The Cloud... as-a-Service

Nov 27, 2014 by Alin

During the past few years, the cloud usage has reached far beyond the early adopters (IT departments and software development companies), and shifted towards a variety of industries. Despite its security issues, many companies have started using cloud technologies and services, due to the impressive flexibility and savings options. These cloud services can be placed in 4 major categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service and Unified-Communications-as-a-Service.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

  • Customers have access to physical computers or (usually) virtual machines and to additional resources such as: virtual-machine disk image library, firewalls, software bundles etc.. When a company uses this service, this means that their hardware & networking infrastructure is practically outsourced to a specialized service provider
  • Customers have to install and keep up-to-date the operating systems and other applications
  • The prices usually take into consideration only the amount of resources that are being used
  • Some of the popular IaaS providers are: Amazon AWS, Google Compute Engine, HP Enterprise Converged Infrastructure, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, Rackspace Open Cloud

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

  • Customers have access to a computing platform where the hardware, network and other services (required for various software applications) are maintained by the cloud provider
  • Customers have to manage the installation, configuration and upgrades for the software applications they are using
  • The pricing is usually similar to IaaS, customers paying based on the amounts of resources used
  • Some of the popular PaaS providers: are AppFog, Engine Yard, Caspio, Google App Engine, Heroku, Red Hat OpenShift, Windows Azure

Software as a Service (Saas)

  • This type of cloud service is often called “software on demand”
  • Customers access the application stored in the cloud via a web browser or by using a small, intermediary application
  • Pricing model is represented by a monthly or annually subscription fee
  • Some of the popular SaaS: Google Apps for Work, Office 365, Salesforce, Visual Studio Online

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)

  • Communication and collaborations applications are delivered as a (unified) service and can be accessed via the Internet. This way, companies can fully outsource their communication infrastructure
  • UCaaS is a relatively new type of service which has a slow adoption rate, one of the reasons being the lack of features and providers. However, communication is an important asset for any company, so I expect the interest for this service to greatly improve in the next years
  • Some of the popular UCaaS products: Microsoft Lync, Cisco HCS

Thanks to the recent boom in the cloud market, there were also other types of services that have emerged in the recent years, such as: desktop-as-a-service, network-as-a-service, database-as-a-service, backend-as-a-service, and even pizza-as-a-service :).

Due to the fact that cloud computing is a young business, its service categories are not precisely defined. There are certain services (such as Amazon AWS) which include both IaaS and PaaS. This market has a lot of time to mature, but it already plays an important part in software development & deployment strategies.

What’s your experience with these types of cloud services? Are you using them for software development - and if so, what were your results?

Other article in this series:

How does the cloud fit in your outsourcing agenda?

Tags: Cloud  Future  IT-Trends 


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