Cloud Services 101-1: The Basics

Originally published for Averro.com blog and posted on their blog.

Cloud computing (or cloud services) is the new buzz in the world of IT services. The term, which is still pretty nebulous for many users, refers to a model in which computing resources are hosted and delivered via the Internet than can dynamically grow and shrink depending on its demand and you pay only for the actual usage of the service. IT departments do not have to worry about hardware, software, software, data center space, network scalability or any other specialized applications in order for it to work properly. Generally speaking, the term would refer to anything that involves delivery of any service via the Internet.

Types of Services provided via cloud computing

Cloud computing can be used to provide services on a much larger scale than any individual service provider would be able to handle. This is primarily because the resources available would theoretically be without any limits.

Three main types of hosted services would work really well on a cloud computing network. These are:

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Cloud based infrastructure services provide an strong alternative for companies that do not want to invest dollars and time in expensive servers, data centers, software, and networking equipment. Instead, they simply rent a space managed by the client, and pay only for what they consume. Thus it becomes easy for them to manage the expenditure on these services. Examples of this type of services are data storage services (SaaS) , Desktop as a services (DaaS) – or VDI and Communications as a Service (CaaS) – virtual PBX.
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS): This type of service allows clients to build their own applications using a centralized software deployment platform. The positive side of such service is that the clients do not have to worry about dealing with the hassles of setting up hardware and software platforms for development, testing and deploying their applications. The service provider hosts the platform, on which cloud based applications can be launched. The service provider only maintains the platform, and the computers connected to the network provide the resources necessary to run the applications. Some popular examples are Microsoft Azure, Google Apps, and force.com
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS): a service in which software applications are made available over the Internet in a way that a clients can access completely via a web-browser. Some examples of such services would be the ones provided by Salesforce.com, Microsoft Online Service, Microsoft Dynamics, and of course, Google Docs and Gmail.

We will explore the key advantages of cloud-based services in a later posting, but they can be summarized into four areas: Quick and Easy to setup; Significant acquisition and operational cost saving; On-demand scalability; Anytime/Anywhere Access; and Always up-to-date.

Given these advantages, it is not surprising that cloud computing is fast becoming the option of choice for many organizations that need to use web based computing environments for cutting down on investments and building a common, centralized environment for their employees to work on.

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