $4.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $8.5 billion by 2025.
Wi-Fi as a Service
Windows as a Service
Anything (or everything) as a Service
Market: Expected to reach $344.3 billion by 2024.