The Three Basic Cloud Services and How They Can Help Your Business
Desktop applications and large on-premise network resources are out. Cloud services are in, mainly for the cost savings and the numerous advantages they offer for businesses. It’s overwhelming for a new business owner unfamiliar with cloud services to find the right one that matches organizational requirements. Here are the three primary, traditional cloud resources that you can integrate into your IT infrastructure for a reasonable cost.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS is the most common cloud service. Chances are, you’ve used a SaaS service at least once either as a customer or for your business resources. If you’ve ever worked with software that runs in the cloud, you’ve worked with SaaS.
Most desktop software developers have moved their application to the cloud. For instance, Microsoft Office and Adobe Create Suite both run in the cloud. Ten years ago, you needed to buy the software, have it shipped to your office and install it on your desktops. With Office running in the cloud, you don’t need to install anything but basic files to execute the application. Adobe offers the same kind of setup where you install only the components you need to run the software instead of the entire package.
With SaaS, you also have a lower investment to get started. Using Microsoft Office again as the example, you used to spend at least $250 to buy the software and install it on your machine. Now, you can only install the components you want and pay a small monthly fee. You can pay either $99.99 a year or $9.99 to use Microsoft Office in the cloud, which is a much smaller investment for startups on a budget.
PaaS (Platform as a Service)
PaaS is a more advanced infrastructure that many businesses don’t take advantage of, but it offers numerous benefits. A PaaS is any website that provides a full environment hosted in the cloud. The business can run most of its services on a PaaS site, and the provider deals with many of the maintenance and business tasks that would otherwise be necessary for your business to manage.
A good example of PaaS is Salesforce, which many companies integrate into their sales platforms for its flexibility and versatility. You don’t need to mold your sales procedures to fit Salesforce. Instead, you can customize Salesforce to meet your own sales needs. It also offers an API that you can use to integrate the browser version of Salesforce into your backend. You can follow your entire sales procedures on Salesforce, from cold calling to making a sale to managing the customer after the sale, making it a complete platform in the cloud.
PaaS environments are complex but beneficial because it’s complexity that the business no longer needs to manage. Thinking of one cloud application handling all of your business procedures will help you separate a SaaS from a PaaS offering. PaaS is usually more expensive, so this distinction will help you determine your IT budget for cloud software.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
IaaS offers something much different than the previous two cloud services. IaaS extends your existing hardware and integrates it into your local resources. You can get entire network segments that run in the cloud. You can add hard drive storage, routers, servers, and switches to your network and have them run entirely in the cloud.
A good example of IaaS is Google Drive. Google Drive is an affordable way to add storage to your network. It’s cloud storage at a fraction of the cost it would take to install terabyte drives and servers to manage those drives. Google even gives you the first 15GB for free, and you pay as little as $1.99 per month for 100GB up to $99.99 per month for 10TB capacity. It would cost thousands of dollars upfront to host this kind of drive space on your local network.
Finding the Right Service
You can have a small one-office setup and use every cloud service available to run an empire. The services you choose will depend on your budget, but you can run everything you need to manage your business in the cloud. You can start with low-cost monthly services and upgrade as your business grows.
If you need software for your business, PaaS and SaaS are the right cloud services. PaaS is an entire platform environment, so it’s usually more costly but has every feature you need to run each department. Think of IaaS as hardware. If you need to extend your network resources, then you need IaaS.
Prices for these services vary depending on licensing, users, and the number of resources that you need. Check with your cloud provider, because you can spend anywhere from a few dollars a month to several thousands of dollars a month for cloud services.