When deciding how to manage your IT infrastructure, you might decide to go with cloud computing. It is often separated into three distinct choices, which is Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service. You might also choose an on-premise solution. Each option has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. We explain each here.
Software-as-a-Service is also known as SaaS. It is one of the most straightforward cloud models to comprehend. Many of us already use SaaS services in one form or another, even if we may not realise it. This is because SaaS is essentially any type of application accessed as a service through the Internet. Almost all email clients are SaaS services. So, if you use Gmail or any other type of web-based email client, you are already using a SaaS service. In addition, it is basically software developed by someone else that you are accessing online through a web browser. Other SaaS examples include:
- Microsoft 365
- Citrix GoToMeeting
- Cisco WebEx
The business benefits of utilising SaaS include having the option to access the service from anywhere, at any time as long as you have an Internet connection. This certainly isn’t the case with off-the-shelf software. You might also already use a SaaS CRM system such as Salesforce.com. In this case, everything is provided to you. So, you don’t have to manage hardware, networking, servers, operating systems, installation or maintenance of the CRM software.
On the other hand,while SaaS is a convenient selection with the lowest up-front costs and least hassle, it is also the least flexible. The reason is because these types of applications are built to meet the general requirements of large groups of people or organisations. You might not find the right SaaS solution for you though because they are not always perfectly suited to a business. As a result, you cannot expect too much customisation.
Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS, is a service where developers have a platform they can use to build applications. From this point of view, you can have your development team create software as opposed to having to use those created by others, such as the case with SaaS. The list of applications you can develop includes websites, social apps, mobile apps and more.
For example, you might use PaaS to create or implement an existing CRM system and host it as an Azure website. Just like SaaS, you don’t have to worry about hardware, networking, servers or operating systems. All of that is managed by your vendor. Also, with PaaS, you get increased flexibility and specificity. However, you do have to develop and install the CRM software.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service, also referred to as IaaS, is the most customisable of the three cloud computing options. The IaaS model is based upon virtualised hardware that is provided by your vendor. This includes virtual server space, bandwidth, IP addresses, network connection and load balancers. With these components, you can then build your own IT platforms.
IaaS is very attractive to the customer who wants to create their own IT solutions. Not to mention, you don’t have to worry about managing the hardware because your cloud provider will take care of that for you. This makes it a cost-effective alternative to an on-premise solution where you need to purchase the hardware yourself. But, you might have to manage the operating system and software. For example, you could create or implement an existing CRM system and host it on an Azure virtual machine.
Popular IaaS services include:
- Amazon Web Service (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Compute Engine (GCE)
When going with a cloud computing option, you can start with SaaS, and the move up to PaaS and/or IaaS when the time comes that you feel you need a more unique system tailored to your business.
An on-premise infrastructure is where you create and install your own equipment. This has the highest upfront costs overall. Not to mention, you have to take care of everything from hardware to software, networking, patching, maintenance, installation, operating systems and more. However, that is also the beauty of it all. You can completely customise it to exactly how you want, which you definitely cannot do with SaaS, and you can only minimally do with PaaS. Even with IaaS, you don’t get to select the hardware. But, if you want something that nobody else has then the on-premise solution is for you.
There are certainly many appealing and fruitful choices when it comes to determining how to design your applications and manage your IT infrastructure. The good news is that there is always something available that fits into your budget. You just have to decide how much flexibility you want based upon your business objectives.