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Cloud Service Models — Choose the Right One for Your Organisation

Technology

Apr 7, 2021 - 6 minutes read

1572 Blog Cloud Service Models 416X300
Rafał Imielski Content Marketing Specialist

He has two years’ experience in copywriting, translation and proofreading. His goal is to help people communicate in a concise and understandable way. Rafał is an archaeology graduate who’s fascinated by both prehistoric and modern technologies. 

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In recent years, we’ve seen a significant growth of the cloud computing market, and this trend is predicted to accelerate even further in the near future. More and more companies are noticing the great possibilities that cloud services have to offer. Start-ups and small businesses can benefit from the easier market entry and the ability to fail fast and cheap. Meanwhile, larger organisations can make use of the flexible pricing models, scalability as well as the multiple optimisations that the cloud can help them introduce.

Cloud Computing in Today’s Business

Cloud computing services are based on the delivery of resources and services to the user on demand over the Internet. The scope of what exactly is provided depends on the selected cloud service model and the provider — it can be limited to just servers and computing power, but it can also include much more than that. Cloud computing surged in popularity because it provides immense opportunities to rapidly developing businesses. These services reduce the required initial investment, are scalable, and allow you to pay only for what you’re actually using.

Almost any modern business can use this technology to its advantage. The key is to know exactly what your company needs are. There are multiple different cloud computing service models available in the market, and the providers keep coming up with more. In this article, we’re going to describe the most popular models of cloud services so you can determine which one would be best at meeting your organisation’s needs.

“As a Service” in IT

The phrase “-as a service”, or the abbreviated version “-aaS” can be often seen in the offerings of various cloud providers. It’s a good summary of the idea behind cloud computing and the way it’s used in business. Instead of buying your own machines, software or other important elements of the setup, you get access to them in a subscription-based form.

SaaS — Software as a Service

Software as a Service, or simply SaaS, can grant you quick and convenient access to web applications hosted in the cloud. The software is designed, maintained and run by the provider, so everything is taken care of. One of the major advantages of this model is the fact that, as the end user, you don’t even have to install the applications on your devices.

These services are incredibly easy to implement in every organisation, they’re instantly ready to use and there’s not much setup required. Moreover, they’re easy to access — you can use them on many different computers and mobile devices.

On the other hand, there are some limitations and potential pitfalls of the overreliance on SaaS. The customisation options are often quite limited. If you need an additional feature, you have to hope that the provider adds it at some point in time. In the case of more sophisticated apps, you may also encounter issues regarding interoperability and integration with existing systems. Vendor lock-in can also prove to be a problem — the road to becoming a customer is always very short and straightforward but exiting may be more difficult. Finally, the comfort of having everything done by the provider comes with an overall lack of control over data security, performance of the app and its downtime.

Examples of SaaS

Microsoft Office 365 – a subscription-based application suite that provides users with access to the newest versions of the Microsoft tools with the possibility to access them from a browser, without the need to install the applications on your device. It also provides storage space in the cloud.

Google Workspace – a group of software tools to support collaboration, communication and workflow management. They can also be easily accessed via browsers. Similarly to the previous example, it’s the idea of continuously providing businesses with multiple useful apps in a convenient package.

PaaS — Platform as a Service

In the Platform as a Service model, the vendor provides servers, storage, databases, virtual machines, operating systems and a set of tools to develop and deploy applications. As the name suggests, PaaS can offer you a complete platform for building your own software. At the same time, it still comes with all the advantages of every cloud computing service model, such as flexibility, scalability and the distribution of investment costs over time. When compared to the traditional setup, PaaS also streamlines the development and management of your apps.

Most of PaaS’s downsides are related to integrating the platforms with other solutions, which can be especially difficult in the case of legacy systems. They may require major configuration effort or even special integration tools. Moreover, when compared to non-cloud solutions, the amount of operational control is significantly reduced. Your teams may have to limit themselves to the tools and technologies provided or supported by the vendor. As with most cloud services, vendor lock-in can also become an issue.

Examples of PaaS

Azure App Service – a fully managed platform that’s designed for the quick development and deployment of web and mobile apps. It supports building in many different programming languages and provides access to multiple Microsoft development tools.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk – a platform created to support application deployment and management. It provides many helpful tools and can streamline performance monitoring and quality assurance.

IaaS — Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service is a great way of acquiring computing resources such as servers, storage and other hardware. In this service model, the user is responsible for operational systems, applications and data. IaaS gives the client the most freedom, but it also provides a relatively narrow scope of services.

It’s the perfect model for an organisation that doesn’t want to invest in its own infrastructure but aims to retain as much control over the processes as possible. The IaaS model can provide high scalability which makes it a great choice for rapidly growing companies. When compared to the other cloud service models that we covered, it’s also much less prone to issues related to vendor lock-in and integration.

The most significant downsides of this model are related to the amount of internal resources and competences that have to be covered by the user. This is especially noticeable in the security and operational support domains. While IaaS offers the user greater control, it’s still not the same as having on-premise servers. This need to rely on a third-party provider may cause further security issues.

Examples of IaaS

AWS EC2 — a scalable service that provides computing power and cloud storage. It supports multiple operating systems and gives you a wide choice of machines that are built with components produced by different manufacturers.

Digital Ocean Droplets — Digital Ocean was one of the first companies to succeed as an IaaS provider. Droplets are the most basic services in their offer — they provide basic infrastructure with a lot of freedom for the users to set up the server stack.

FaaS — Function as a Service

Function as a Service model utilises serverless architecture to provide convenient and cost-effective tools for software developers. It allows you to coordinate responses for specific events that will be executed without the need to provision or manage servers. The user can focus solely on writing code and delivering business logic, all the remaining aspects and processes are taken care of by the vendor.

The payment model is very customer-friendly, as you’re only billed for the function execution time, instead of paying for idle time or getting charged with a fixed subscription. Moreover, this cloud computing service model has incredible scaling capabilities. FaaS can not only scale indefinitely, it also does so automatically, as it adjusts to the user’s needs.

At the same time, the aspects surrounding security and quality assurance are covered by the provider, and the user has a very limited amount of control over them. Vendor lock-in can also be a problem.

Examples of FaaS

AWS Lambda – a serverless service that enables the users to run code without the need to set up and provision servers. It takes care of integrations and the management of the computing resources necessary to execute specific tasks. FaaS supports a variety of programming languages and automatically allocates the computing power required to execute the specific tasks.

Azure Functions – another event-driven serverless service that supports multiple programming languages and hosting options. It has immense scalability and integration capabilities.

Summary

Of course, these four are just some of the most prominent examples of cloud service models. There are multiple other “as-a-service” options, and new ones keep being introduced. It’s important to keep an eye on these possibilities, as they’re shaping the current IT market. The value brought by the flexibility and scalability of cloud services is unparalleled for rapidly growing organisations. If you want to learn more about how cloud computing can be applied in your organisation, check out our cloud services offer.

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Rafał Imielski Content Marketing Specialist

He has two years’ experience in copywriting, translation and proofreading. His goal is to help people communicate in a concise and understandable way. Rafał is an archaeology graduate who’s fascinated by both prehistoric and modern technologies. 

See all Rafał's posts

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