What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a simple way through which certain software or hardware application services such as servers, storage, or databases can be accessed remotely by use of the Internet.
These hosted services are delivered over the internet via the use of specialized applications which do not require the set up or purchase of hardware or software to run them.
Cloud computing can be used as an effective tool for businesses that want to improve their IT functionality or capacity without having to add software, extra staff, or invest in additional training or set up new infrastructure.
There are four types of services which derive from cloud computing technology.
These layers facilitate the one preceding it and they can be stacked on top of each other. The first layer is the infrastructure as a service (IaaS), the second one is the platform as a service (PaaS), the third one is software as a service (SaaS), and the last one is recovery as a service (RaaS).
1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is the base level of cloud solutions which represents the complete outsourced service of computing infrastructure. By using a virtualized interface, an IaaS offers hardware or software that is already pre-installed and configured. Customers are able to access and use the cloud services however they want according to their needs.
An example of an IaaS provider is a web hosting company. Some of the most known IaaS service providers include Google, IBM, Rackspace Cloud Servers, Amazon EC2, and Verizon.
IaaS Solutions have the following advantages:
- Reduces cost by not having to own the hardware or software
- No time spent on configuration or installation
- Payments for the service can be made on the go
- Allows for easy scaling depending on the customer’s current needs
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS has some similarities with IaaS but has advanced features. In addition to offering the infrastructure, a computing platform and solution stack are embedded in the service. A graphic user interface is incorporated into infrastructure, as well as operating system, run-time system libraries, or programming languages.
PaaS services employed by firms require a medium in which they can develop, test, collaborate and deploy their applications. This platform is hosted by the PaaS provider.
PaaS provides a sandbox and deployment environment which is pre-configured and allows users to develop, test and deploy their apps. Examples of known PaaS providers include Salesforce.com’s Force.com, Rackspace Cloud Sites, Microsoft Azure, and Google App Engine.
PaaS Solutions come with the following benefits:
- No additional upgrades required– the PaaS provider takes care of all upgrades, patches, and routine software maintenance.
- Lower cost – no upfront investment in hardware and software is required.
- Streamlined deployment –the testing and deployment infrastructure is entirely managed by the service provider.
3. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) providers are probably the most known out of stacks. SaaS offers web-based applications at the demand of their customers. The applications are mostly designed for corporate use and can include web conferencing, ERP, CRM, email, time management, project tracking, and other specific features.
SaaS solutions can be paid via subscription, pay-for-use or they are sometimes free. Examples of SaaS solutions include Citrix, WebEx, NetSuite, WordPress, Microsoft, Adobe Creative Cloud and companies that use it include American Red Cross, Jet.com, Netflix.
The advantages of SaaS Solutions are:
- Rapid Scalability
- Accessibility from any location with Internet
- Eliminates infrastructure concerns
- Custom levels of service offerings
- Bundled maintenance and Support
4. Recovery as a Service (RaaS)
Recovery as a Service (RaaS) is a category of cloud computing service which offers back up and protection for an application or data from issues, errors or disruptions at one location by employing the complete recovery of a cloud. RaaS is different from cloud-based backup services as it facilitates faster recovery of affected applications.
RaaS providers help corporate users to recover entire data centers, servers (OS, applications, configuration, and data), as well as data (files, archives, and databases) by keeping everything on an integrated platform.
RaaS helps with the reductions downtime impact when disasters strikes a company. Because of this, the service is also known sometimes as DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service).
Example of companies which employ RaaS services are Geminare, WindStream Business and nScaled.
RaaS Solutions feature the following benefits:
- Prevents the loss of critical company data
- Its less costly and more effective method of recovering data
- The data can be recovered in a fast and accurate manner
- The type of backup required (either primary or secondary backup) ensures greater flexibility
Corporate users have a great deal to benefit from using cloud services as it enhances efficiency and reduces costs for them. Based on their needs and priorities, companies can employ the cloud services which will cater to their needs on demand.