When considering a cloud computing option, there are three different options to choose from. You can go with either Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). To be successful in cloud computing you must identify the needs of your business and then match these to the right level or layer of the three cloud computing options.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – IaaS is the lowest level layer and deals with servers, virtual machine, storage or operating systems.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – PaaS deals with creating a framework for developers to create runtime environments, without focussing on the hardware used to do so. For example, mySql or Java.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – SaaS is the highest level focusing on the application. SaaS is about giving all clients access to functions from a web server such as Gmail, Microsoft Office 365 or Goggle Apps.
Effectively, IaaS, being the lowest level, still requires PaaS and SaaS layers over the top, to be functional. Therefore, IaaS will be the most expensive of the three. Cost reduces the higher up the Cloud Stack you go, ie. PaaS is cheaper than IaaS and SaaS is Cheaper than PaaS. With very little technical expertise needed to administer a SaaS solution, it can be the cheapest to run.
Additional costs come from requiring extra technical expertise, maintenance and the correct development in each layer. Ensuring that each layer will be able to communicate correctly with the others also comes into play.
Suitability for different businesses
Regardless of the size, most businesses will benefit from implementing one of the Cloud Service choices. Identifying the right service choice is dependent on the requirements of the business.
SaaS is great for implementing a range of in house software which can be tied to the number of users. This can be seen in a large company where hardware is already in place, but new software is needed. Simultaneously a SaaS solution is suitable for a sole trader who wants to sync between multiple devices. SaaS is great for a BYOD (bring your own device) arrangement.
PaaS is growing surprising quickly within the developer community. Being able to just get going on day one is a huge benefit. However, as it includes more technical aspects, businesses who lack an expert in this area should decide if there is a suitable alternative, or plan for possible drawbacks.
Using IaaS is the most advanced and gives the most benefits. While the time and cost required to build all three steps is greater, the efficiency gained can be substantial. Although this may be left to larger businesses, a smaller team who understands all the requirements could also set up a professional environment allowing faster production with lower costs.
Privacy and Control of Data and Information
Common sense would suggest that IaaS is the most secure. However, this may not always be true. At this level you will control how the data is stored and moved within your business. Unfortunately a small to medium sized business has limited access to security experts – this can lead to security oversight or failure. To compensate, it may be appropriate to engage a security consultant. An outsourced provider who is dedicated to the security of your platform, may suggest a PaaS solution is best, rather than a full IaaS solution.
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