For argument’s sake let’s say you’ve heard about this ‘cloud’ thing and how everybody is using it.
They say there are lots of benefits to it but you, like most people, don’t quite get it. You’re probably questioning who ‘they’ really are and if you should get on board with this cloud thing – but ultimately don’t know how it could help your business or if it’s just another fad. That’s ok. I understand. No one likes getting caught up in a trend and then having that stomach dropping, sweaty palm realisation that you have made a horrendous mistake – yes, I’m talking about all that early 2000s fashion.
But what’s worse than your own personal fashion faux pas, is taking an expensive plunge that affects your business in a negative way. So how do you get around the fact that the cloud world can get quite complex?
Below I’ve broken down the cloud and how you can make the cloud work for your organisation.
To put it simply, ‘cloud’ is the term used to describe the running workloads on other people’s computers, commonly over the internet. This means you no longer have to own and maintain large amounts of physical infrastructure to support your business. As it stands today there are basically 3 different ways of getting into the cloud, each provides different benefits depending on your organisation.
IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service
This could be considered the foundation of a cloud service as it still provides some level of control to the user. IaaS is comprised of your typical infrastructure resources hosted somewhere externally. You still have a level of control over the resource as you would with traditional physical infrastructure.
A typical example of IaaS would be an organisation using the cloud to host their virtual machines, rather than hosting them on a hypervisor on physical servers in a datacentre. Users can still configure various components of the infrastructure as they would have in the past, however, the benefits of using IaaS are in flexibility and scalability. New environments can be deployed and scaled-out quickly without worrying about the hardware underneath.
PaaS – Platform as a Service
As the name suggests, this model is focused on providing the platform, rather than the infrastructure. This means that many of the management tasks associated with infrastructure such as hardware and operating system configuration and maintenance are no longer required as these are performed ‘behind the curtain’ within the cloud provider. PaaS services are typically used to support applications that may exist within an IaaS service or even on-premises. As with IaaS, PaaS services can be built and scaled out very quickly.
A common use of PaaS is for database services. Many of the major cloud providers offer a ‘database as a service’, which means much of the effort involved to maintain a database is removed. Tasks such as backups, data replication and patching are performed by the cloud provider, leaving you to focus on more important things.
SaaS – Software as a Service
Software as a service is a category of cloud that many people are already using today and is what most people would consider ‘cloud’. SaaS takes the PaaS model a step further by removing the need to manage the application. There is no longer any requirement for application related tasks such as installation, upgrades and patching. SaaS can be provisioned almost instantly and is usually access via a web browser.
SaaS uses can vary however the most common and recognisable use is for email systems. Products suites such a Microsoft’s Office 365 and Googles G Suite provide users with access to email in addition to other office applications. Users do not need to worry about installations and upgrades (although Office 365 does allow for installations) so they can start using it straight after sign up. CRM systems such as SalesForce, are another application that has made the jump to SaaS – you no longer need to manage a web server and database to access your customer data.
Once you have assessed how the cloud can work for your business, assessing how you implement it is the next big step, this is best achieved with a team of experts, and I would shamelessly suggest this expert right here can help with that!