“as a Service” moniker considered harmful (IOW: Say NO to *aaS!)

This is a humble (possibly overdue) call for the community to start thinking about adopting sensible cloud computing nomenclature – it’s going to happen eventually anyway so we may as well get started now.

While toiling away putting lines on the road for cloud computing at 3am on a weekday (which is to say, writing cloud standards) I saw something which nearly made me lose my beer via my nose: a straight-faced proposal for the community to adopt “Data Storage as a Service (DaaS)” as the “formal term” for what we currently call “Cloud Storage” (courtesy SNIA’s “Cloud Storage” technical working group no less). Perhaps they missed the memo (or nobody bothered to write it), but I doubt I’m the first to observe the “as a Service (aaS)” moniker has done its job and is now well past its use by date.

Sure, yesterday we used to buy software, platforms and infrastructure as products, but you never saw anyone advertising “Software as a Product”, “Platform as a Product” or “Infrastructure as a Product” now, did you? It sounds silly because it is. We used to buy electricity as a product too you know (in the form of a generator) but now it’s just plain old electricity. I can hardly imagine Thomas Edison standing on Pearl Street, NY trumpeting “Electricity as a Service”, but it’s hard not to conjure up the same image when hearing vendors sprouting off about it.

Fortunately there’s a simple solution – just drop the superfluous “as a” which is sandwiched in the middle and optionally add a dash of cloud to taste (all lowercase where possible per CMOS, and resist the urge to abbreviate):

  • “Software as a Service” becomes [cloud] software services
  • “Platform as a Service” becomes [cloud] platform services
  • “Infrastructure as a Service” becomes [cloud] infrastructure services

We’ll know we’ve been successful when cloud fades off into the background (it’s already optional above), and even more so when it’s not necessary to differentiate between products and services (that is, when it’s just “software”, “platform” and “infrastructure” again because nobody in their right mind would use products when better/faster/cheaper services are available).

Anyway before I hit the hay, here’s what I had to say on the proposal (which as it turns out has more serious problems in the form of existing registered trademarks):

Morning all,
First, congratulations for promptly getting some deliverables out the door.

Please though, for the love of $GOD, find a more sensible name for it than “Data Storage as a Service (DaaS)”.

I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’s had enough of all the unnecessary *aaS and to that end propose the following transitions as the technology matures (we’ll know we’ve been successful when the “cloud” moniker fades away):

  • Software as a Service -> cloud software services -> cloud software -> software
  • Platform as a Service -> cloud platform services -> cloud platform -> platform
  • Infrastructure as a Service -> cloud infrastructure services -> cloud infrastructure -> infrastructure

For storage then it would go something like:

  • Data Storage as a Service -> cloud storage services -> cloud storage -> storage

I have solid basis for this too, from my Sanity as a service: marketing gone mad post last year:

DaaS is a hive of activity too – AServer will tell you it stands for Datacenter as a Service™ but Q-Layer already tried that. Too bad for Desktone who are on the road to registering Desktops as a Service™

The A-Server guys are having another crack at the trademark after abandoning the first one, and have been told that Desktone already beat them to it. In any case, for many it means “Data as a Service” in reference to the actual data itself (think Amazon Public Data Sets).

Hope this helps avoid some trouble down the road,


Now please, go forth and do your bit to make the world a better place.

By Sam Johnston

Sam Johnston CMgr FIML GAICD MACS Snr CP is an Australian technology executive and serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience founding and advising startups, and in leadership roles at top global technology companies including Citrix, Google, and Equinix.

Sam is currently the director of labs at DXC Technology, whose mission is to ensure the company is fully equipped with the emerging digital technologies it needs to lead clients through accelerating change, including drones, robotics & humanoids, 3D printing, computer vision & voice, augmented & virtual reality, artificial intelligence & machine learning, blockchain, chatbots, and quantum computing.

Sam has a bachelor of computer science degree from the University of New South Wales, and is based in Singapore, having worked in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA.