Businesses big and small, regardless of industry, are flocking to the cloud. Spending on cloud computing is accelerating faster than experts previously predicted. According to the Cloud Security Alliance roughly 90 percent of companies devote at least some of their IT budgets to cloud services, while more than a third of companies are eager to adopt as many cloud services as available.
So, how does a business get into cloud computing? As with anything, the first step is understanding the various types of cloud services to determine which is best for you.
A Simple Introduction
The cloud has been revolutionary for business because it allows easy, fast, and broad access to a bevy of in-demand resources, like networks, servers, and applications. Often, cloud computing is called a stack, because it allows users to configure different services on top of each to suit their needs. The three types of cloud computing form the mainframe of this stack, and they are software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Essentially, the bottom of the stack, IaaS, exists to support the middle and top layers of the stack, PaaS and SaaS respectively.
In recent years, the lines between the layers of the stack have blurred, and many experts predict even more interrelation as cloud computing develops, but for now, a basic overview of the different types should help you understand what your business needs from the cloud.
In its simplest terms, SaaS is software that is implemented over the internet. You might imagine SaaS as people and goods traveling in trucks on a highway. Usually, users will pay providers a recurring subscription fee to access a particular software, which may be downloaded onto personal devices but requires registration and web access to use.
Increasingly, SaaS providers are giving their software away for free, but they are recouping costs through other more lucrative revenue streams, like advertisements. Still, to qualify as SaaS, software must be managed from a central location in a “one to many” model, and users should never worry about updating or patching the services they use.
There are a few characteristics that indicate a particular computing solution would be good on the cloud. For the most part, SaaS is best for programs that are fundamental to business and demand a significant back-and-forth with the outside world, like email or invoicing. Additionally, software required for a short duration ― like tax software during tax season ― is most effective as SaaS. Conversely, SaaS is not preferable when you need fast computing or assured privacy, as off-site servers don’t provide impeccable speed or security. Still, for most businesses, using SaaS is well worth it.
If SaaS is people, PaaS is best described as the vehicles that take those people different places. Essentially, PaaS allows the creation and maintenance of web-based applications without the hassle of purchasing individual SaaS solutions. For the most part, a business only requires PaaS if it plans to have multiple developers working to construct a single application, but for this, the service is undeniably crucial. Experts expect all software development to take place on PaaS in coming years, which means businesses and developers must become familiar with this cloud computing solution.
PaaS include various tools that help you develop, test, deploy, host, and sustain programs, applications, and software. One of the best examples of this is Microsoft Azure. If you have little experience with cloud computing in general (or PaaS in particular) you might prefer the intuitive interface of this PaaS, and consider training yourself or a dedicated employee on getting started with Azure.
Finally, the people in their cars cannot get anywhere without a road, and in cloud computing, IaaS includes highways, surface streets, and any other paved place where PaaS and SaaS can roam. In computing, infrastructure includes resources such as servers, networks, storage, and operating systems, so IaaS is the offering of these resources as an on-demand service.
Unlike SaaS and PaaS, IaaS can be both public and private ― which is to say it can occur on shared or personal servers. The purpose of this is to provide businesses in need of enhanced security with the same benefits (scalability, accessibility, etc.) as typical cloud services. Amazon Web Services is by far the largest IaaS provider, but the field is developing rapidly, and you should see dozens more IaaS players in coming years.