There is nearly unanimous agreement among technology analysts and executives that 2017 will be a big year for cloud computing. Various surveys suggest that as much as 60 percent of all enterprise IT workloads will be running in the cloud by the end of the year.
Nonetheless, the cloud still isn’t particularly well understood outside of IT circles. In our last post, we discussed essential cloud characteristics such as on-demand provisioning, resource pooling and rapid elasticity. Today, we’ll take a look at the distinct ways organizations can use the cloud.
There is a tendency to think of the cloud as place, but it might be better to think of it as a method for purchasing and provisioning IT resources. Depending on specific needs, organizations generally use the cloud to acquire applications, infrastructure or entire platforms.
Cloud application services, or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), represents the largest and most mainstream segment of the cloud market. SaaS uses the web to deliver applications that are managed by a third-party provider. Microsoft Office 365 is one of the more well-known SaaS examples. Unlike Office 2016, which requires you to purchase software and install it on your computer hard drive, Office 365 applications can be accessed from a web-based portal on a subscription basis.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) gives customers access to all the computing resources they need for application development — without the cost or complexity of owning and operating the infrastructure on-premises. PaaS reduces the time and cost of developing, testing and deploying new applications, and dramatically simplifies application updates. Analysts predict rapid growth in PaaS over the next three years as organizations look to improve agility through the rapid development of customer-facing apps and the elimination of heavyweight on-premises hardware.
With Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), companies can basically buy everything they need — servers, storage, networking and operating systems — as an on-demand service. It is the fulfillment of IT’s long quest for “utility computing” in which the entire infrastructure is purchased based on variable rates of consumption, just like public utilities. While the provider manages and maintains the underlying hardware, customers control their own applications, operating systems, middleware and some networking components such as firewalls.
There are three primary deployment models for cloud computing:
- In a private cloud, the infrastructure is dedicated for a single customer. It may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premises or off premises.
- In a public cloud, a provider makes all pooled resources available to the general public or to a large group of customers. Most SaaS offerings are offered through a public cloud due to the unlimited access. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are the most recognizable public cloud providers.
- A hybrid cloud mixes on-premises infrastructure with one or more public, private or community clouds with orchestration between the platforms. This is often the approach companies use to create public-cloud failover for in-house systems. It also provides flexible “cloud-bursting” capabilities for ramping up capacity during times of peak demand.
Although the cloud can seem nebulous and mysterious, there are a number of things to consider when choosing among the various options and deployment models. SSD Technology Partners can help you evaluate cloud solutions and determine the best strategy for incorporating the cloud into your IT environment.