Cloud computing is an emerging technology in the Internet's evolution; it is a growing trend, nowadays, in the IT and business world as it delivers a host of benefits via the Web from one central location. Cloud-based services, in fact, can meet most business demands for scalability, flexibility and productivity.
Cloud Adoption: Why make the move?
The main reason for cloud computing transition is cost savings. Many companies are getting onboard as the cloud architecture allows them to have access to technology-enabled services without having to upgrade their hardware and software, maintaining and updating a complex IT infrastructure and without needing a full IT team onboard. The migration to the Cloud Architecture can be eased by pre-existing IT resources (applications or programs) online that are accessible through the Internet; services can be provided by external companies.
Deployment Models: Which one to choose?
There are choices to make when it comes to adopting a cloud solution. The deployment of different models depends on the needs of each company. Enterprises can opt to have a private cloud and use a virtualized data center inside their firewall and still retain control over sensitive data and its own infrastructure, security and governance. Otherwise, for companies that can outsource their data management, there is a public cloud solution which offers a virtualized data center outside the firewall. This option involves going off-site to an external provider that renders services over the network. If chosen, an enterprise will not have ownership of the equipment as it is hosted in the cloud environment.
Needs that cannot be met by a private or public cloud alone, can be satisfied by the adoption of hybrid cloud architectures, which combine public and private cloud services and can offer the benefits of both deployment models.
Cloud Service Models: What is the right solution?
The three most basic cloud-service models are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Each model defines the type of service the cloud provides to users, by either a monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go basis, where companies pay for what they actually use.
1. IaaS: A cloud provider of IaaS offers virtual machines and servers, as well as use of other network resources, such as firewalls and load balancers, and even storage. Application software is hosted by the provider on the cloud infrastructure. It's a solution for those in need of computing memory, storage and/or bandwidth. It benefits users that opt for a public cloud and want to share resources.
With IaaS, it is the provider not the user that is responsible for maintaining, executing the delivery of hardware and network resources. The user, instead, manages and controls the cloud service components it needs. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a popular public cloud IaaS provider.
2. PaaS: In this model, the cloud provider delivers the computer platform, Web server, and database so the user does not have to buy and manage them. This is ideal for those that want to develop and run their software solutions on a cloud platform and make it available to platform's users. It is a good solution for App and Web developers.
With PaaS, the user has access to a programming or runtime environment where it is possible to use development tools and run cloud service applications on a cloud platform. An example of this type of service is Windows Azure, a cloud application platform by Microsoft.
3. SaaS: This provides "on-demand software" by the cloud provider. Apps/programs are controlled and executed on the provider's infrastructure. This offers a solution that eliminates the need to install and run one's own software on-site. It is ideal for those that don't want the burden of being responsible of maintenance and upgrades. SaaS is a suitable choice for those in need of a solution for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or simplify networking and sharing information.
With SaaS, cloud-based application software is provided as a service. The cloud provider maintains the app programs. An example of this type of service is Office 365. Also Salesforce.com offers a SaaS cloud-based approach.
Cloud computing can bring many benefits, as mentioned, to businesses who need high end technology but can't invest heavily in their IT infrastructure. Adopting cloud services offers a cost-reduction strategy, enables greater agility and provides value-added components. There are some deterrents (privacy and security issues, for example) that are holding back the widespread adoption of cloud computing and cloud computing-based services, private or public, as well as hybrid.
By understanding cloud computing, the types of services (each of the three levels) and models available, businesses can develop a cloud strategy that suits them best and meets their needs and demands.