What is a cloud service?
The term “cloud services” refers to a wide range of services delivered on demand to companies and customers over the internet. These services are designed to provide easy, affordable access to applications and resources, without the need for internal infrastructure or hardware. From checking email to collaborating on documents, most employees use cloud services throughout the workday, whether they’re aware of it or not. Office365 is a great example that many of our clients use on a daily basis.
Cloud services are fully managed by cloud computing vendors and service providers. They’re made available to customers from the providers’ servers, so there’s no need for a company to host applications on its own on-premises servers.
Let’s explore four basic cloud service questions we answer for our clients:
- How are cloud services delivered?
- What types of cloud services are there?
- What are the benefits of cloud services?
- What’s the future of cloud services?
When deciding if cloud services are the right investment, organizations must also decide which type of environment works best for the business: public cloud, private cloud, or a mix of both.
How are cloud services delivered?
Services that a cloud provider makes available to numerous customers over the internet are referred to as public cloud services. The Office365 example noted above is a public cloud-based offering. The biggest benefit of using public cloud services is the ability to share resources at scale, allowing organizations to offer employees more capabilities than would likely be possible alone.
Your organization can also offer its own private cloud options. With a private cloud services model, apps and data are made available through the organization’s own internal infrastructure or through rented cloud resources dedicated to that specific company.
The platform and software serve one company alone and are not made available to users outside the organization. Companies that work with highly sensitive data, such as those in the healthcare and banking industries, often use private clouds to leverage advanced cyber security protocols and extend resources in a virtualized environment as needed.
In a hybrid cloud environment, a private cloud solution is combined with public cloud services. This arrangement is often used when an organization needs to store sensitive data in a private cloud, but wants employees to access apps and resources in the public cloud for day-to-day communication and collaboration. Proprietary software is used to enable communication between the cloud services, often through a single IT management console.
What types of cloud services are there?
Generally speaking, there are three basic types of cloud services:
Software as a Service (SaaS)
The most widely recognized type of cloud service is known as software as a service, or SaaS. This broad category encompasses a variety of services, such as file storage and backup, web-based email, and project management tools.
Examples of SaaS cloud service providers include Dropbox, G Suite, Microsoft Office 365 and Slack. In each of these applications, users can access, share, store, and secure information in “the cloud.”
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, provides the infrastructure that many cloud service providers need to manage SaaS tools—but don’t want to maintain themselves. It serves as the complete datacenter framework, eliminating the need for resource-intensive, on-site installations.
Examples of IaaS are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine. These providers maintain all storage servers and networking hardware, and may also offer load balancing, application firewalls, and more. Many well-known SaaS providers run on IaaS platforms.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The cloud service model known as platform as a service, or PaaS, serves as a web-based environment where developers can build cloud apps. PaaS provides a database, operating system and programming language that organizations can use to develop cloud-based software, without having to maintain the underlying elements.
Many IaaS vendors, including the examples listed above, also offer PaaS capabilities.
What are the benefits of cloud services?
Key advantages of using cloud services include:
-The ability to scale
Because the cloud service provider supplies all necessary infrastructure and software, there’s no need for a company to invest in its own resources or allocate extra IT staff to manage the service. This, in turn, makes it easy for the business to scale the solution as user needs change—whether that means increasing the number of licenses to accommodate a growing workforce or expanding and enhancing the applications themselves.
Many cloud services are provided on a monthly or annual subscription basis, eliminating the need to pay for on-premises software licenses. This allows organizations to access software, storage, and other services without having to invest in the underlying infrastructure or handle maintenance and upgrades.
With cloud services, companies can procure services on an on-demand, as-needed basis. If and when there’s no longer a need for a particular application or platform, the business can simply cancel the subscription or shut down the service.
What’s the future of cloud services?
As the availability of cloud services continues to expand, so will their applications in the corporate world. Whether a company chooses to extend existing on-premises software deployments or move 100% to the cloud, these services will continue to simplify how organizations deliver mission-critical apps and data to the workforce. From application delivery to desktop virtualization solutions, plus a vast array of options in between, cloud services are transforming how people work and the ways businesses operate.