The decision to “move to the cloud” is not as simple as it used to be. Now enterprises large and small have another decision to make: what kind of cloud computing service model do we need?
Today, the cloud offers three basic levels of service designed to address a variety of IT needs:
Software as a Service (SaaS) which enables users to move their business applications and processes to the cloud, replacing on-premise applications and the infrastructure needed to run them with a simpler subscription service. Everyday IT functions such as customer relationship management (CRM), worker collaboration, email, and accounting are delivered via Internet browser to desktops and mobile devices at an agreed-upon service level. All the cost and the headaches of maintaining and upgrading applications and the infrastructure to deliver them move to the host service provider.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which essentially virtualizes the premise infrastructure in the cloud, providing the user with a flexible, virtual operating environment with which to manage and maintain their own IT operations. IaaS can include virtualized servers and data centers that can be quickly scaled up or down to meet fluctuating demand. The user is responsible for the operating system and applications running over the virtualized infrastructure while the cloud service provider guarantees the availability and reliability of the virtual IT environment.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) takes cloud service to the next level, providing the virtual environment in which users can develop, run, and manage their own applications. PaaS provides such things as application run times, storage, and integration to improve IT efficiency and agility. Here, too, the user takes responsibility for all things software-related while the cloud service provider ensures platform capability and optimization.
PaaS is primarily the choice for organizations with the IT technical firepower to develop, manage, and maintain their own proprietary software, but who don’t want to be bothered with the platform needed to make it all happen. In this blog post, we’ll focus on the two more popular cloud service choices for most SMBs and average large enterprises – SaaS and IaaS.
Which is right for you – SaaS or IaaS?
Regardless of which cloud service you choose, the benefits of cloud computing are clear:
It’s cost-effective – No more need to shoulder the expense of purchasing, managing, and maintaining hardware and software on-premise. In the cloud, you pay for only what you use, when you use it. You can scale up or down to meet market trends and demands.
It’s available right now – Cloud solutions are up and running 24/7. Just pay and play – no need to purchase, install, and configure software or hardware.
It’s optimized for performance – To successfully compete, cloud service providers must provide the latest app versions and optimized computing environments with low latency and high reliability.
It’s secure – Cloud vendors know how important it is for customers to know their data is safe and secure, so they utilize the latest, most robust security measures, backed by rock-solid redundant systems to minimize risk and ensure business continuity.
For fast deployment and the lowest cost, SaaS is hard to beat. You decide what capabilities you want in the cloud, the software you need to implement them, and the level of service. Just sign up and pay and get right to work. Unlike an on-premise IT ecosystem, there’s no installation, no extensive training, and no maintenance chores.
IaaS, on the other hand, is a little more involved. Think of it as selecting a set of tools you’ll need to construct the IT system you want. IaaS is ideal for creating virtual data centers that provide an effective, scalable, and secure server environment where you can store, manipulate, and analysis large amounts of data cost-efficiently and with a high degree of flexibility. This may take a little longer and require a little more work to implement, but the pay-off can be huge.
Like SaaS, there are no hardware expenses and no on-premise IT infrastructure with IaaS. You create everything you need to compute virtually, in the cloud. It’s also highly secure – your cloud service provider is responsible for ensuring the security of your data, keeping it safely tucked away in a fully-protected data center.
So which cloud service model is right for you?
That depends on your organization’s short- and long-term requirements. What do you need right now to be competitive, flexible, and profitable? What do you anticipate your IT needs will be five years, ten years from now, based on your goals and growth? Is a suite of standard, off-the-shelf applications perfectly fine for the kind of computing you need to do? Then SaaS is an ideal choice.
Does your industry or application call for something more proprietary? Are your computing and data management requirements substantial enough to warrant building a more sophisticated, customized IT environment? Then IaaS fits the bill. It enables you to custom-tailor a virtual IT infrastructure that’s fast, flexible, and ultra-scalable. It will cost a little more and take more time to deploy, but it can provide significant benefits over your own static, premise-based infrastructure that are well worth it.
Considering moving your IT resources to the cloud? Reach out to Boston Data Group for a discussion. Our experts will help you plot a successful path.
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