Cloud computing delivers significant benefits in terms of tangible business metrics such as simplified and flexible IT environment, right sizing of IT requirements, and pay per use consumption model. These benefits are applicable whether the use case is a large enterprise with thousands of employees accessing common business applications or a smaller business accessing office type applications.
These benefits can be summarized as follows:
– Switch over from upfront capital investments (CapEx) into a predictable IT consumption expenses model based on actual usage (OpEx)
– Addition and reduction of extra IT resources based on internal demand with minimum delays, without cumbersome procurement procedures for purchase, leads to agility and flexibility in the market place
– Focusing on challenges of differentiating in the market place with customers and new revenue streams versus challenges of building internal IT skills and managing complicated technology infrastructure
– Taking advantage of scale of cloud economies associated with hundreds of thousands of users and benefiting from the significantly lower cost of delivery of IT services
– Moving away from monolith type IT departments with long standing technology investments associated with technology lock-ins, prolonged lead time for changes, rigid patterns of working, and limited scope of adapting to business change
– Regional and global businesses managing their dispersed IT resources from a central location in a more coherent and planned manner at the time of acquisitions, consolidations, or pure organic expansions
Having established the benefits of cloud computing across the IT and business organisations, end users are often presented with multiple acronyms that categorise how cloud computing platforms are architected and delivered. Each type of cloud service and its delivery method is associated with different levels of control and different levels of end user gains.
There are three main models for architecting cloud computing. Each model represents a different part of the cloud computing stack. Understanding the difference between various forms of cloud computing including Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service, can help end users decide what the right fit is for them.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service that provides access to IT and computing resources on a demand based model. These include server computing, virtual computers, hardware computers, networking, data storage, amongst others. This form of cloud computing provides IT managers the maximum flexibility in managing their resources while maintaining the traditional form of IT administration and audits.
Platforms as a service (PaaS) removes the need for IT organisations to directly manage their underlying technology platforms including hardware and operating systems. It allows them to focus on deployment and management of business applications. With this service, IT managers are less involved in resource procurement, capacity planning, systems maintenance and upgrades.
Software as a Service (SaaS) provides end users with a ready to use business application experience, eliminating their involvement in setting up of the technology platform, hardware infrastructure, and application hosting configuration. This helps business and IT managers focus on matching application features and functionality with internal work requirements.
While the terms IaaS, PaaS, SaaSrelatively describe the constituents inside a cloud offering, how a cloud platform is set up is also important for end users. There are three different ways in which cloud platforms can be built, which can be summarized as follows:
Public Cloud: The public cloud has its services provided over the internet and the customer’s applications are hosted in theservice provider’s premises. Public cloud is hosted and managed by third party service provider, making it simple and efficient to use. The usage of the services in this type of cloud can be regulated according to the number of users in an organization, resulting in minimal cost and as the third party hosts the services, there will be no maintenance cost to the organization.
In other words, the public cloud service has easy access to data and it works on a pay-per use model. Public cloud has proved beneficial to start-ups & small businesses as the services are outsourced from the third party.
Private Cloud: Private cloud is used to provide customized services and technology to specific customers. The private cloud is also known for the secure environment that it creates which is why many organizations seek private cloud. Private clouds can be deployed either in-house or within a service provider data centre.
Hybrid Cloud: An organization can also use a combination of private and public cloud, getting the benefits of both which make the organization’s operations smooth and easy. These types of services where both private and public cloud is used, is called ‘hybrid cloud’. Organizations can reap various benefits of the hybrid cloud, but the most important is the flexibility that a hybrid cloud gives while using it.
For forward looking organisations in the region, getting an understanding of cloud options is important for both IT and business decision makers. Both business and IT decision makers need to leverage the cloud to build differentiation in the marketplace while reducing internal operational complexity.