Cloud Computing means you rent, rather than buy, IT infrastructure such as hardware & software. There is a monthly charge for the services that you use as opposed to being charged for the entire infrastructure suite upfront.
One important difference is that there are redundancies built into a purpose built Cloud Platform that you may not have, or can’t afford to have, in your physical platform, such as power, network and storage backup.
Cloud Computing services can be divided into three categories or layers: Software as a Service, Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service. These layers work on top of each other. From the top down:
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service is the type of cloud computing people interact with most on a daily basis. Examples are Gmail, Hotmail, Salesforce or our own SmarterMail. They are all online applications. You do not need to install anything and you don’t have to update anything. You simply sign up and start using it.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service is designed for software developers. It makes it easier for software developers to deploy their Software as a Service application. After writing their software, developers need to deploy their application on a server so people can actually use it. Platform as a Service simplifies and streamlines the process of deploying applications for public access, by providing all the required development frameworks (PHP, Python, Grails, Java) and middleware (MySQL, MongoDB). This reduces the amount of technical know-how needed to deploy application, thus significantly simplifying the process to get an application up and running.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service is a server you rent, but with a twist. Of course all software needs to run on a server somewhere. Cloud providers like us pool together all their compute resources (Memory, Processors and storage) and then allocate it to the server sizes people need.
For the users of Infrastructure as a Service this provides a few major benefits. Firstly a cloud user only rents and doesn’t buy anything, meaning that there is only a monthly cost (OpEx) and no high upfront cost (CapEx). Secondly, you can easily change the capacity you rent. If your business is successful and you need twice as much server capacity, it literally takes less than 2 minutes to set this up. Compare this to the traditional lengthy procurement and configuration processes. Similarly, if the uptake isn’t as high as anticipated, cloud users can easily adjust downwards and reduce their monthly bill. Thirdly you can leverage the built in redundancy of our purpose built cloud platform. Hosted in tier III datacentres, which come with fully redundant power, physical and logical security and much more.
Cloud Computing: One concept, three implementations
Overall, cloud computing provides flexibility and ease of use. Regardless of the layer, it reduces the time you would traditionally spend on setting it up and maintaining it. Often even eliminating the involvement of the IT department and thus vastly decreasing the time to market for new products and solutions.