There are countless technology-related trends that come and go, but one of the most important technologies that business owners are sticking with is the cloud. Owners and managers know they ought to be using “the cloud” but it can be confusing to understand what it is exactly and then choose from among the different types of services available. To help, here is an overview of three of the most common cloud service models used by small to medium businesses.
1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Easily the largest and most well known cloud-based service, SaaS uses the cloud to deliver apps to users, and these apps are then usually accessed via a web browser. This means users who have access to the internet can access the software from any device, at any time. Unlike physical software that you install on your computer, SaaS solutions are hosted on a provider’s servers. In a nutshell, SaaS is:
- Available over the internet
- Hosted on a remote server by a third-party provider
- Scalable, with different tiers for small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses
- Inclusive, offering security, compliance, and maintenance as part of the cost
With SaaS, your provider is responsible for software maintenance and updates, which means users will all be using the same version of software and get updates at the same time. As a business owner, this means that managing the software on all of your computers is not only easier, but more affordable.
SaaS software solutions include office document creation suites, accounting software, email, HR solutions, content management, customer relationship management (CRM), and more.
2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
PaaS is primarily used by developers who need a virtual environment for developing and testing their own custom software or applications. This means developers don’t need to build and maintain their own infrastructure (which is comprised of networking devices, storage, servers, an operating system, and other necessary hardware and software) from scratch when developing applications, saving the firm time and money. Most companies who utilize PaaS do so to either host or develop their own software solutions, or to provide support for software used by employees. PaaS platforms are:
- Accessible by multiple users
- Scalable — you can choose from various tiers of resources to suit the size of your business
- Built on virtualization technology
- Easy to run without extensive system administration knowledge
While PaaS is gaining in popularity with many small businesses, most won’t have firsthand interaction with this type of cloud because they won't need to build their own software or app.
3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
IaaS offers services such as pay-as-you-go storage, networking, and virtualization. The most popular and well-known type of IaaS is the virtual machine — a digital version of a computer or server that is accessed over an internet connection. IaaS gives users cloud-based alternatives to expensive on-premises infrastructure so businesses can use their funds to invest in other things.
In other words, if you are looking to virtualize your systems via the cloud, IaaS is a good place to start, as it allows you to move existing support systems into the cloud. Other solutions can then be migrated or introduced as needed. IaaS is essentially:
- Highly flexible and scalable
- Accessible by multiple users
While the cloud offers a wide variety of benefits and solutions, choosing the service which is best for your company’s needs can be tedious. To ease this burden, get in touch with us today. We’ll help you find the best solution your business needs and ensure proper migration and implementation so you can focus on running your business.