What You Need To Know About Cloud Computing

What is cloud computing?

Where does data go when it is “in the cloud?”  How does it work? Cloud computing delivers computing services like running applications, storage, processing, etc. over the internet, typically at a monthly fee.  You can use the cloud essentially as a separate system where you save files and important information.  You used to only be able to access your data on your computer that was connected to a server.  With the cloud, the same rules apply, but in a new way.  When you work with the cloud, a third party hosts your software on a remote server where your data is processed.  These servers are held in data centers located all over the world.  Some examples? Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all have cloud avenues that host and maintain servers.

What is Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is often referred to as the “Consumer” of cloud computing models.  SaaS gives you a built-in user interface, holds onto your data, and is accessible anywhere at anytime.  It has made up about two-thirds of cloud spending this year, alone.  It is the most popular model of cloud-computing because it consists of system infrastructure and applications.  This model allows you access to the computing service through a web browser or app, so its usability makes it that much more appealing to end users.  SaaS options that are accessible for most end users are Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox.

What is Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS?

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) acts as another layer of storage, networking, and virtual servers.  Developers need certain tools and software that PaaS includes, but developers aren’t the only ones getting use out of it.  PaaS is where a third-party provider delivers the hardware and software needed for application development.  The entire platform is provided for the user while the third-party provider hosts.  This model is geared toward software developers for its availability of tools and services.  PaaS delivers more of the application stack than IaaS.

What is Infrastructure-as-a-Service?

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is popular among software developers looking to have full control.  IaaS allows a user to monitor the process, but requires technical skill and knowledge.  In an Oracle survey, 60% of IaaS users responded with the belief that online infrastructure makes it easier to innovate and reduced time deploying new applications and services.  IaaS users of different experience levels ranging from established users to beginners, participated in the survey.  This model is where a third-party provider hosts servers, storage, and virtualized computing resources.  In a IaaS model, you have control over the networking infrastructure unlike a SaaS.

How does the cloud benefit IT?

For a company’s IT department, cloud services save a lot of money and hassle for employees.  With cloud services, companies don’t have to spend the money on their own infrastructure, but they can pay for what they use.  Estimates suggest that a third of enterprise IT spending will be on cloud services.  This saves IT professionals on purchasing servers, maintaining them, updating applications and operating systems, and companies only pay for what they use.

Wow – sounds like an amazing system, right?  Not so fast.  Any new way of managing IT and development involves some level of risk.  Cloud services can sometimes muddy the waters for security; if workers don’t know exactly where data is, there is potential for compliance violation.  Because data centers are located around the world, data is often copied in multiple data centers so that in the case of a natural disaster, fire, etc. at one physical data center, customer data is still available at another location.  Insider threats have an easier time stealing data using the cloud and there is always the potential for a data breach.  Just like with everything else, when deciding if you want to pursue a cloud computing method you should always take into account the risks.

Still don’t really understand SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS?  No worries!

We made this infographic to give you a more visual representation.  Now you’ll get hungry every time you see a server!

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