A Cloud Service can refer to any resource provided over the internet. There are different types of Cloud, but each service is hosted by a vendor or source provider and available online.
You will often hear people refer to ‘the cloud’, but the reality is that there is no physical structure that you can point to as the cloud. The cloud is an electronic structure in which data is stored over many different computers and served up through the Internet. In cloud hosting, these server farms function like one single storage space and processor. Website data such as HTML/CSS files and images is distributed over a cluster of hard drives connected together like one big virtual disk with unlimited capacity. Cloud services are easily scalable; the set-up allows for an unlimited number of machines to operate through it, but you could just as easily build a cloud service with five to ten computers.
The SPI Model
SPI is an acronym for the three most common cloud service models: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
SaaS is probably the best known form of Cloud computing. Its purpose is to reassign the task of managing software and its deployment to third-party services. The software applications are hosted in the Cloud for individuals and businesses. Most SaaS applications can be run directly from a web browser without having to download or install anything, though some require plugins. The most widely used online services such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are all examples of Software as a Service, as anyone can access these applications as long as they have an internet connection. Business users can utilise applications for various processes, including accounting, invoicing, tracking of sales, monitoring performances, communication such as through IM, and planning.
Cloud platform services function at a lower level than SaaS, and provide an environment in which you can develop and deploy applications. PaaS providers offer infrastructure in which the operating system, network infrastructure and server software and hardware are tended to, allowing them to focus on the development of applications, including networking, storage, software support and management services. Like most cloud services, PaaS is based on virtualisation technology. Businesses can request resources as needed and easily scale their system, which cannot be achieved with hardware. Such a service suits businesses that PaaS can be delivered either via a hybrid model that uses both public IaaS and on-premise infrastructure or as an entirely private PaaS that is only deployed on-premise. Examples include Google App Engine, Apprenda and Salesforce.com.
IaaS is the lowest tier in the SPI model, and can be thought of as the essential building blocks of Cloud Services. It is essentially virtualised hardware, such as virtual server space, network connections, bandwidth and IP addresses. IaaS users have direct access to their servers and storage with much higher capabilities for scaling. It’s possible to outsource and build a ‘virtual data centre’ in the cloud and gain access to many of the same technologies and resource capabilities that a physical data centre has, without its drawbacks such as capacity planning and physical maintenance and management. Physically, the pool of hardware resources is pulled from a multitude of servers and networks distributed across various data centres. All of these fall under the responsibility of the cloud provider for maintaining and servicing. The client has access to the virtualised components so that they can build their own IT platforms. IaaS resources are often provided through a dashboard and/or application programming interface (API). IaaS is the most flexible cloud service, and accommodates the automated deployment of servers, processing power, storage and networking. Examples include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Cisco Metapod.
What are the Benefits of Cloud Services?
Cloud computing lets users access files using web-enabled devices such as smartphones and laptops. The ability to simultaneously share documents and other files over the internet can facilitate collaboration between employees. Cloud Services are very easily scalable as well, so your IT requirements can be expanded or reduced depending on your business’s requirements.
Work from Anywhere
As long as you have an internet connection, users of a cloud system can work from any location. Most major Cloud Services offer mobile applications, so there is no restriction as to what kind of device you’re using. This allows users to be more productive by accommodating the system to their work schedules.
Using web-based services removes the need for large expenditure on implementing and maintaining hardware. Cloud Services work on a pay-as-you-go subscription model.
With cloud computing, your servers are off-premise, and are the responsibility of the service provider. The providers update systems automatically, including security updates. This saves your business time and money from having to do this yourself, which can be better spent focussed on other aspects of your organisation.
Cloud-based backup and recovery ensures that your data is protected. It was once a problem for smaller businesses to implement robust disaster recovery, but cloud solutions now provide these organisations a cost-effective solution with the expertise they need. Cloud Services save time, avoid large up-front investments and deliver third-party experience for your company.
The Cloud makes data and applications instantly accessible, so any disaster involving your hardware doesn’t halt your business processes. You can also protect your sensitive data by remotely wiping it from devices, so it isn’t seen by the wrong people.
Cloud Services are fast becoming the norm for any modern business. However, there are so many solutions available that spending time finding the right system for you can cost your business a significant amount of time and money, and runs the risk of you implementing a solution that isn’t ideal.
Software Advisory Service can help you find the right Cloud service for your needs. We offer expert, non-chargeable buying advice to help find the right system for you, and can provide a shortlist of potential vendors depending on your specific requirements. Complete the form here so that we can find the solution you need today!