Wikipedia defines Cloud Computing as “the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet).” These days the term is thrown around constantly, and while many people have a basic idea of what the cloud is, they may not fully understand the different types of cloud services that are available, and most importantly, the different benefits they can provide.
There are two main types of cloud services that can make sense for small businesses, which we will discuss here: “Software/Storage as a Service” (SaaS/STaaS) and “Infrastructure/Desktop as a Service” (IaaS/DaaS). The primary difference between these two approaches to working in the cloud lies in the scope of what they are used for. Saas/SaaS tends to focus on meeting specific needs and replacing only certain elements of the local work environment. IaaS/DaaS, on the other hand, is intended to completely replace the local working environment by offering desktops and servers that exist in the cloud. There are advantages to both of these approaches, which we will discuss.
SaaS and STaaS typically are cloud services that are implemented to replace some program and/or data storage that was previously hosted locally. Some examples include using a webbased database program to manage inventory & sales, or to manage customer information (like Salesforce.com); using an Internet-based office productivity suite (like Google Docs or Microsoft’s Office 365); and using a hosted Exchange server for email (like Apptix or 123Together). In all of these examples, both software and storage are being provided as a single service. The primary advantage of using SaaS/STaaS services is that businesses can access and collaborate on certain programs & data, from anywhere, at a fairly low cost. This may be an attractive option for businesses that have only one or two primary programs in use, and that do not mind having a cloud environment that is not fully integrated into the rest of their work environment. Businesses that rely on SaaS will still need to make significant ongoing capital investments in their local IT infrastructure (computers, servers, etc.) because these are usually still needed. Additionally, database and file sharing performance may suffer in some cases because all data must travel between the local computers and the cloud-based servers that are used.
IaaS and Daas are cloud services that are typically implemented to replace the entire working environment for users. Cloud providers (such as CloudConnect) offer hosted desktops and servers, which enable businesses to move their entire infrastructure into the cloud. With a cloud-based desktop, users can log in to their desktop from anywhere, including from mobile devices, and access their full desktop with all shortcuts, programs, & files. The user’s desktop looks and functions the same way whether they’re working in the office, at home, or on the road. Database and file sharing performance is usually excellent because the hosted desktops and servers are located together on the cloud provider’s system. Since the desktops and servers are all hosted in the cloud, businesses using IaaS/DaaS no longer need to purchase new desktop PCs or servers. The primary disadvantage of IaaS/DaaS is the cost, as it is much higher than SaaS/STaaS; however, much of this cost can be offset over time by increasing users’ productivity and eliminating the need for purchasing new computers.
If you have questions about the cloud, or about how cloud services could benefit your business, contact us anytime at 866-9MBTECH or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.