Today’s businesses are increasingly relying on the cloud. Be it to just host their burgeoning data or to drive their end-to-end business operations, the cloud is indispensable. In this post, we look at four major cloud computing models in use by businesses today.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is the most basic or fundamental cloud computing model.
Businesses relying on IaaS are outsourcing their data storage infrastructure requirements to an external provider. This provider could be a public cloud host, such as Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), or Google (GCP). It could also be a smaller vendor with a private data center solution
“In any scenario, the IaaS vendor will deliver the bare metal, servers, virtual machines, as well as day-to-day maintenance and security needs of a data center to the customer.” – True North ITG
In other words, the customer doesn’t have to worry about any capital expenditure (CAPEX). Instead, the client pays a flat-rate fee for the capacity it needs; if the capacity decreases, so does the fee.
With IaaS, you’re just talking about the cloud hosting infrastructure. What the customer hosts on that infrastructure isn’t a concern for the provider. So you could have IaaS users limit their use to just backing up data, and others who could host their own platforms and software.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Like IaaS, PaaS includes a cloud infrastructure offering for hosting the client’s data. However, it builds upon that by also offering a development platform/framework/stack on top of bare metal.
With PaaS, the client can develop, test, and deploy applications in the provider’s environment, and by using the managed cloud service provider’s tools or technologies.
The benefit of PaaS is that you can develop applications in an environment that ‘just works’ — i.e., you know the technologies and cloud platform available to you are compatible.
You wouldn’t need to worry about making your software compatible with the hosting hardware, which is the case with IaaS. However, like IaaS, the vendor will manage the maintenance and security of the cloud hosting infrastructure.
In addition, the vendor will also continue improving its technology stack. You don’t have to worry about falling behind in terms of technologies, your vendor will handle it, equipping you to use the advances to your benefit without worrying about development costs.
Finally, if you’re working with a leading PaaS provider, then there are usually other businesses and developers on that platform too. In other words, you’ll have a community at your disposal in case your developers need support on using the provider’s technology stack.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
With SaaS, you’re essentially relying on an external vendor to provide the cloud infrastructure, the underlying technology stack, and the user-facing application.
In other words, you’re using an entirely off-the-shelf and externally hosted application.
Common SaaS solutions include email, customer relationship management (CRM) suites, VoIP and/or messaging (e.g., Zoom, Slack, GoToMeeting, etc), and many others.
The benefit of SaaS is that there’s zero lead-time in acquiring a solution. If your business needs a solution, then you can get it right away without worrying about hosting or developing it.
If there’s a drawback to SaaS, it’s generally the fact that the feature selection and release cycle are in the hands of the vendor. For SaaS to work, you must ensure there’s alignment in terms of the service’s features/capabilities and your needs. If not, you’re going to have trouble.
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
Finally, you can also rely on the cloud for disaster recovery.
This is the task of backing up and, if the need arises (e.g., a cyber security breach), restoring your data. DRaaS should also involve a strong turnover element; if a data center in one area
or region goes down, the vendor should have your data back-up in another data center.
You can also work with third-party firms, such as PCM Canada, to configure and manage your DRaaS system, even if it’s stored in a public cloud host like Azure. For example, managed IT services include a complete DRaaS and business contuinity service.
In conclusion, cloud computing is not only essential for today’s business operations, but businesses have multiple options for using the cloud. Where IaaS can favour a company with significant developer resources (to create custom frameworks and applications), SaaS enables smaller players to acquire advanced IT capabilities without having to develop, host or manage it.