Cloud computing is a general term for the delivery of hosted services over the internet. Cloud computing enables companies to use file storage capability, or run business applications as a utility offering from service providers, instead of investing in in-house file and application servers.
Software as a service (SaaS) is a way of delivering centrally hosted applications over the internet. One of the early pioneers in SaaS was Salesforce With SaaS the vendor is responsible for the security, upgrading, and performance of the software application. Users can access SaaS applications via a web browser.
The benefits of cloud computing include flexibility, efficiency, and strategic purpose. In terms of flexibility users can scale services to suit their needs e.g. Office 365 for small business and enterprise customers. Cloud based software solutions can be accessed from anywhere where there is an internet connection.
Companies can use the platform as a service to get applications to market quicker. Developers can work and collaborate with virtual teams.
Cloud computing has a strategic purpose. Instead of investing considerable sums of capital in server technology and operating systems, cloud service providers manage underlying IT infrastructure. Business owners can concentrate on using data analytics to make more effective commercial decisions.
The major vendors in cloud computing are Amazon Web Services, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Rackspace. Many of these organisations provide offer clients a choice of cloud services from Infrastructure as a Service to Software as a Service.
Well known SaaS applications among business users include Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce.com, Box, Dropbox, Slack, GoToMeeting, Workday, Tableau, and Adobe Creative Cloud.
According to an article titled 6 trends shaping IT cloud strategies today CIO’s are taking advantage of colocation services from companies such as Digital Reality to leverage the best services on offer from public cloud services providers like AWS, Microsoft, or Google Cloud.
Continuous delivery is another development in cloud computing. Applications updating at the back end, can be continuously delivered to users even while they are using the application. The benefits of continuous delivery include more engaged users, and consistently high performance of cloud based applications.
Cloud computing is inexpensive for start-up or small businesses who can use entry level SaaS offerings from GSuite at $5 per user per month or Office 365 Business at $8.25 per month. Some SaaS vendors such as BulletHQ offer freemium software. As companies grow, adding users or requiring more complex IT solutions will result in an increase in cost. At this stage, it would be advisable to do a cost benefit analysis between the cost of cloud computing and installing a file server.
Platform as a service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to run, develop, and manage an application. The PaaS service provider is responsible for the provision of servers & storage, networking firewalls & security, operating systems, and development tools. Examples of PaaS include AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Google App Engine
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the internet. Customers can scale up or down, their infrastructure needs, and they only pay for the infrastructure they use. The service provider manages the infrastructure. The client organisation purchases and installs their own operating system, databases, development tools, and applications. An example of IaaS is AWS Elastic Compute Service (EC2).
Any business can avail of cloud computing services to a greater or lesser extent. The decision to do so, will often depend on whether a company is an early or late stage adapter of technology. Management attitude to risk is another factor. The sensitivity of your customer data will also be a deciding factor in adopting cloud technology. There are risks associated with cloud computing, but the key is to manage those risks effectively.