These days, many enterprises of all sizes are using cloud computing to streamline their operations and boost productivity. In terms of meeting businesses’ needs in real time, the cloud can offer SMEs many benefits, such as a reduction in spending on technology infrastructure (on hardware, software or licensing fees); in addition, it can lessen the burden on IT managers who have a smaller role in maintaining systems (e.g., maintenance and upgrades) and can make life much easier for operatives to access files and programs on a computer (or mobile device) from across a network at anytime, anywhere, via the Internet.
Cloud computing is actually appealing to any type of computer users. Whether at home, at work, or on-the-go, they can (just like SMEs) use on-demand cloud-based software, platforms or infrastructure that are sold "as a service." In fact, there are three types of cloud computing service models: Software as a Service (SaaS (News - Alert)), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). They all use the Internet for delivering hosted services to the users.
The three mentioned service models, in a nutshell:
SaaS: It offers the possibility to have access to software and programs remotely. It is a fully scalable alternative to buying software and is focused on managing access to applications. An example of this type of arrangement is Office 365, which is SaaS because it provides an online version of MS Office Suite (Office Web Apps) along with SharePoint Server, Exchange Server and Lync Server.
PaaS: It gives enterprises the ability to develop and run their software solutions on a cloud platform without having to allocate resources. An example of this type of arrangement is Windows Azure, which is Microsoft (News - Alert)'s cloud application platform.
IaaS: It consists of virtual machines – and other resources, like Storage, Networking, and Load Balancers. IaaS-cloud providers supply these resources on-demand. It enables a user to outsource and choose the core components for their infrastructure. Many SMEs find this appropriate for their businesses as it takes away the burden of buying, managing and updating their own infrastructure. Microsoft’s Windows Azure Virtual Machines is an example of IaaS.
Each of the three client-server models, which typically use a "pay as you go” system, have been beneficial for companies of all sizes; especially smaller businesses could benefit from these options as cloud computing lets business owners start up or grow their small business quickly without the hassle and costs of IT management. For many businesses, cloud computing has proved to be cost effective, but also reliable and flexible. Consequently, cloud adoption has continued to rise and in 2013, it showed continuous growth for each of the three cloud models.
“Because of continued growth and customer confidence, cloud providers are hoping to transfer additional infrastructure services to the cloud while converting IaaS and PaaS customers into SaaS customers,” revealed a post this past week on the InformationWeek website.
The possibility of moving to a full SaaS model (to gain access to application software and databases, leaving cloud providers responsible to manage the infrastructure and platforms that run the applications) may be forthcoming as the sharing of services, (Google (News - Alert) Docs, email etc.) becomes an acceptable concept for many.
Last year, SMEs spent a great deal of time offloading servers into Platform and Infrastructure models. Still, SaaS was just as popular, with many opting for “the software-centric cloud” with intentions of expanding to a wider range of applications and solutions, explained an InformationWeek editorial, “Cloud Computing Takes Off With SaaS”. The report did mention though that “[the enterprises] were hesitant to offload the full management of highly customized and mission-critical software in production. As a compromise, they experimented with IaaS and PaaS to offload infrastructure to a third party while allowing application-level management by in-house IT staff.”
When discussing the probability of adopting on-demand SaaS, to have software when it is needed, concerns are being voiced about security issues. Many are still anxious about surrendering all the company’s sensitive information to a third-party cloud service provider. The number of cloud-skeptics, however, is declining year-over-year from 55 percent of respondents in 2012 to only 46 percent in 2013, as per North Bridge Venture Partners' annual Future of Cloud Computing Survey.
According to a new Gartner report “Software as a Service 2009-2014″, the SaaS revenues within the enterprise software market will continue to grow. As of today, SaaS remains the most popular form of cloud service, used by 63 percent of organizations, up from 55 percent last year.
The bottom line is that SaaS, a Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) in cloud computing, can be integrated to provide a solution at large scale, and in heterogeneous environments to have software running on one or more real machines for internal/external users to access. By understanding all there is to know about SaaS, and ensuring the reliability of the chosen hosted service provider in delivering safe cloud-based applications and services, a company will be able to have the most efficient and cost-effective solutions for their business.