When it comes to Cloud Computing, there are several different platforms available for use. Some of the terminology is old and some is new. Together, it is all The Cloud.
But what does it all mean and which is right for you? Let’s take a closer look.
Starting with the most obvious use of The Cloud, is SaaS, or Software as a Service. The SaaS movement has been around for some time and in many ways is the forefather or the very definition of Cloud Computing.
Another term for SaaS might be Public Cloud. SaaS is for the single or perhaps small business user where they don’t want to lease infrastructure or have hosted space, they just want access to their individual apps from anywhere they may be. Access and cost are usually the largest drivers behind SaaS takeup.
Think of Internet Banking and Gmail as two of the most common forms of SaaS today.
So you’re using a few SaaS services and think it would be great if you could combine them, or take your desktop with you everywhere you go, like on your iPad or Android. This is where you may look at a VaaS, or Virtualization as a Service provider.
This market is still quite young in the Cloud market, perhaps due to licencing issues or other restrictions. But think of it as unlimited VM Ware, or as a rented Desktop with fixed applications.
Hence, you may sign up to a VaaS service, for a Ubuntu desktop with Open Source Apps (Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird) for a very small fee, or for a little more, a Microsoft platform where you are served your stable Win 7 desktop complete with its Microsoft repetoir of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office. Or a combination of Microsoft desktop with Open Source apps to save on licencing a little.
In any case, the term “rented desktop” pretty much settles the VaaS criteria. A stable virtual desktop you can take anywhere, along with all your files, settings and bookmarks.
Next up we find IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service. Here we may find an organisation who wants some control over their software and data, but do not want to maintain any hardware.
Here a medium sized enterprise may want control over choosing their IaaS provider, but don’t want control over maintaining expensive hardware, building a climate controlled room and employing a MCSE/CCNA to look after it. Usually with most IaaS providers, you can still choose the size and amount of CPU’s, amount of disk space, RAM and other items to suit your needs and the IaaS provider will discuss maintaining your hardware and software for you.
Best of all with a IaaS platform, it’s highly scalable, so you should only ever be paying for exactly what you need.
Finally we may find an organisation who has custom ERP and CRM requirements, maybe an SAP or Great Plains platform requiring constant development and unlimited scalability options but don’t necessarily want the hardware and network overheads that come with a system of such size.
Here, the organisation will seek Platform as a Service such as Amazon, Microsoft or Google AppEngine, where the hardware and platform are provided for, but the platform is very open source and includes a ton of tools for writing one’s own Cloud venture or internal ERP system.
Microsoft Azure is perhaps the latest PaaS on the block.