Don’t get embarrassed if you don’t know every term that relates to cloud computing. Like every industry there’s a shorthand jargon that makes it easier for providers and professionals to describe services and technology. But what does it all mean?
The latest Cloud-ese you need to get your head around is PaaS, IaaS and SaaS. If you’re sitting scratching your head don’t worry, you won’t be the only one.
It breaks cloud computing down into three key areas; Software, Platform and Infrastructure. They’re known as layers. Chances are, if you’re an SME or startup you’ll have Software as it makes it easier for you to pick what you need and have it managed by a provider who’ll look after it for you.
Say you breakdown everything you get from a cloud provider. It will cover Applications, Data, Runtime, Middleware, Operating Systems, Virtualization, Servers, Storage and Networking. It’s easy enough to put those in a simple list but in fact there are different scales of investment needed. For example the decision whether to have servers onsite or to have them managed by someone else is a choice that will impact a sizeable chunk of your operating costs, your energy bills, how much staff you hire and where you have your business.
Infrastructure is the first layer and it’s known as IaaS. All you’ll hand to a cloud provider is Virtualization, Servers, Storage and Networking. You’ll run your Applications, data and everything else. This is a great option if you have an inhouse IT team. They’ll be able to manage everything. If you don’t you’ll have to look after your own libraries, applications and data, which is too much for many small firms.
Platform as a Service is the next along the chain. It’s essentially a combination service, like a mix and match. It’s one part devilment bundle to two parts solution. You get the infrastructure without needing it on site and having to manage the hardware. From there you can develop your own solutions. This is the option usually chosen by IT firms who want to sell on IT solutions. If you develop and deploy applications over the Internet, like virtualized servers then this is probably the one you’ll pick. However, the main problem for many comes from the sustainability of the market – how many firms are looking for app-hosting.
SaaS is Software as a Service. It’s the one you’ll deal with most from switching on your smartphone to logging into your PC. Pretty much anything you’re paying for comes through a web browser. So if you’re firm has opted for hosted Exchange and you’re working on the go you can still access your emails and calendar through a log-in on a website. The whole application is hosted externally on another server.
Jargon can make choosing a technology solution pretty confusing, especially if you’re faced with a range of choices and simply want what’s best for your business. Flexibility and finding a solution that best meets your needs and skillset is what’s most important. Make sure you cut through the acronyms and baffling terms to find out exactly what suits you.