Last week in our first edition of “Cloudy to Clear”, we covered the basic definition of cloud computing and its three main deployment methods (public, private, and hybrid). This week, turning our focus to the internal architecture of a cloud, we’ll identify and define its three service layers: software, platform, and infrastructure.
Echoing last week’s post, IronOrbit seeks to educate SMBs about cloud computing and its benefits. Most organizations would select cloud computing over the alternatives if they were given an honest assessment of the cloud’s strengths and weaknesses. But three groups prefer to spread a dishonest representation of cloud computing: 1) cloud solutions vendors compensating for their mediocre products and services; 2) on-premise solutions vendors struggling to retain customers; 3) IT journalists variously trying to stand out as technology soothsayers, cheerleaders, or “voices of reason”. Together they hyperventilate over cloud computing as alternatively a financial miracle solution or IT booby-trap.
As we have attempted to show in our “Cloudy to Clear” series and other blog posts, a cloud, when delivered by an experienced and knowledgeable hosting provider, can be secure, stable, and a catalyst to lower IT costs and smoother organizational growth. The convergence of a few long-trusted, proven, and suddenly-cheap technologies (high speed internet, virtualized servers, scalable infrastructures), very little about the cloud has been surprising or scary to IT veterans. IronOrbit hopes that after reading these blog posts SMBs will share a similarly realistic yet still overwhelmingly positive view of cloud computing.
Cloud Computing Glossary: Architecture Terms
Software as a Service (SaaS). Most people have heard of or used the SaaS form of cloud computing. With SaaS, the hosting provider takes care of the infrastructure and the platform. Users connect to the provider’s servers to access an application. The users’ application-related data remains on the provider’s servers. SaaS solutions give companies the same productivity as locally-installed software. Meanwhile, SaaS requires zero investment from the subscriber in processing and storage hardware and requires no long-term software licenses. IronOrbit classifies our SaaS offerings as “hosted applications.”
Platform as a Service (PaaS). In contrast with SaaS, relatively few people have heard of or used the PaaS form of cloud computing. PaaS can be utilized by software developers to build or extend applications. The hosting provider handles the infrastructure. PaaS allows larger organizations with on-staff IT development teams to build custom applications without having to purchase and prep the infrastructure and its hardware. IronOrbit possesses the knowledge and ability to host a PaaS offering but has yet to receive such a request from its mainly SMB client base.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). With IaaS, the hosting provider delivers to the client a bare-bones cloud-based IT infrastructure. The hosting provider handles the servers, storage devices, databases, operating systems, and networks. Meanwhile, the clients get to improvise their own software, platforms, and network management. The IaaS model gives organizations the most amount of choice, freedom, and control. They can purchase and customize their own IT infrastructure without having to procure and maintain any IT hardware. IronOrbit specializes in IaaS and has been delivering web-hosted IT infrastructures to SMBs for almost 15 years.
Make sure to read our Cloudy to Clear post next week when we will attempt to pin down cloud-related concepts and terms such as virtualization and scalability.