Cloud computing providers store and process data in a location that’s separate from end users.
Most cloud computing services fall into four broad categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), serverless, and software as a service (SaaS).
These are sometimes called the cloud computing “stack” because they build on top of one another. Knowing what they are and how they’re different makes it easier to accomplish your business goals.
The benefits of cloud computing are changing the landscape of business. In a world where customers demand personalized marketing and instant and impeccable service, it’s fast becoming not just the best way to drive successful and innovative businesses, but the only way.
Cloud computing technology gives users access to storage, files, software, and servers through their internet-connected devices: computers, smartphones, tablets, and wearables.
1. Software as a service (SaaS)
Software as a service is a method for delivering software applications over the Internet, on demand and typically on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure, and handle any maintenance, like software upgrades and security patching. Users connect to the application over the Internet, usually with a web browser on their phone, tablet, or PC.
SaaS provides a complete software solution that you purchase on a pay-as-you-go basis from a cloud service provider. You rent the use of an app for your organization, and your users connect to it over the Internet, usually with a web browser. All of the underlying infrastructure, middleware, app software, and app data are located in the service provider’s data center. The service provider manages the hardware and software, and with the appropriate service agreement, will ensure the availability and the security of the app and your data as well. SaaS allows your organization to get quickly up and running with an app at minimal upfront cost.
SaaS is a form of cloud computing in which users can access software applications without needing to download, install, or store that software and its various components on their devices or hard drive.
Most cloud computing software of this kind is subscription-based with an annual or monthly fee. In return, users get seamless solutions and features without needing hardware, being bogged down by installing updates, or other maintenance tasks.
2. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
The most basic category of cloud computing services. With IaaS, you rent IT infrastructure—servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems—from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis.
It’s ideal for companies that create highly specialized or unique proprietary applications, but don’t want to spend time or other resources buying, storing, setting up, or maintaining the necessary equipment. Instead, they access ready-to-use infrastructure over the internet.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a type of cloud computing service that offers essential compute, storage, and networking resources on demand, on a pay-as-you-go basis. IaaS is one of the four types of cloud services, along with software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and serverless.
Migrating your organization’s infrastructure to an IaaS solution helps you reduce maintenance of on-premises data centers, save money on hardware costs, and gain real-time business insights.
IaaS solutions give you the flexibility to scale your IT resources up and down with demand. They also help you quickly provision new applications and increase the reliability of your underlying infrastructure.
IaaS lets you bypass the cost and complexity of buying and managing physical servers and datacenter infrastructure. Each resource is offered as a separate service component, and you only pay for a particular resource for as long as you need it.
3. Platform as a service (PaaS)
Platform as a service refers to cloud computing services that supply an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. PaaS is designed to make it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps, without worrying about setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network, and databases needed for development.
Businesses use PaaS to create proprietary apps and programs without the need for servers or special testing environments.
The platform’s versatility allows developers to write code in the language of their choice, and it integrates with other cloud computing products that use customer data, which allows companies to track an app’s performance.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing solution that provides developers with an easy-to-use platform to create their own software, web applications, or other programming projects.
Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure — servers, storage, and networking — but also middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems, and more. PaaS is designed to support the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.
PaaS allows you to avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing software licenses, the underlying application infrastructure and middleware, container orchestrators such as Kubernetes, or the development tools and other resources. You manage the applications and services you develop, and the cloud service provider typically manages everything else.
PaaS is a cloud computing service that gives users the ability to develop, launch, and manage apps without having to deal with the infrastructure required for building apps.
Designing an app isn’t easy. User interaction, user experience, graphic design, and development have to be considered. Everyone has to be aware of the app’s purpose and the company’s goals in launching it. That’s where PaaS comes in.
4. Serverless computing
Overlapping with PaaS, serverless computing focuses on building app functionality without spending time continually managing the servers and infrastructure required to do so. The cloud provider handles the setup, capacity planning, and server management for you. Serverless architectures are highly scalable and event-driven, only using resources when a specific function or trigger occurs.
Serverless computing enables developers to build applications faster by eliminating the need for them to manage infrastructure. With serverless applications, the cloud service provider automatically provisions, scales, and manages the infrastructure required to run the code.
In understanding the definition of serverless computing, it’s important to note that servers are still running the code. The serverless name comes from the fact that the tasks associated with infrastructure provisioning and management are invisible to the developer. This approach enables developers to increase their focus on the business logic and deliver more value to the core of the business. Serverless computing helps teams increase their productivity and bring products to market faster, and it allows organizations to better optimize resources and stay focused on innovation.