DaaS or DaaS, or even DaaS?

We love acronyms in IT, see, we even define ourselves by one.

Sometimes we try to be cute with them and make words out of them: RADIUS – Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service.

Sometimes we create acronyms that enter the popular lexicon as words without people realising that they are acronyms:

  • LAN –  Local area network
  • RAM – Random Access Memory

Sometimes we get all wrapped up using the same acronym for multiple meanings.

In recent weeks I’ve found myself involved in multiple conversations about DaaS, which is pronounced “DAS”, generally with a hard-“A” (like the detergent), but sometimes with a kind of confused stutter as people try to pronounce both “A”s.

(This is one of those acronyms where saying the letters – D-a-a-S – is nearly as long as saying the meanings, and neither is very comfortable to say.)

Anyway, getting back to the point, DaaS, what does it mean? Well, it depends. It has a different meaning in different contexts, which, personally I find infuriating, especially as a couple of the contexts are quite similar.

DaaS #1 – Desktop-as-a-Service

I think that this one can claim to have been around the longest. It refers to the provision of virtual desktops as a pay-per-use service.

Lots of organisations use virtual desktop service, what makes this as-a-Service is that it’s delivered by a cloud infrastructure. AWS, Microsoft and VMware all have Desktop-as-a-Service offerings which you can purchase and use without the need for any internal capabilities.

DaaS #2 – Device-as-a-Service

Really, yes, “Device-as-a-Service” is different to “Desktop-as-a-Service”.

Device-as-a-Service has absolutely nothing to do with virtual desktops, it’s all about physical devices. If you’ve had a mobile phone contract which included the phone hardware then you’ve used something similar to Device-as-a-Service, you paid a monthly fee for the device in the expectation of certain services. Managing a large estate of devices is a complicated thing to do and adds little value to most organisations. Creating an arrangement with a third party to lease devices and let them manage the inventory gives them the problem, but also, potentially, allows your organisation more flexibility.

DaaS #3 – Data-as-a-Service

Once upon a time Microsoft produced an interactive encyclopedia application called Encarta, it shipped on a set of CDs and later DVDs. To get access to the data you needed to buy and use the application, the two were bundled together. The internet changed all of that and Encarta became obsolete in 2009.

The internet as a data source also made obsolete the need for applications to own the embedded data.  Lots of applications now use data that comes from other sources, sometimes that data is given away, sometimes it’s provided on an as-a-Service basis where people pay to use it. In some industries bureau have been set up to provide this data to the people willing to pay for it, one example of this is the credit check agencies who take the various sources of data about our financial situation, analyse it, and provide the results back to the financial institutions.

So there you have it, the same four letters, three different meanings.

I suppose that I ought to go now and use my DaaS provided equipment to access a DaaS so that I can use my application that gets its data from a DaaS source.

Acronyms: PDA

PDA: Personal Digital Assistant

I thought this acronym had gone to the acronym retirement village sitting next to its relative PIM (personal information manager). I thought that PDA was a term only used when talk about the past, but recently someone used it when talking about current technology. This got me thinking, when did we stop talking about PDAs?

I never really got into the Palm Pilot or any of its siblings. I did plenty of fiddling around with them in support of other people using them though. These were the first PDA for most people:

I also did some fiddling around in support of HP Jornado devices. Windows CE was such an interesting operating system but it wasn’t that engaging:

My first PDA was a Compaq iPaq which is still in the legacy device museum in the garage; it won’t boot and its battery is dead.

I didn’t buy it because, at the time, I was a father of two young children – I won it at a conference. It was such good fun to try to synchronise it with cc:Mail:

None of these devices was an out-and-out success and they were all blown sideways by the first iPhone; the iPhone 3 blew them away completely with each one leaving the field soon after its release.

The device that survived for a little while longer were a series of Blackberry devices, my favourite was probably the Blackberry Bold 9000, but I don’t ever remember calling this a PDA:

Jimmy does BlackBerry

Blackberry had little chance against the iPhone; when Android was purchased and subsequently release by Google it delivered a bullet wound from which it is still on intensive care but is highly unlikely to recover.

I’m currently carrying around both an iPhone 5S and a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini – I definitely don’t call either of these a PDA. The current smartphones are nearer to the initial vision of the personal digital assistant than anything that has come beforehand, but we’ve moved on. We’ve retired the acronym before it came to fruition, or so I thought? Perhaps we should go retrospective and bring it back?

Acronyms: SMAC

Acronyms invade our world every day. Sometimes I quite like them, other times I don’t. This one is one the ‘don’t like’ side, but it’s increasing in popularity so I thought I would document it here:

SMAC: Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud

It brings together a number of growing trends in the IT arena that are having a direct impact on day-to-day and business life.

In the private sector, the new technologies known collectively as SMAC – social media, mobile, analytics and cloud – are driving revolutionary changes in how companies interact with their customers. – CSC

While social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies add a new dimension to your business model, to fully maximize their value consider the sum is greater than its parts. – Cognizant

Every fifteen years or so, the IT industry has witnessed new innovations in computing which have changed the way IT services are delivered to the business and end users. After the mainframe era, mini-computing era, personal computer and client-server era, and the Internet era (or more correctly, the “Web” era), we’re now in what many call the fifth wave of corporate IT. This fifth wave is characterized by a new master IT architecture comprised of social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies collectively known as SMAC. – ComputerWorld

The next wave of IT can be found in Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud (SMAC) delivered as a holistic solution known as the SMAC stack. SMAC technologies are redefining enterprise IT and will remain the driving force of enterprise level IT for decades to come. – CapGemini


SMAC apparently started being used in the 1940’s, but I suspect that was for a different meaning as there are many. A few of the meanings are here on Wikipedia, the Social Mobile Analytics Cloud page on Wikipedia has been deleted so that link doesn’t give any useful insight. Uses of SMAC also include the Scottish Macaroni Appreciation Club.

I’m not completely sure why I don’t like it as an acronym but it has a lot to do with the association to illegal drugs and violence towards children.

Like all good IT acronyms people will love to use and abuse it to the point where it no longer has any meaning (see Concept Entropy). I suspect that SMAC will cease to have any meaning by about this time next year, especially as it has within it Cloud which has already lost its meaning and Social which is approaching meaninglessness.

Off now to see if I can find some innovative SMAC (yuck).

There’s always the danger that we get the letters the wrong way around and end up with a completely different acronym:

Acronyms: BATS

In the early days of email my manager referred to it as BATS by which he meant Blame Allocation and Transfer System.

When he first used the phrase I wasn’t sure what he meant but over the years I have had many reasons to refer to email as BATS.

Chatworth with the FamilyAnyone who has been involved in email for any period of time has seen the situation where someone sends an email to a whole host of recipients for the sole purpose of CYA (Cover Your Ass).

In later discussion on the subject the sender says – “well I sent you an email about it”. The sending of the email is regarded as the ultimate seal of the transaction. This is often done without discussion or agreement, lack of decent it regarded as agreement.

This behaviour drives a culture where people are petrified of getting behind on email just in case someone has sent a BATS that they didn’t notice and now find themselves responsible for. This, in turn, leads to a culture where people find themselves attached to email 24 by 7.

Poor behaviour is driving poor culture which is driving poor behaviour. It’s about time we kicked the BATS habit because it isn’t doing any of us any good.

Perhaps it’s time to go without email completely – some people already have (almost)?

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