Cloud Computing: DaaS and Other XaaS Language

Academic institutions are beginning to embrace cloud computing for the agility and benefits it offers: a continuous stream of enhancements, on-demand access for users, outsourced system management, and subscription pricing that enables low-cost entry and long-term net savings for the institution. eCampusNews identifies migrating apps to the cloud as a rising IT trend going into the fall, and many new applications are offered as cloud service only.

Many institutions are going hybrid, mixing cloud and local resources, as they identify the benefits of each for various apps. Analyst IDC predicts that more than 65% of enterprise IT organizations across all industries will commit to hybrid cloud technologies before 2016.

The edtech market has responded with new Everything as a Service (XaaS) offerings. With XaaS acronyms abound, vocabulary can be…well, cloudy…and confusing. So here’s a roundup of terms and our viewpoint on one of them – DaaS (Data as a Service).


Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a delivery model where applications are accessed over the Internet on subscription rental terms. The SaaS provider takes care of system management and software updates, so users always get the latest version. SaaS is rapidly maturing, and while there are still some concerns about security, the overall benefits are clear. According to the 2014 Campus Computing Survey, almost half (47%) of campuses now report running their LMS in the cloud.


Student data access and security continue to be high technology investment areas for higher education, as demands for data increase. According to a recent Center for Digital Education survey, solutions for data security are a key investment area, for only 27% of educators say they are very confident with their current security protocols and technologies.

Data as a Service, or DaaS, enables institutions to integrate, govern, and provide access to student data at scale. App data, encrypted at rest and in transit, is stored in the cloud where authorized parties can securely access it using open APIs. Some fear that data in the cloud will increase risk of unwanted exposure. But a centralized DaaS solution can drive consistent security and governance practices to an integration strategy as an application portfolio expands, securing the institution of the future through improved data management practices.

According to a CIO Executive Council benchmark survey, 50% of higher education institutions are employing a hybrid model for their data storage. We expect an increasing level of comfort with cloud data as innovative DaaS solutions are introduced.

DaaS can also mean Desktop as a Service.  This refers to virtual desktops in the cloud for access to applications, data, and content on any device at any time, offering centralized management and BYOD support benefits to IT. 

IaaS, PaaS, iPaaS

Infrastructure and platform have also recently emerged as a service. Meritalk’s cloud campus study defines IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, as a standardized, highly automated offering, where compute resources, complemented by storage and networking capabilities, are owned and hosted by a service provider and offered to customers on demand.  They define PaaS, or Platform as a Service, as a cloud service that offers a computing platform and a solution stack as a service. Gartner Group defines iPaaS, or Integration Platform as a Service as a suite of cloud services enabling development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations. Infrastructure and platform services have had challenges with adoption due to implementation and management complexity. Institutions who deploy them can also benefit from Data as a Service (DaaS) for initiatives that involve data storage and API management. 

Where Do You Stand?

Where does your institution stand today with transition to the cloud? Tell us about your XaaS experiences or plans.