What is cloud computing? It’s a simple question, but the answer is a bit more complex than most would realize. When people think about the cloud, their mind usually jumps to images of storage systems like Google Drive, and Dropbox. Cloud storage is only the tip of a massive iceberg that makes up the world of cloud computing. Specifically it’s part of the the tip that makes up something called SaaS, or Software as a Service. But we’ll circle back around to that in a minute.
What Is Cloud Computing?
So what exactly is cloud computing? It is the practice of using a network of hosted remote servers to store, manage, and process data. It is more efficient the alternative, a local server or a personal computer. Or put more simply, it’s using the internet to store and use data.
Cloud services are broken down into many different categories. But we’ll just take a quick moment to look at 3 major divisions of the cloud, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service
IaaS, or infrastructure as a service, takes the traditional physical computer hardware, and builds virtual infrastructures mimicking these resources. VMs, however, can be created, reconfigured, resized, and removed within moments. This tends to be a very useful tool for most companies and developers. They don’t need to invest the sizable amount it costs to purchase, set-up, and maintain those systems. And as most IaaS providers offer a pay as you go system. Once a machine is no longer needed, payments can just stop.
PaaS – Platform as a Service
PaaS, or platform as a service, provides a method for programming languages to interact with services like databases and storage. All without having to deal with lower level requirements like how much space a database needs. Also not worrying about whether the data is protected by making a copy between 3 servers.
Often, PaaS providers also have a SaaS offering. Therefore the platform is initially built to support that specific software.
SaaS – Software as a Service
This brings us to Software as a Service. It provides software for end-users such as email, word processing, or a business CRM. SaaS is usually a subscription. Companies have the flexibility to add or remove users at any time. They can do this without additional costs beyond the monthly per-user fee. Some of the most well known SaaS solutions are Google Apps, Salesforce, Uber, Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. Chances are good, that any digital subscription you have is an SaaS solution.