The Enterprise Cloud Alphabet

December 10, 2015

By Maurice Nagle - Web Editor

From human resources to the help desk, cloud computing is revolutionizing business operations. Firms leveraging the cloud are growing in number, whether it is Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) or Recovery-as-a-Service (RaaS) the sky (no pun intended) is the limit. The enterprise has its head in the cloud, and a software-defined future is almost assured. But what do all of these ‘aaSes’ mean? Let’s take a gander at what the enterprise cloud looks like.

Before digging into the alphabet soup that is the “as-a-Service” world, it is vital to first define what cloud computing is. Specifically, the National Institute of Science and Technology defines cloud computing by five primary characteristics that provides a baseline for cloud services comparison. The key characteristics include: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service. In addition, the definition highlights the three service models as software, platform and infrastructure with the four deployment models being private, community, public and hybrid. 

PaaS provides a firm with a platform to develop, run and manage applications without the headache and complexity of traditional infrastructure. A primary benefit of a PaaS deployment is illustrated in time to market for app development, as because the enterprise can keep its focus on development and innovation not IT headaches. Google (News - Alert) is a tech titan digging into the PaaS provision business, and ServiceNow serves as a good example of an exceptional PaaS offering on the market today.

A good fit for fast pace environments with fluctuating workloads is IaaS. Infrastructure-as-a-Service provides virtualized computing resources via the Internet, making it extremely scalable. IaaS can automate administrative tasks, provide desktop virtualization, offer policy-based services as well as dynamic scaling. A typical use case one may see a company leverage IaaS is in software development. IaaS is a cost-friendly way to host and test applications as it is typically billed on a “pay for what you use” model. Major players in the space include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Engine and IBM (News - Alert)

Gartner defines Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers.” While this may sound simple, wait, it is actually that simple. Deployment is painless via the cloud, and the reason we are seeing so much development in the space are the benefits to the SaaS model. These include easier administration, automatic updates, compatibility for end users and global accessibility.

A point of clarification must be made when discussing the cloud; and that is internal cloud. Most large enterprises want the power of the cloud and control, ownership and security. Platforms like VMware and Open Stack present the enterprise with the opportunity to build their own private cloud. These tools have come a long way in a short time, as the space is seeing maturation in the form of a shift from virtual servers to true cloud service.

While cloud has been a fad for some time now, the whispers are now roars as the enterprise is grabbing hold of this technology with both hands. Whether it is a public, private or hybrid deployment the numbers speak for themselves.

I would say stay tuned, but you know this is only the beginning for the cloud, what it is capable of and its adoption. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle