A rapidly evolving business climate is producing new innovations and creative business models constantly. The days of heavy upfront capital investments to establish a business enterprise may be on the way out. The Cloud is making this a reality.
Software as a service (SaaS) is one of the most exciting areas of growth and development in this fast-paced environment. The ability to offer useful services to customers without staffing and maintaining a large, expensive IT department can be a big advantage. Even some services with high upfront capital investment requirements such as the printing business are accessible through the advent of abilities like this best web to print solution in the Cloud.
One approach to better understanding what the Cloud provides is to look at the most common applications being offered to businesses today. While the list of Cloud computing services and features continues to grow, the most common services can be roughly classified into three areas. These include Software as a service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS). As the names imply these are designed to be used as services rather than as products. Behind those services, however, there are very real pieces of hardware and resources.
Software As A Service
Early in the advent of computing technology, most companies had to invest heavily in computing hardware such as PCs, servers and disk storage systems. The evolution and proliferation of business computing eventually made it a profitable business model to build large infrastructure systems and essentially lease out the use of that hardware and some components of the software.
Software as a service is simply an example of that model. For example, if a large insurance company needs to make specific software programs available to its employees, it can purchase the use of those specific programs from the Cloud. This allows the insurance company to focus on core competencies and relieves them of the need to develop and maintain their own IT departments. This is the most comprehensive version of Cloud computing in which all required support services and software are managed by the Cloud and the customer, the insurance company, in this case, has only the need to log in and use the programs.
Infrastructure As A Service
This service supports companies and entrepreneurs that primarily develop and sell software applications. These kinds of businesses want and need the ability to manage more of the computing resources required by their business models. In this instance of Cloud services, management of more of the underlying enabling computing resources remains accessible to the company using the Cloud. An advantage of this approach is that the Cloud can accommodate rapid growth. The Cloud can provide additional needed resources immediately if the volume of business increase demands more computing power. Purchasing, installing and setting up this hardware on-premises would delay delivery in servicing customers.
Platform As A Service
This version of Cloud computing lies somewhere between SaaS and IaaS. In it, the Cloud customer maintains management responsibility for the minimal amount of resources required to provide services to their customers. Most often, these include the applications and data associated with fulfilling customer orders. Like the previous model, this version meets the need for scalability of services without requiring investment in physical computing resources and the time required to install and bring them into service.
Cloud computing is enabling smaller organizations to enter the marketplace by removing the hurdle of capital-intensive investments in computing resources. Companies with viable business models can now focus their resources on developing and delivering what they do best, leaving the underlying complexity of enabling technology to Cloud companies that specialize in that role.