There is a new offering taking the business communications world by storm and it’s called cloud computing. Let’s try to make some sense of a few of the acronyms tossed about in that market space today. There are three services in particular that we will address.
First, know that the “a-a-s” portion of all the cloud acronyms is short for “as a service” which essentially means you are renting various blends of hardware and software, rather than buying and installing computing resources on your premises. Your IT management responsibilities will vary accordingly. The first letter(s) will always refer to the delivery component your business receives from the provider.
IaaS: I is for Infrastructure – think Network Architects
PaaS: P is for Platform – think Application Developers
SaaS: S is for Software – think End-Users
In this scenario you don’t have to buy and maintain any servers, hard drives or other hardware. The provider houses all the network equipment, giving you storage and fully scalable resources as needed. Yes, you’re renting a data Center that has all the power, broadband and hardware, BUT you put all the required platforms on your “virtual” machine. You manage the Applications, Data, O/S, middleware, etc. as well as govern and monitor usage. With IaaS there is still significant overhead on your end.
In addition to the infrastructure layer provided by IaaS, this service gives your application developers tools and hooks so they can develop mobile apps, websites, or database integration, for example. You run existing applications or build and test new ones on the platform they provide. You manage the applications and Data, but don’t have to provision and manage high level platform developers and website administrators.
You don’t provide or manage any hardware or software yourself. The provider determines how many resources such as servers, virtual machines and other network equipment as well as software your employees need for full business functionality. Your employees simply point a browser from their workstation to use an application-like Gmail or Salesforce.com, for instance.
You choose the service or a hybrid of services according to your monthly operating budget and provider specifications. Keep in mind these are very general descriptions and often times there is no “pure” package that will neatly meet your particular needs. The lines can and probably will get blurry. But the definitions above will hopefully give you a baseline understanding.