Cloud Computing Models

There’s a lot of discussion about all sorts of issues related to cloud computing. In a nutshell, cloud computing as a whole encompasses any subscription-based service that offers computing in the cloud, or on the Web, if you prefer that nomenclature. This can include anything from a software application, computing platform or infrastructure solution. There are three major cloud-computing models: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

This new technology seems to be picking up where Web 2.0 left off, and taking it to the next level. The cloud computing space is picking up steam for a few reasons. It costs less to develop and deploy cloud-based solutions. The cloud offers a new level of unprecedented computing accessibility and, as budgets shrink on both personal and business levels, data management is proving to be most efficiently and cost-effectively handled in the cloud.

This will affect Web users and the world of computing in profound ways in the coming years. Namely, computing solutions will become more accessible, and as a result, the Web will become a more powerful and integrative tool for everyday life. The key to understanding this major shift is first understanding the basics of cloud computing. Let’s take a look at the three most popular service models in more detail.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS providers make up one of the largest group of cloud service providers in the industry, mainly because SaaS services are among the easiest to deploy. In a nutshell, as opposed to simply downloading a heavy-duty application to a physical storage device, SaaS providers offer users access to applications on a hosted server. This means either using the application inside a Web browser, or within a lightweight, downloaded application. This can include anything from a customer relationship management (CRM) application to cloud-based music software. In the future, SaaS applications will become more integrated with mobile devices.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

The IaaS model is perhaps the most complex of the cloud computing models. As medium and large enterprise-level organizations used to use dedicated data centers, many are turning to IaaS providers to cut infrastructure-related costs. IaaS is the basis by which all other cloud computing models operate. There are various platforms—including vCloud Director and OpenStack–used to control cloud instances, growing servers and bridging cloud services, IaaS providers offer a pool of resources relating to infrastructural needs – physical servers, virtual servers, load balancers, etc., — from an offsite data center. The customer then downloads all the necessary operating systems, and applications necessary for operation.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS solutions are more geared towards developers. A PaaS provider will furnish the customer with a computing platform that includes an operating system, execution environment and a database and Web server. This is to ensure quick and easy application deployment within the cloud. This also provides a cost-effective way for Web developers to deploy their software solutions without buying or purchasing heavyweight hardware and software solutions usually associated with application deployment.