It seems that everything is defined with a suffix of 'as a service' these days. For example, 'Software as a Service' (SaaS), 'Hardware as a Service' (HaaS), 'Platform as a Service' (PaaS) and even 'Infrastructure as a service' (IaaS), to name but a few ...
The other term you will come across almost daily is 'hosted solutions' or 'cloud solutions, be it in a Telecoms and/or an IT context. Allow me to burst the bubble on these industry terms - you may not have heard the terminologies, but the underlying concepts have been in existence for decades.
It's basically an off-site telephone system, accessed across the internet and giving you 90% of the features you would expect from any on-site phone system. The difference is, you do not 'buy' a controller ('a box') to go on the wall in the office, to which phones are connected. Instead, you 'rent' a connection, across the internet and pay for each phone/handset that you want to be connected to your business. The system is 'hosted' by the 'platform' provider and is provided 'as a service'.
Pricing can vary from £5.00 per user per month, up to as much as £25.00 per user per month. There are currently over 70 commercial VoIP hosted system providers in the UK and you really do need an independent Telecoms specialist like me to understand your business and then find the right system to match your requirements!
You can purchase or rent the actual handsets on desks or opt for 'softphones', i.e. applications that sit on your desktop or an 'App' for your smartphone that is the 'office number'. Softphones are generally free and rely on a constant internet connection via Wi-Fi or 4g.
Microsoft 'Office 365' and 'Hosted Exchange' email are both essentially SaaS models and have a monthly subscription that gives you access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Sharepoint, OneDrive; depending on the annual fee you want to pay for the features you want. You can still 'buy' an 'Office' licence as a one-off purchase, but you don't get the continual updates that the SAAS model provides (i.e. Office 365 is always on the latest version).
This goes the same for 'servers'. Do you buy a £15K Server or look towards a PaaS/IaaS model, i.e. connecting each work desktop/laptop to a 'hosted server' and paying a monthly license fee per device/person.
There is also, what we call in the industry, 'hybrid' models in the world of Telecoms and IT which is a mixture of some equipment/services on-site and some equipment/services off-site.
As Openreach, the part of BT who own and operate the UK's copper infrastructure, move towards a full-fibre model, rivals such as CityFibre, offer 1,000 times better internet which makes the whole 'X as a Service' model more viable in terms of accessibility, but like the old days of renting a TV, work out the Total Cost of Ownership (although you will never own any sort of XaaS solution).
Consult an independent adviser to understand your business first and work with them to design a product/service model that will suit your business in the most efficient way for you and your team!
Don't let your host take advantage of you, make sure your host makes you feel welcome.
If you feel inspired to find out more then do call me on 07555 807700 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.