The term “cloud-based services” covers a vast array of services that a provider offers to a customer via the internet. Cloud-based services are available by subscription, where the customer pays on a monthly or annual basis. This plan eliminates not only the need for a customer to purchase and maintain hardware or support server and network infrastructure but also software licensing costs. That means that a customer can, in essence, rent the needed applications and cancel or change the services whenever it is convenient for them to do so.
There are a variety of different services available. Most business needs are met by one of these three:
SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS applications represent the largest and fastest growing of the cloud-based services platform. SaaS applications are created and managed by a third-party vendor while customers have access to data via an interface. Customers of SaaS platforms can access their services on any device via the internet. Popular SaaS applications include email services, educational apps, healthcare apps, collaboration, and customer relations management. Adagio Cloud is a SaaS application.
Google Apps, Salesforce, Workday, Concur, Citrix GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Blackboard, Headmaster, and Adagio Cloud are all examples of SaaS applications.
PaaS (Platform as a Service)
With PaaS, developers gain a platform to build, customize, or develop existing applications. Developers manage their applications entirely, making testing and launching cost-effective and straightforward, without the need to write endless code. A third-party provider manages OSes, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking.
Acquia Cloud, Amazon AWS, App42, AppAgile, AppFog, AppHarbor, Apprenda, Jelastic, and Mendix are all popular PaaS providers.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
IaaS is also known as Cloud infrastructure services. These services put more management ability in the hands of the customer. These are self-service models that allow the customer to access, monitor and manage remote datacenter infrastructures. Providers manage virtualization, servers, hard drives, storage, and networking. Customers manage their applications, data, runtime, and middleware. Just like an electric bill, IaaS services are purchased based on usage.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), and Joyent are some of the more popular examples of IaaS providers.
Information technology services are being developed and delivered to individuals and business customers at an astounding rate. Keeping up with the latest in technological advances requires at least cursory knowledge of cloud-based services and their uses. As understanding of cloud technology grows, users expand their horizons and continuously discover new ways of using an endless variety of applications.