- Cloud Computing and IoT
- How to Build Everything as a Service (XaaS)?
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Can you offer multiple services over the cloud? Consider using the “Everything-as-a-Service” or “Anything-as-a-Service” (XaaS) approach. In this article, we explain how to build everything as a service. Take the following steps:
1. Form a small team for project kick-off, project definition, and project planning
How do you start a project to build everything as a service? Form a small leadership team. You need this team to initiate, define, and plan the project.
Hire a competent and experienced project manager (PM). You need an experienced software architect, furthermore, you need a few business analysts (BAs).
The PM should work with the business stakeholders to choose XaaS models and strategies. You need the architect to create the technical solutions.
BAs should gather and document the business requirements. The architect should define the non-functional requirements (NFRs). You need the PM to lead the team and oversee these activities.
2. Choose the appropriate XaaS business model
You need to zero in on the right XaaS model for your business. There are various everything-as-a-service operating models. These are as follows:
- Freemium model;
- Flat-rate pricing;
- “Pay as you go” or usage-based pricing model;
- Tiered pricing model;
- Per-user pricing model;
- Per-active user pricing model;
- Per-feature pricing model.
In addition to choosing the right business model, you need to choose the right pricing strategy. You have the following options:
- Cost-plus pricing;
- Competitor-based pricing;
- Value-based pricing.
You need the PM, architect, and BAs to work closely with your business stakeholders to choose an operating model and pricing strategy.
3. Decide on the service offerings, functionalities, features, and the project scope
What will you offer to your customers? Consider the following aspects:
Understanding your customers
Who are your customers? Do you sell your existing products and services to individual buyers? Do you target businesses? Who in the customer organization do you target, e.g., CXOs, leaders of business units, IT leaders, etc.?
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What is the “value” that you sell to them? E.g., can they save money by reducing operational costs if they use your cloud services?
Gather intelligence about your current and prospective customers. Use tools like market surveys, market researche, CSAT (customer satisfaction) survey results, etc.
Determine the products or services that you can offer as XaaS
You might already be offering certain services targeting specific business processes. Which one of them can you offer as cloud-based services? Can you offer your work-in-progress products and services over a cloud computing platform?
Analyze these questions. Furthermore, study your competitors in your target areas. Let’s see a few examples:
- Study the operations and strategies of Google App Engine if you plan to offer a PaaS (platform-as-a-service) platform.
- Can you offer IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) so that customers don’t need to invest in data centers? Study the success stories of providers like Microsoft Azure or AWS.
- Analyze how HPE Greenlake succeeds if you want to offer data storage as a service.
Decide the functionalities and features to offer
You need the business analysts to gather the functional requirements. They might need to interview end-users and brainstorm with the business stakeholders. BAs might also conduct market surveys, study your competitors, and review industry trends. You need to identify the target platforms like the web, Android, iOS, etc.
Identify the non-functional requirements
You need the architect to zero in on the non-functional requirements (NFRs). Performance, scalability, maintainability, testability, and security are a few examples of NFRs. The architect needs to analyze industry benchmarks and best practices for this.
Document, review, finalize, and manage the requirements
You need the architect and BAs to write the requirements effectively. The PM needs to set up a requirements review and approval process. The PM must establish a requirement change management process too.
4. Identify the features for your MVP (minimum viable product)
You might have identified several products and services as cloud services. Furthermore, you have identified the functionalities and features.
However, you need to validate your business ideas. You need to test the product ideas in the market.
An MVP (minimum viable product) helps you to do exactly that. While a functional product, an MVP has fewer features. You can develop and launch it quickly.
This helps you to get market feedback quickly. You can then enhance the product or go back to the drawing board. Identify features with the highest impact and ease of implementation, and include them in your MVP.
5. Decide on the technology stack
Choose the technology stack and development tools. You need to make decisions on the following:
You can use a variety of programming languages for backend web development. Java, Golang, and Python are some of the good choices.
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We recommend you develop native mobile apps. Native mobile apps offer the best user experience, performance, and security.
You might be able to save development costs if you develop cross-platform apps. However, cross-platform apps can’t deliver the performance, security, and user experience of native apps.
You can use Java for native Android development. Many Android developers use it, and you can find developers relatively easily. Java offers robust performance, security, and maintainability.
You can also use Kotlin for native Android development. This modern language is feature-rich, and it offers excellent performance and security. More Android developers use Java than Kotlin though.
You will likely need a relational database management system (RDBMS). Use either MySQL or PostgreSQL. Both of these open-source SQL databases are well-known and feature-rich.
Use MongoDB or Apache Cassandra if you need a NoSQL database. Both of them are open-source, and they offer high scalability.
You will likely develop several 1st party APIs. You can use either REST (Representational State Transfer) or GraphQL for API development. While REST is a well-known standard for API development, GraphQL is relatively new.
GraphQL offers notable advantages like efficiency. However, most developers are more familiar with REST API development. Choose the option that suits you better.
Niche technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (AI), IoT (Internet of Things), etc.
Your choice of niche technologies depends on the functionalities and features you offer. Use Python if you need AI and ML development. This open-source language offers excellent libraries for AI/ML development. Use Java if you need to undertake IoT development.
Development and testing tools
Use suitable development and testing tools to expedite your project. The following are a few examples:
- The Eclipse IDE for web development;
- Android Studio, the popular IDE for native Android development;
- Xcode, the well-known IDE for native iOS development;
- Espresso for Android testing;
- XCTest for iOS testing.
A note on using a cloud computing platform
You are planning to build a XaaS platform. Therefore, we assume that you already have considerable cloud computing capabilities. Whether it’s computing power, IT resources, data storage, hybrid cloud, or other cloud-based services, we assume that you can manage it all.
Therefore, we believe that you will use your own cloud computing capabilities. You can explore existing cloud computing providers only for specific needs. E.g., you can use AWS Amplify, a well-known MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service) platform to manage mobile back-end systems.
6. Plan the XaaS development project
You need the PM to create a comprehensive project plan. The PM should cover the following:
- The software development methodology;
- Project tasks and their estimates;
- Dependencies among tasks;
- Project schedule;
- The project technical environment, e.g., tools, frameworks, etc.;
- Human resource management;
- Metrics and measurement;
- Quality management;
- Risk management;
- Communications management.
7. Hire a XaaS development team
You need to hire capable people for the following roles:
- User interface (UI) designers;
- Web developers;
- Native Android developers;
- Native iOS developers;
- Developers for advanced technologies like AI, ML, IoT, AR, VR, etc. based on your requirements;
- DevOps engineers.
The right hiring approach
You need to recognize that developing a XaaS platform can be complex. You need a dedicated, skilled, competent, experienced, and motivated team. Do you already have an in-house team? Use the right hiring approach if you don’t.
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We recommend you hire developers from hybrid development companies like DevTeam.Space. Such companies provide full-time developers.
Programmers from these companies regularly upskill themselves. Companies like DevTeam.Space follow stringent screening processes too. Such companies offer career development opportunities, which keep software engineers motivated.
Hybrid development companies work on a variety of projects. Therefore, their developers have a wide range of experience.
You might have toyed with the idea of hiring freelancers. We don’t recommend this approach though. Freelancers work part-time, and a XaaS development project is too complex for that.
Freelance developers work in silos. You need to integrate their work, which requires extensive project management effort. Freelance platforms don’t offer any management support. You need to find replacement developers if freelancers leave the project mid-way.
8. Organize the team for client value and productivity
You have hired developers, and now you need to build an effective team. An effective software development team focuses on delivering sustained value to clients. Such teams continuously improve their productivity.
We recommend you use the scrum framework to build such a team. A scrum master leads a scrum team. Empowerment and collaboration are key characteristics of scrum teams. Such a team works as follows:
- Developers and testers work together in scrum teams since these are cross-functional teams.
- A product owner maintains the product backlog. It contains the product features.
- The team estimates the features. Scrum teams schedule features in sprints, i.e., iterations. They do this in a sprint planning meeting.
- Scrum teams follow the required software development processes. However, they minimize the process overheads.
- Scrum teams conduct a daily stand-up meeting to discuss project status and resolve issues.
- They demonstrate the product in a sprint review meeting. They ask for the sprint approval from the business stakeholders in this meeting.
- Scrum teams conduct a lessons-learned exercise named the sprint retrospective meeting after the sprint.
9. Executing, monitoring, and controlling the project
You need the PM to lead the team in project execution. The key tasks that need focus are as follows:
- UI design;
- API development;
- Web development;
- Mobile development;
- Developing services requiring advanced technologies like AI/ML/IoT/AR/VR;
- Integrating 3rd party APIs if applicable;
- Code review;
- Post-deployment support.
The PM should proactively monitor the project. If the project team deviates from the budget, schedule, and quality objectives of the project, then the PM needs to implement corrective actions. You need the PM to routinely provide status reports to all the relevant stakeholders.
10. Assessing the success of the everything-as-a-service (XaaS) platform
Did you meet the customer expectations with your XaaS platform? How do you measure the business outcomes of your XaaS development project? Measure the important product management KPIs, which are as follows:
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT);
- Customer churn;
- Retention rate;
- Customer lifetime value;
- Conversion rate;
- Customer acquisition costs (CAC);
- The number of customer support tickets;
- Daily active users (DAUs);
- Monthly active users (MAUs);
- Session duration;
- Bounce rate;
- The number of user actions per session;
- Monthly recurring revenue (MRR);
- The average revenue per user (ARPU);
- Net promoter score (NPS).
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The XaaS market conditions are promising, and there’s increasing demand for XaaS offerings. Market research reports say that this market was valued at $436.82 billion in 2021. Reports state that the global XaaS market will grow to $2,378.07 billion by 2029.
SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), AaaS (Analytics-as-a-Service), DaaS (Desktop-as-a-Service), FaaS (Functions-as-a-Service), STaaS (Storage-as-a-Service), CaaS (Containers-as-a-Service), DBaaS (Database-as-a-Service), and SECaaS (Security-as-a-Service) are examples of XaaS.
The top XaaS providers are Cisco, AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Alphabet, IBM, Digital Ocean, Zoho, SAP, Adobe, and Alibaba.