The Basics of Cloud Computing

English: Cloud Computing visual diagram

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Commonly mentioned in both the technology and marketing business sectors, the cloud is a concept that was originated in the 1960’s. It took the greater part of four decades to become a reality but the cloud is alive and well, making business transactions, social networking, and software training (to name a few) easier and more accessible for businesses and consumers alike. The cloud itself can be thought of us a space in the sky that stores, maintains, and executes information. There are many benefits to using the cloud, starting with physical space. The amount of space required to house a mainframe, even a relatively small mainframe, can require a temperature controlled room separate and secure from the rest of the office facility. Not only is this inconvenient but it’s also costly. Everything from the valuable space a mainframe consumes, to utility costs, to employee costs required to maintain the mainframe, the capital expense can be too much for a growing business to handle.

The cloud is an all-encompassing space-saver that can allow a small, growing business to compete in the same arena as an industry giant. The cloud replaces hardware with IaaS, operating systems with PaaS, and applications with SaaS. The aaS in our acronyms represents the phrase, ‘as a Service,’ which begs the question, what is as a service?

As a Service is the on-demand, self-service that allows users to obtain, configure and deploy information without the assistance of the technology function of a business. aaS is the service and / or software delivery model in which software and associated data are centrally hosted on the cloud. Most commonly, aaS is accessed by user using a thin client (a computer, computer program or tablet) byway of a web browser. In more common vernacular, the aaS is a pay as you go service allowing users (internal or external) to access information. Common forms of this include CRM, MIS, or HRM systems.

Briefly mentioned above are Iaas, PaaS, and Saas. These are the three most important aaS options but by no means are these the limit of this space. Additional aaS options include Network (NaaS), Storage (STaaS), Securtiy (SEaaS), Data (DaaS), Database (DBaaS), Test Environment (TEaaS) and so on. The opportunity and options are only expected to grow in the coming years so expect to hear more about other service options shortly.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is the capability provided to the user for processing, storing, networking that allows the user to run software including operating systems and applications. The user doesn’t have control of the infrastructure but does have control of the operating system, storage and running applications. There are other controls the user may have that relate to networking such as firewalls but typically, these functions are very limited. To make this a little simpler, think of IaaS as the hardware that makes a computer function. Components such as the computer terminal, networking cables, ram, storage space, and so on are all embodied in IaaS.

PaaS (Platform as a Service) is the functionality available to the user to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created applications created using programing languages, libraries, services and tools supported by the provider. The user doesn’t manage the infrastructure, nor does he/she control the network, servers, operating system or storage but more or less has control over configuration settings for the application hosting environment. Simply stated, PaaS is comparable to the Windows or OSX operating systems for PC or Mac. They run on the infrastructure, store crucial pieces of information, and deploy applications as needed.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is the capability provided to the user to access and run proprietary applications on a cloud infrastructure. Applications are available through thin-client interfaces, including web browsers or program interface. The user doesn’t control or manage the cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage or individual applications capabilities. What the user does have access to is the limited user specific application configuration settings. In simpler terms, SaaS is the user’s ability to access a cloud based application on their computing device. This can include social networking websites, email, online gaming, CRM systems, etc.


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