Blog Post

The web isn’t one-size-fits-all anymore, so the as-a-service world just keeps on growing

Hiring a bunch of people with varied talents to develop a web service in a silo seems to be less and less common. The emerging approach is to make small teams and rely on other companies with skills in little niches. More of these little-niche providers are popping up, with APIs and as-a-service business models.

For example, if you’re looking to resize images, from logos to photos, and not eat up lots of compute cycles, it might be best to go to a service like imgix, rather than try to build and scale your own system. The company has this area down pat, after co-founder Chris Zacharias struggled to shrink certain images on a lightweight version of YouTube he was working on at Google, (s goog) according to a Thursday article from Wired.

Rather than build out a ton of services for one industry, Zacharias envisions imgix stepping forward as the go-to guy for web services of all types.

The aim, says Zacharias, is to build a graphics engine for the internet as a whole — a service that can handle all sorts of image processing for virtually any website. This would include videos and games as well as still images. “Much like Dropbox is building a massive hard drive for the internet,” he says, “we’re building a graphics card for the internet.”

This drive to deliver a strong horizontal service is more and more popular, and it’s common to several of our 2013 Cloud Trailblazers, who will make appearances at GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco in three weeks. Need a back end to support real-time interaction? Check with the guys at Firebase. Need to monitor servers? Server Density can do that.

Beyond this year’s trailblazers, machine-learning startup talks about Machine Learning as a Service (MLaaS), 3scale can manage your APIs as a service, and if you want to run application delivery controllers, Riverbed has them — yes, as a service.

This model is emerging because the internet is no longer one size fits all; different companies want to do vastly different things, at different times, at different scales, and they don’t necessarily want to have to run these things on site, or pay for it every few years. Hence the explosion of the Insert-Service-Here-as-a-Service (ISHaaS).

Developers starting to build a product today can go to the digital equivalent of something like a well-stocked buffet with cuisines from many countries. When they’re hungry, they can choose what they want to eat and how much. It’s a bit different from the school lunch, where there wasn’t a pre-determined amount of one of three available foods plopped onto a styrofoam tray. Developers’ tastes will keep evolving, and more foods are surely on the way. The tough part is getting just the food that developers want to eat.

Feature image courtesy of Flickr user avlxyz.