Cloud-based computing growth continues to expand as businesses reduce costs and improve efficiency with their IT infrastructure. With the benefits of scalability, flexibility, and enhanced security and performance, cloud technology continues to provide businesses with the most effective and powerful computing solutions. The International Data Group reports (idg.com/tools-for-marketers/2020-cloud-computing-study/) that 81% of organizations surveyed use at least a portion of their infrastructure in the cloud in 2020, which is an 8% increase from 2018.
Cloud computing is not a one size fits all solution. There are three main cloud choices from which companies can select that best suit their operational needs.
1. Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS)
In an IAAS cloud model, a business of any size accesses all infrastructure from the cloud. The provider rents the hardware and software resources to the business, freeing up the requirement of on-premises equipment. The cost of servers, storage, and software and manpower resources necessary to oversee them are eliminated.
Some typical functions a business will do within IAAS are testing and development, website hosting, storage, backup and recovery, and higher performance computing functions.
There are several advantages to using IAAS:
Eliminates Data Center Costs
With IAAS, upfront expenses for the installation and maintenance of a physical data center are eliminated. This greatly reduces overall capital expenditures.
In the event of a catastrophic disaster, continuity of the business is not affected since applications and data remain accessible from any remote location. Cloud providers use state-of-the-art, highly secure data centers with back-up power, cooling, and connectivity resources, ensuring little to no downtime.
System expansion normally taking days or weeks only a few hours and, in some cases, minutes to accomplish. This feature is useful for any type of expected heavy traffic event to a company’s website. Automatic resource provisioning ensures that the boost in traffic is handled efficiently.
Cloud service providers provide airtight, modern security measures for applications and data that would otherwise be too costly for businesses to do onsite. This can include end-to-end encryption for confidential data.
Maintenance and Upgrade Efficiency
What would otherwise be time-consuming, expensive, and tedious software and hardware upgrades are a thing of the past. Cloud service providers provide this service efficiently without excessive downtime.
2. Software As A Service (SAAS)
While IAAS includes hardware as part of the IT support managed services agreement, SAAS is strictly software delivery via an internet connection and web browser. Software vendors host and maintain the databases and code, freeing up the organization from hosting and maintaining it onsite. This model is less costly than the IAAS models, making it a more obtainable solution for smaller businesses for accessing powerful applications.
The benefits of utilizing the SAAS cloud-based model are as follows:
Inexpensive Up Front Costs
Since SAAS is mostly subscription-based, there are no licensing fees, significantly reducing implementation costs. The SAAS provider administers and runs the software, eliminating hardware and software maintenance costs.
Faster Deployment, Configuration, and Updates
With the applications installed in the cloud, the deployment and configuration process is more efficient. Any new releases of the software are also handled by the provider, eliminating what is often a time-consuming task for the business.
SAAS only requires a device with a web browser and internet connection, giving this service greater global accessibility.
As the business grows, the cloud provider can quickly add more users to the subscription base.
3. Platform As A Service (PAAS)
In this cloud model, the IT support managed services provider supplies the development tools, operating systems, and databases. This service allows faster building of applications since developers do not have to be concerned with configuring their own platforms and backend. Developers can go right into coding and testing their applications while the vendor takes care of the rest.
Advantages to PAAS are as follows:
Accessible From Anywhere
Developers can code and test their programs from remote locations through the use of a web application.
PAAS is a more cost-efficient solution than IAAS as there is reduced overhead. Some providers even offer a pay-as-you-go price to charge only for the resources utilized.
PAAS providers oversee the operating system and development tool software licensing.
Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds
In addition to the above cloud computing service types, businesses also choose between a public, private, or hybrid configured cloud.
In a public cloud deployment, the provider has all resources open to public sharing via the internet. Examples of common public clouds include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Dropbox. Free and subscription-based services are provided depending on the level of storage required. The most commonly used public clouds are easily accessed through self-service websites often charged by the gigabyte for storage.
In a private cloud model, resources are available solely for the organization and are not publicly shared with others. Usually, more sensitive data is stored in a private cloud to comply with industry and legal requirements such as those in the medical, financial, and legal sectors.
The hybrid cloud combines the use of both private and public clouds. Companies that use the hybrid cloud can freely migrate applications and workloads between the two types as needed. Although both cloud types are still separate and distinct entities, they can work together seamlessly to meet the company’s computing objectives.
The hybrid model has proved to be very popular with many organizations. According to Gartner, (gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2017-04-05-gartner-says-a-massive-shift-to-hybrid-infrastructure-services-is-underway) 90 percent of organizations will have adopted this cloud structure.
With the many choices available in cloud-based computing, it is essential that businesses take a close look at their computing requirements before deciding which is most suitable. Regardless of which model is selected, a well-planned migration strategy is a necessity. The selection of an IT support managed services provider with expertise in cloud-computing is crucial to a successful deployment.