Cloud Computing: What does it really mean?

In todays’ Information technology (IT) world there is a lot of buzz regarding cloud computing. In the past five years as cloud offerings gain maturity, it has enhanced IT and its services.

Cloud computing refers to applications and services offered over the Internet. It is a technology that uses the network of huge servers which is hosted on the internet and it is provided as a service to store data, to run applications, to run websites and much more. Cloud computing is a technology which provides infrastructure i.e. software and hardware as a service.

Examples of cloud computing delivery models can be divided into the following categories:

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): IaaS also known as Hardware as a service (HaaS) provides hardware, server, disk storage, virtual server instance, operating system instances, datacenter space and network components on demand, all these are tracked and maintained by the IaaS provider. Users can access it through internet and pay only for what they use (pay- per use module).

This model has many advantages from a user point of view, as the user or the company does not incur any costs associated with the purchase of equipment in server rooms nor they have to deal with any issues related to repair or replacement of damaged components of the server, all these things are taken care by the IaaS service provider. Also, as IaaS has flexible cloud environment, users of an organization are enabled to work flexibly without any kind of IT mess.

Platform as a service (PaaS): PaaS model builds on IaaS, it provides infrastructure over the internet on which the users can develop, deploy, test software and build custom applications. In short, developers create applications on the provider’s platform over the Internet. PaaS allows users to create applications using software components that are controlled by a third-party vendor.

PaaS provides advantage to the developers as they can change and upgrade the features of the operating system and plus they don’t need to buy manage and maintain the underlying hardware and software layers as the underlying infrastructure is the responsibility of the PaaS Cloud provider. PaaS is a secured way to develop and run your applications in the cloud environment.

Software as a service (SaaS): SaaS is the most straightforward cloud computing model for customers. It is a software distribution model in which applications or data is hosted by the service provider and is made available for the user from everywhere over the network (internet). It is often used for enterprise applications that are distributed to multiple users for eg: CRM systems, games, email and virtual desktops applications are offered by vendors as SaaS models. The users use this service on a subscription basis.

One of the main benefits of SaaS is: SaaS Cloud Providers often take into account multiple platforms including mobile, browser, and tablets which are very useful for the organizations who want software that can be accessed from various multiple platforms and SaaS Cloud providers may also provide applications for mobile devices.

The above services are three main service model of cloud computing and each one of them benefits the organizations in their own way. Thus, proper utilization of these cloud computing service models can make organizations run viably and more efficiently. In addition, other services include Storage as a service, Desktop as a service, Security as a service and Data as a service, all these services are offered from data centers all over the world, which collectively are referred to as the “cloud”. Hence Cloud computing is a model which involves delivering hosted services through the internet on demand.