3 cloud computing models explained

Cloud-related terminology gets tossed around a lot by marketers these days. In this guest post, Gil Allouche gives some simple definitions to help IT managers and business leaders. 

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With terms likes IaaS and SaaS thrown around, it can be difficult to get a grasp of what the different models are let, alone how to apply them to your business. To make better sense of what the cloud is about, here is an explanation of the three cloud computing models and what they can do for your organization.

Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, offers a raw computing, storage and network infrastructure that allows companies to outsource the equipment used to support technological operations. IaaS service providers are then responsible for housing, running and maintaining the system.

Clients will typically pay for this type of service on a per-use basis. In order to use applications on IaaS, cloud users have to install their own operating-system images and application structure on the cloud infrastructure.

Platform as a Service

PaaS offers a way to rent hardware and storage as well as operating systems over the Internet. Clients will typically use PaaS to run existing applications or to develop or test new ones. The advantage of PaaS is that operating system features can be changed and upgraded frequently, and it’s especially useful for teams who are spread out geographically and need to work on software development projects together.

Software as a Service

As indicated by the name, SaaS offers users access to application software and databases. The cloud provider installs and operates application software in the cloud, and users generally pay a subscription to have access to the software. This eliminates the need to install and run applications on a company’s local computers, which frees up IT from a lot of maintenance work and allows them to focus on problem solving.

SaaS is also beneficial in that it offers increased scalability because tasks can be cloned onto multiple virtual machines to meet increased work demand. In addition, with all applications hosted on the cloud, updates can be released without users having to install new software to accommodate the update.

Common cloud computing myths

With the three main models defined, it’s important to recognize that there are a lot of myths about cloud computing. These are some of them:

  • Cloud Computing is only used for outsourcing IT functions. In fact, cloud computing is commonly used for on-demand projects that will require more infrastructure than an internal server can handle.
  • Cloud computing exposes your data to outsiders. Many organizations with particularly sensitive data develop internal clouds rather than employing an external cloud provider. Others will only keep certain data in the cloud and then protect their sensitive data in their internal network.
  • All cloud services offer the same benefits. Some business owners make the mistake of believing every cloud service will offer scalability, resiliency and a pay-per-use plan. While there are common characteristics among cloud services, what they offer will vary based off the type of model you get.

Looking Forward

Looking forward, cloud services will continue to develop. Developers, for example are already working on creating big data as a service that would allow small businesses to have access to big data just like Facebook and Amazon.

In order to become mainstream, cloud providers will need to work on providing security and stability for IT managers. When selecting a cloud provider, IT managers should be sure that the provider can provide data isolation and application security and that it has a robust encryption management system as the data is moved from the user to the cloud application.

About the author: Gil Allouche is the Vice President of Marketing at Qubole. Gil began his marketing career as a product strategist at SAP while earning his MBA at Babson College and is a former software engineer.