OMG Tries to Take the Confusion Out of aaS Terminology

A new OMG glossary seeks to clarify the different aaS (as-a-Service) offerings on the market today.

The Object Management Group (OMG) announced V1.0 of the Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) Glossary. The goal of the glossary is to eliminate confusion for end users about the suffix “as-a-service,” which has become a popular shorthand to describe solutions offered on a pay-as-you-go basis with elasticity and self-service procurement. The glossary, developed by the OMG Cloud Working Group, consists of a list of forty-eight aaS terms and their definitions and a set of references to the sources or definitions of those terms.

Why the need for such a glossary, and why now? The group noted that when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) came out with its Cloud Reference Model, it defined three cloud service models: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).

In the decade since that initial effort to define cloud services, there has been an explosion in new services, many of which are dubbed as as-a-Service offerings. The services cover a wide range of application areas and types of offerings. The common theme across all of them is that they are offered on a pay-as-you-go basis and typically tout elasticity and self-service procurement.

The OMG noted that given that broad and general description, there is room for confusion. For example, it noted that there are now multiple instances of the same abbreviation being used by different sources to mean different things. An example is AaaS, which is used for Analytics-as-a-Service, Anything-as-a-Service, and Authentication-as-a-Service. Another example is CaaS, which is used for Compute, Content, Containers, and Communications-as-a-Service.

And lacking an authority to define or standardize the terminology, new as-a-Service terms are “often an act of marketing by suppliers.” The glossary authors went on to say: “Calling one’s offering as-a-service is seen as giving it an aura of modernity and respectability, especially when larger customer organizations, including governments, mandate a “cloud-first” IT procurement policy.”

Furthermore, the glossary authors pointed out that it is not always clear that an offering given an “aaS” abbreviation meets the recognized criteria for this designation. They note that some may not be a service that can be consumed using a pay-as-you-go model, it may not be an elastic service, or it may not be available through a self-service portal.

See also: What is a Data Lakehouse? 

Some basic aaS definitions

The glossary seeks to simply clarify some of the different variants on the market today. The OMG notes that the glossary definitions do not have the authority of an official standard. However, as a collective product created and sanctioned by OMG’s Cloud Working Group, it will help companies make sense of the actual concepts covered by the various abbreviations, analyze how much is truly novel in each of them, and understand whether there is a type of service they are not using and should look into.

Several of the definitions in the glossary are of interest to the RTInsights and audiences. For example, one entry is: “Analytics-as-a-Service (AaaS), which provides subscription-based data analytics software and procedures through the cloud. AaaS typically offers a fully customizable BI solution with end-to-end capabilities, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data in a way that lets even non-IT professionals gain insight and take action.”

Others of interest include:

  • Business Process-as-a-Service
  • Compute-as-a-Service
  • Data-as-a-Service
  • Database-as-a-Service
  • Integration Platform-as-a-Service
  • Machine Learning-as-a-Service

The full glossary can be found here.

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