Cloud Solution Design: XaaS Mapping

Cloud Solution Design can mostly simply be thought of as a process of “XaaS Mapping”, refering to identifying which particular type of Cloud service might be the best fit for your particular business requirement(s).

As Microsoft describe in this blog the ‘Pizza as a Service’ is a popular metaphor for summarizing the Cloud market, and how it is mainly organized into IaaS, PaaS or SaaS product categories, collectively referred to as ‘XaaS’.


Your business requirements can be analyzed and mapped to one or more of these service, indicating which vendors you may want to consider for your vendor short list.

Siemie Engineering describe an equally simple example of how different vendors offer services at each level, such asL

  • IaaS: Amazon AWS
  • PaaS: Microsoft Azure
  • SaaS:

Each of these vendors also offers services in the other categories, and there are thousands of other options that also populate this landscape.

A key requirement of Cloud Solution Design expertise is knowledge of this ecosystem.

Solution Consulting Services

The simple images clarify the essential point, defining what services suppliers do and don’t include with that category of product.

Your own in-house skill sets will determine which you need, also defining the role of associated professional services.

For example Shopify provides an E-Commerce SaaS, making it easy to set up a fully functioning online catalogue. However there is still considerable work involved to bring it to life, and most importantly generate sales:

  • Organize and upload product catalogue, selecting the right images, writing product copy etc.

Business Capability Heat Mapping

To determine how your requirements can be identified and modeled on to these systems, a technique known as ‘Heat Mapping’ can be used.

Heat Mapping is the process of identifying the impact of future changes upon your current business systems.

What are Business Capabilities?

To be able to map new impacts you first have to be able to define what you have, and business architecture describes these in terms of ‘Business Capabilities’, so what are they?

William Ulrich, founder of the BA Guild, offers this cheat sheet, and in this article Demystifying Capabilities the author provides this introduction:

A business capability (or simply capability) describes a unique, collective organizational ability that can be applied to achieve a specific outcome. It describes what an organization is capable of doing, but not how it does it. A capability model describes the complete set of capabilities an organization requires to execute its business model or fulfill its mission. An easy way to grasp the concept is to think about capabilities as organizational level skills imbedded in people, process, and/or technology.

The article also provides a helpful example of a Capabilities List for IT systems, showing how they can be defined via a simple taxonomy that underpins their main lifecycle processes:

  1. Business Relationship Management
  2. IT Planning and Controls
  3. IT Administration and Management
  4. Solutions Delivery
    1. Deliver Solution Estimate and Impact Analysis
    2. Define and Manage Solution Architecture
      1. Define and Integrate Client Components
      2. Define and Integrate Information and Data Components
  5. Deliver Operations and Infrastructure

XaaS Mapping

One of the primary best practice reference used to define Cloud Solution Design is Microsoft’s own framework.

On slide 50 they show XaaS Mapping:


Neil McEvoy
About Neil McEvoy 18 Articles
Founder and CEO of the Cloud Best Practices Network.

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