Is IaaS the best place for businesses seeking to get started in cloud computing?
Cloud computing presents organizations with so many options that it is almost impossible for them to know what area to jump into first. By now you’ve probably encountered the terms SaaS and PaaS (Software-as-a-Service & Platform-as-a-Service), perhaps you’re wondering why IaaS is generally seen as “the only choice” over these types of models?
In terms of actual use(s), SaaS is the most readily accessible form of cloud computing, but its reach is somewhat limited in all actuality. Basically, SaaS is loosely defined as the use of any software through a cloud. As with almost every other form of cloud computing, SaaS is also generally deployed as a metered service; you pay for access to the software, really. There are so many examples of SaaS out there and virtually all businesses will encounter it at some point if they’re not already using some form of it right now that is.
However, SaaS is not a complete IT solution by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, you could think of SaaS as being akin to a single service offering, something that performs one task (or group of tasks) very well. Simply put, SaaS doesn’t comprise any form of extensive infrastructure that can be used for running extensive cloud-based hardware, SaaS is generally seen as just another virtualization process that’s delivered to customers a la carte’.
Then of course you have PaaS, which is a major leap forward from SaaS in terms of overall abilities. But PaaS isn’t generally used by businesses to run their IT operations (internally or externally). Sure, PaaS can be boxed up and packaged so that it can function as a complete cloud computing offering / solution, but what we actually find is that businesses like to use it for development instead. In truth, PaaS closely resembles IaaS in a number of ways, but is not nearly as flexible when it comes to overall control.
PaaS offerings are typically set in stone and offered by vendors who plan on managing users’ cloud service(s) themselves. Additionally, most PaaS solutions are generally accessible through a browser. If you have an organization that requires multitudes of individuals working together in developing something (software is a good example), PaaS will allow for an increasing number of participants with little to no problems. However, PaaS is itself not really a completely whole or flexible cloud-based IT solution; and it certainly doesn’t allow for more complete management of infrastructure from the point-of-view of the user.
Where the other two models fall short, IaaS goes long. IaaS encapsulates all other layers (PaaS and SaaS), can be deployed as a complete IT solution, and affords the absolute greatest control of any available model. In other words, if an organization wants to replace their IT assets with IaaS, they can do so without losing too much direct control over the actual management of their infrastructure. Naturally, they’ll still have to contend with their provider(s) handling the direct management, upkeep and on-site physical security, but these are generally more expensive issues anyway and better left to them. In fact, being able to trim costs associated with the upkeep of hardware (or even software) is pretty major, through statistical surveys we often find that the budgets of businesses are being ate up by incessant upgrade costs.
IaaS and cloud computing have the ability to completely change the relationship between a business and its IT department. Through the cloud, an organization can actually save (via reduced energy consumption and the suspending of necessary hardware/software upgrades) extraordinary amounts while at the same time, increasing their abilities. From this standpoint, IaaS is more than a good investment, it is a game changer. Likewise, due to the nature of frequent change (in cloud computing), newer forms of applications and software are emerging all the time which have the potential to propel certain areas of a business operation (far) forward (almost overnight in some cases).
These are just a few of the reasons why companies are flocking to cloud computing and IaaS, there are also some groundbreaking developments going on which seek to rewrite the rules yet again. For instance, there are new types of IaaS coming onto the scene which will allow businesses to quickly switch the orientation of their cloud from public to private. This is beneficial in that it will allow organizations to employ forms of security which might only be used in one of the aforementioned configurations.
Without a doubt, IaaS offerings should be explored by companies who are seeking either upgrades to their existing service or those who are even first time users. Properly utilizing IaaS however will likely depend on how well versed your IT personnel are with regards to IaaS training as well as cloud computing (certification) in general.