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Key features and benefits of cloud services

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Key features and benefits of cloud services

When it comes to business processes and applications, everything now seems to revolve around the cloud. But if you’re not too sure what the cloud really is and how your business can benefit from using cloud services, don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. In this brief guide to the cloud, we’ll explore the key features and benefits of cloud services for businesses.

For starters, it helps to clarify that the cloud isn’t floating around, but it’s also not limited to one particular place. ​​When something is stored in the cloud, it just means that it’s stored in physical data centers that you can connect to online. And a cloud service just means that the resource is provided over the internet. 

For example, a cloud service that lets you store files, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, just means that the files are stored in data centers that those companies manage and delivered to you via the internet. That’s why you can access your cloud drive on essentially any device, since the files aren’t limited to storage on your computer itself.

Businesses can use and benefit from cloud solutions in many ways. From cloud services that enable business processes with scale and flexibility, to cloud computing solutions that enable companies to access computing power without needing their own physical infrastructure, the cloud offers many advantages.

Key Features of Cloud Services

Cloud services can vary widely given the broad definition of the cloud itself. To get a better grasp on the features of cloud services, it helps to look at more specific categories. The “SPI” model is an acronym that provides a good way to categorise three common categories of cloud solutions; it stands for Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

SaaS

Probably the best known type of cloud category is Software as a Service (SaaS). This category includes any type of software that’s deployed and managed via the cloud. In the old days, you may remember buying a physical software program that you loaded onto your computer, such as through a CD-ROM. Then, it became possible to download applications online but still have them take up storage on your device. SaaS, however, is hosted in the cloud, so often all you need to do is visit a website to access the software. In some cases you might need to install a plugin, but for the most part, everything runs remotely. 

Some of the key features of SaaS are that you can easily access the software from multiple locations, the software typically automatically updates, and you can easily scale the number of users up or down. From accounting systems, to marketing platforms, to staples like Microsoft Office, there are a wide variety of SaaS systems to choose from.

PaaS

Going deeper than SaaS, Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides the environment to build and deploy your own business applications, all in the cloud. In other words, PaaS provides cloud features that let you create SaaS. The PaaS provider can offer users everything that’s needed to build software by hosting things like coding tools while leaving the creation itself to the user, such as if you want to develop a proprietary analytics tool.

“You manage the applications and services you develop, and the cloud service provider typically manages everything else,” explains Microsoft.

IaaS

Finally, IaaS is the deepest tier in the SPI cloud model. Think of IaaS as the essential building blocks of all cloud computing solutions, with the IaaS provider hosting things like servers and storage delivered to users via the cloud. So, if a business wants more control over their software and application development but doesn’t necessarily want to maintain all of the back-end infrastructure in their own data center, they can use the IaaS cloud-hosted model. 

“These cost-effective infrastructure elements can include compute, network, and storage hardware as well as other components and software,” explains Oracle.

Businesses can also use what’s known as a hybrid cloud model, which can include a mix of infrastructure that they host themselves along with some infrastructure hosted in the cloud, both privately and with public IaaS providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.

What are the Benefits of Cloud Services?

Cloud services aren’t just trendy. There are clear business benefits with cloud services. Some of the more notable ones include:

Flexibility

Cloud services provide users with the flexibility to access their work from most internet-connected devices. That means employees can easily work remotely while still collaborating much as if they were in the office.

Scalability 

Related to flexibility, cloud services also can easily scale up or down depending on your needs. Instead of being locked into a fixed number of licenses when downloading on-premise software, cloud services often operate on a pay-as-you-go model, so you can add or remove employee access and adjust service levels as needed. 

Cost Savings

Using web-based services often saves money, as companies don’t have to make huge expenses for things like building out a data center, only to have the technology become outdated not long after. Similarly, the pay-as-you-go model can save you from investing too much into a service that ends up not working out for your business.

Automatic Updates

With cloud computing, the responsibility for managing updates typically falls to the service provider, which can save your business time and money. For example, with SaaS updates, the provider can automatically update the software to include new features, so the next time you log in, you have access. In the past, you may have had to buy a new version of the software to receive these updates.

Disaster Recovery

Working in the cloud often means that your work is automatically saved to the provider’s data centers. So, if something happens on your end, like your computer crashes in the middle of an important project, you can often recover your work and pick up where you left off simply by logging back in through another device. Plus, if you make a mistake while working, you may be able to access an earlier version of your work, depending on the cloud provider’s backup policies. 

See How the Cloud Can Help Your Business

Cloud services are fast becoming the norm for any modern business, as there are so many benefits to using cloud solutions. However, there are so many choices available that trying to find the right system can cost your company significant time and money, and there’s a real risk of ending up with an ineffective solution.

Instead, if you’re looking to simplify your options and find relevant cloud services, Software Advisory Service can help. We're a technology consultancy using procurement best practice and data insights to save companies time and money. Our goal is to make business technology procurement simple, transparent, and cost-effective. Click the button below to book a consultation at your convenience. We won’t charge you anything, and we won’t share any of your project details without your explicit approval.


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