There’s simply no disputing the many benefits of cloud computing. No matter the size of a business, the flexibility and cost savings provided by cloud computing are huge factors in the decision to adopt. And as businesses grow and become more sophisticated, it really isn’t practical to host and manage all the information and services on-premise anymore. Read more about the benefits of cloud computing.
When it comes to cloud computing, and the various approaches and terms associated with it, many people still get confused. Don’t worry. If you find it all a bit baffling, you are not alone.
If your company is considering a move to the cloud, one of the first things you’ll need to get your head around is the three main categories of cloud computing services.
Software as a Service (SaaS) – It’s likely that you are already using some type of SaaS, both personally and in business. SaaS products allow you to access software applications remotely via the cloud as long as you have an internet connection. Everything is hosted in the cloud so there’s no need for hardware or costly software. Examples of SaaS include Facebook (and other social media), Google Apps, Salesforce, Netflix, DocuSign, Dropbox and more.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - IaaS pretty much sounds like what it is. It allows you to outsource your IT infrastructure rather than invest in servers, storage, data centers or other networking components. IaaS is the fastest growing area of cloud computing, according to a recent study from Gartner. Two of the most popular examples of IaaS are Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). More on those later.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Much appreciated by many developers, PaaS not only provides the benefits of IaaS, but also allows for developing and maintaining more sophisticated websites, applications and other services in a cloud environment.
You may be aware of the many benefits of cloud computing but when looking at the big picture before making a move and selecting a cloud hosting provider, you’ll want to determine what is important to your business and what you hope to get out of your move to the cloud.
Whether it’s storage space, serverless computing, the need to scale up or down quickly, cost savings, the convenience of shared resources or the need to up your security game, be sure to consider the benefits and drawbacks of your options – possibly with the guidance of an expert IT solutions provider.
Just like any product or service, there are many providers to choose from – from the behemoths to smaller niche providers. For our purposes, we’ll take a deeper dive into the two leaders in the industry.
Amazon Web Services – Referred to as AWS, Amazon Web Services has quickly grown to be the market cloud hosting provider leader since its launch in 2006.
Key benefits of AWS include cost-effectiveness without long-term commitments. AWS can help you run your IT environment very inexpensively. AWS is also revered for its best practices in security and the plethora of services that work well with a variety of languages and platforms. A commonly noted drawback to AWS is that it falls behind in ease of use and the learning curve is a bit higher than that of its major competitor. Billing can also be confounding, and you may have to pay extra for support.
Microsoft Azure – Microsoft Azure recently expanded its services and changed its name from Windows Azure.
Microsoft Azure is known to be easy to set up and use. It integrates extremely well with other Microsoft services, which can make it an ideal choice for small businesses. Azure is noted for its consistent reliability and scalability. Cons of Microsoft Azure include a bit higher cost than some of the other options and you can be charged for the “pay-as-you-go” service model.
A few of the other major players in the cloud hosting provider game are Google and IBM. Learn more about them in our previous blog post, Considering Adoption of Cloud Technologies?
If you’re having difficulty selecting the right fit for your organization, you can mix and match your cloud services depending on what you feel is the best fit. If you need a cloud readiness assessment or guidance determining what solutions your company will get the most value from, consider reaching out to a qualified IT solutions provider for assistance.