Cloud computing enables convenient, ubiquitous, measures, and on-demand access to a shared pool of scalable and configurable resources, such as servers, applications, databases, networks, and other services. Also, these resources can be provisioned and released rapidly with minimum interaction and management from the provider.
The rapidly expanding technology is rife with obscure acronyms, with major ones being SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. These acronyms distinguish the three major cloud computing models discussed in this article. Notably, cloud computing virtually meets any imaginable IT needs in diverse ways. In effect, the cloud computing models are necessary to show the role that a cloud service provides and how the function is accomplished. The three main cloud computing paradigms can be demonstrated on the diagram shown below.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
In infrastructure as a service model, the cloud provider offers a service that allows users to process, store, share, and user other fundamental computing resources to run their software, which can include operating systems and applications. In this case, a consumer has minimum control over the underlying cloud infrastructure, but has significant control over operating systems, deployed applications, storage, and some networking components, such as the host firewalls.
Based on its description, IaaS can be regarded as the lowest-level cloud service paradigm, and possibly the most crucial one. With this paradigm, a cloud vendor provides pre-configured computing resources to consumers via a virtual interface. From the definition, IaaS pertains underlying cloud infrastructure but does not include applications or an operating system. Implementation of the applications, operating system, and some network components, such as the host firewalls is left up to the end user. In other words, the role of the cloud provider is to enable access to the computing infrastructure necessary to drive and support their operating systems and application solutions.
In some cases, the IaaS model can provide extra storage for data backups, network bandwidth, or it can provide access to enhanced performance computing which was traditionally available using supercomputers. IaaS services are typically provided to users through an API or a dashboard.
Features of IaaS
- Users transfer the cost of purchasing IT infrastructure to a cloud provider
- Infrastructure offered to a consumer can be increased or reduced depending on business storage and processing needs
- The consumer will be saved from challenges and costs of maintaining hardware
- High availability of data is in the cloud
- Administrative tasks are virtualized
- IaaS is highly flexible compared to other models
- Highly scalable and available
- Permits consumers to focus on their core business and transfer critical IT roles to a cloud provider
IaaS Use Cases
A series of use cases can explore the above benefits and features afforded by IaaS. For instance, an organization that lacks the capital to own and manage their data centers can purchase an IaaS offering to achieve fast and affordable IT infrastructure for their business. Also, the IaaS can be expanded or terminated based on the consumer needs. Another set of companies that can deploy IaaS include traditional organizations seeking large computing power with low expenditure to run their workloads. IaaS model is also a good option for rapidly growing enterprises that avoid committing to specific hardware or software since their business needs are likely to evolve.
Popular IaaS Services
Major IT companies are offering popular IaaS services that are powering a significant portion of the Internet even without users realizing it.
Amazon EC2: Offers scalable and highly available computing capacity in the cloud. Allows users to develop and deploy applications rapidly without upfront investment in hardware
IBM’s SoftLayer: Cloud computing services offering a series of capabilities, such as computing, networking, security, storage, and so on, to enable faster and reliable application development. The solution features bare-metal, hypervisors, operating systems, database systems, and virtual servers for software developers.
NaviSite: offers application services, hosting, and managed cloud services for IT infrastructure
ComputeNext: the solution empowers internal business groups and development teams with DevOps productivity from a single API.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a service model involves the provision of capabilities that allow users to create their applications using programming languages, tools, services, and libraries owned and distributed by a cloud provider. In this case, the consumer has minimum control over the underlying cloud computing resources such as servers, storage, and operating system. However, the user has significant control over the applications developed and deployed on the PaaS service.
In PaaS, cloud computing is used to provide a platform for consumers to deploy while developing, initializing, implementing, and managing their application. This offering includes a base operating system and a suite of development tools and solutions. PaaS effectively eliminates the needs for consumers to purchase, implement and maintain the computing resources traditionally needed to build useful applications. Some people use the term ‘middleware’ to refer to PaaS model since the offering comfortably sits between SaaS and IaaS.
Features of PaaS
- PaaS service offers a platform for development, tasking, and hosting tools for consumer applications
- PaaS is highly scalable and available
- Offer cost effective and simple way to develop and deploy applications
- Users can focus on developing quality applications without worrying about the underlying IT infrastructure
- Business policy automation
- Many users can access a single development service or tool
- Offers database and web services integration
- Consumers have access to powerful and reliable server software, storage capabilities, operating systems, and information and application backup
- Allows remote teams to collaborate, which improves employee productivity
PaaS Use Cases
Software development companies and other enterprises that want to implement agile development methods can explore PaaS capabilities in their business models. Many PaaS services can be used in application development. PaaS development tools and services are always updated and made available via the Internet to offer a simple way for businesses to develop, test, and prototype their software solutions. Since developers’ productivity is enhanced by allowing remote workers to collaborate, PaaS consumers can rapidly release applications and get feedback for improvement. PaaS has led to the emergence of the API economy in application development.
Popular PaaS Offerings
There exist major PaaS services that are helping organizations to streamline application development. PaaS offering is delivered over the Internet and allows developers to focus more on creating quality and highly functional application while not worrying about the operating system, storage, and other infrastructure.
Google’s App Engine: the solution allows developers to build scalable mobile and web backends in any language in the cloud. Users can bring their own language runtimes, third-party libraries, and frameworks
IBM BlueMix: this PaaS solution from IBM allows developers to avoid vendor lock-in and leverage the flexible and open cloud environment using diverse IBM tools, open technologies, and third-party libraries and frameworks.
Heroku: the solution provides companies with a platform where they can build, deliver, manage, and scale their applications while abstracting and bypassing computing infrastructure hassles
Apache Stratos: this PaaS offering offers enterprise-ready quality service, security, governance, and performance that allows development, modification, deployment, and distribution of applications.
Red Hat’s OpenShift: a container application platform that offers operations and development-centric tools for rapid application development, easy deployment, scalability, and long-term maintenance of applications
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a service model involves the capabilities provided to users by using a cloud vendor’s application hosted and running on a cloud infrastructure. Such applications are conveniently accessible from different platforms and devices through a web browser, a thin client interface, or a program interface. In this model, the end user has minimum control of the underlying cloud-based computing resources, such as servers, operating system, or the application capabilities
SaaS can be described as software licensing and delivery paradigm that features a complete and functional software solutions provided to users on a metered and subscription basis. Since users access the application via browsers or thin client and program interfaces, SaaS makes the host operating system insignificant in the operation of the product. As mentioned, the service is metered. In this case, SaaS customers are billed based on their consumption, while others pay a flat monthly fee.
Features of SaaS
- SaaS providers offer applications via subscription structure
- User transfer the need to develop, install, manage, or upgrade applications to SaaS vendors
- Applications and data is securely stored in the cloud
- SaaS is easily managed from a central location
- Remote serves are deployed to host the application
- Users can access SaaS offering from any location with Internet access
- On-premise hardware failure does not interfere with an application or cause data loss
- Users can reduce or increase use of cloud-based resources depending on their processing and storage needs
- Applications offered via SaaS model are accessible from any location and almost all Internet-enabled devices
SaaS Use Cases
SaaS use case is a typical use case for many companies seeking to benefit from quality application usage without the need to develop, maintain and upgrade the required components. Companies can acquire SaaS solutions for ERP, mail, office applications, collaboration tool, among others. SaaS is also crucial for small companies and startups that wish to launch e-commerce service rapidly but lack the time and resource to develop and maintain the software or buy servers for hosting the platform. SaaS is also used by companies with short-term projects that require collaboration from different members located remotely.
Popular SaaS Services
SaaS offerings are more widespread as compared to IaaS and PaaS. In fact, a majority of consumers use SaaS services without realizing it.
Office365: the cloud-based solution provides productivity software for subscribed consumers. Allows users to access Microsoft Office tools on various platforms, such as Android, MacOS, and Windows, etc.
Box: the SaaS offers secure file storage, sharing, and collaboration from any location and platform
Dropbox: modern application designed for collaboration and for creating, storing, and accessing files, docs, and folders.
Salesforce: the SaaS is among the leading customer relationship management platform that offers a series of capabilities for sales, marketing, service, and more.
Today, cloud computing models have revolutionized the way businesses deploy and manage computing resources and infrastructure. With the advent and evolution of the three major cloud computing models, that it IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, consumers will find a suitable cloud offering that satisfies virtually all IT needs. These models’ capabilities coupled with competition from popular cloud computing service providers will continue availing IT solutions for consumers demanding for availability, enhanced performance, quality services, better coverage, and secure applications.
Consumers should review their business needs and do a cost-benefit analysis to approve the best model for their business. Also, consumers should conduct thorough workload assessment while migrating to a cloud service.