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Key Features and Benefits of Cloud Services

Are you looking into getting a cloud computing solution for your business, but don’t really know where to start? In this little e-guide, we’ll walk you through the best cloud benefits available today. Let’s jump in.

Essentially, a cloud service can refer to any resource provided over the internet. There are different types of cloud computing solutions available, and – in most cases - it can be quite challenging to decide between the various cloud infrastructure solutions. There’s simply so many of them on the market!

You’ll often hear people refer to “the cloud”, but the reality is that there is no physical infrastructure that you can point to as being the cloud. The technological explanation is that any cloud solution 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.

While we’ll discuss cloud benefits properly later, it’s still worth mentioning that one of its greatest benefits is that cloud services are easily scalable. In fact, the set-up allows for an unlimited number of machines to operate through it, but you could just as easily build a service with five to ten computers.

 

The SPI Model

An essential part of understanding cloud computing is to get a firm grasp on what we refer to as the SPI model. SPI is an acronym for the three most common cloud service solutions: Software as a Service ( SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

 

SaaS

Software as a Service is the best known type of cloud computing. Its purpose is to reassign the task of managing software and its deployment to third-party services. While the software applications are hosted in the cloud, most of them can be run directly from a web browser without having to download or install anything – although in some cases it might require plugins.

So, what’s an example of this type cloud computing solution? Well, 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. Businesses can use these cloud applications for various processes, including accounting, tracking of sales, monitoring performance, communication, and planning.

PaaS

Cloud platform services function at a lower level than SaaS, and this can provide an environment where you can develop and deploy cloud applications. In general, PaaS providers offer infrastructure in which the operating system, network infrastructure and server software are tended to, allowing them instead to focus on the development of applications. Like most cloud computing services, PaaS is based on virtualisation technology. Businesses can request resources as needed and easily scale their system, something which cannot be achieved with traditional hardware solutions. PaaS can be delivered via a hybrid cloud model – which uses both public IaaS and on-premise infrastructure – or as an entirely private PaaS that’s only deployed on-premise. Examples of this cloud hybrid model includes Google App Engine and Salesforce.com.

 

IaaS

Finally, IaaS is the lowest tier in the SPI cloud model, and you can think of it as the essential building blocks of all cloud computing solutions. IaaS platforms are essentially virtualised hardware, such as for example virtual server space, network connections, bandwidth and IP addresses. With this cloud option, 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 the drawbacks of capacity planning, physical planning and management.

But how does this cloud model work? 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, on the other hand, has access to visualised components so that they can build their own IT platforms. IaaS resources are often provided through a dashboard and an API. To summarise, IaaS is the most flexible cloud solution, and it accommodates the automated deployment of servers, processing power, storage and networking. Examples of this cloud service include Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. You can also combine the services offered by private and public providers, this is known as hybrid cloud solutions. 

 


What are the Benefits of Cloud Services?

There are a vast amount of benefits of cloud services, so let's take a closer look at some of the most vital ones.

Flexibility


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.

Cost Savings


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.

 

Automatic Updates


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.

 

Disaster Recovery


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.

 

Security


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.

 

How SAS Can Help

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 it 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 on the right so that we can find the solution you need today!


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