A pain in the -aaS

The tendency to slap '-as-a-service' on the end of anything that's offered as a shared service is now starting to rival the over-used '2.0' meme. Why can't we just talk about 'services' and be done with it?

The tendency to slap '-as-a-service' on the end of anything that's offered as a shared service is now starting to rival the over-used '2.0' meme, notes SaaS Week's Krissi Danielsson. She's assembled a quick glossary of more than eighteen different variations, ranging from the faintly bizarre ('Ethernet-as-a-Service'!?) to the utterly world-weary ('Whatever-as-a-Service').

The good news is that the concept of delivering business technology in a services idiom is hitting the mainstream. The bad news is that slapdash use of contrived modifiers like -aaS, -oriented and '2.0' makes it all sound like gobbledegook to the average Joe in the street. This kind of specialist jargon only serves a purpose when the people using it are familiar with the context that gave it meaning. Now that these ugly suffixes have crossed over into the mainstream, their linguistic contortions are obscuring a simple truth: It's all about services, doh! Here's my take:

"The common unifying factor here is a services idiom, in which providers autonomously deliver results according to contracts. That describes SOA and SaaS and Web 2.0."

So why can't we just talk about 'services' and be done with it? Businesses have always delivered services — from long before software and the Web came along to help them do it better, cheaper, faster. Do we really have to call that business-as-a-service? Service-oriented business? Business 2.0? Let's not make it such a pain in the -aaS. This is how forward-looking organizations do business in the modern world.

PS: I'll be discussing the rich lexicon of aaS-oriented 2.0, among other matters, in a webcast discussion tomorrow with fellow ZDNet bloggers Dana Gardner and Joe McKendrick (who once courted infamy by invoking the tautology Mashups as a Service (MaaS)).

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