Believe it or not, the concept of cloud computing has existed for quite a while now, dating as far back as the 90s, when large companies explored ways to make large-scale computing accessible to more users. But cloud, as we know it today, is not just for large companies with unlimited budgets. It is now an accessible, irreplaceable tool for individuals and businesses alike. And as the knowledge about the cloud spread, we get to learn about other terms like Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, respectively).
In this article, we explore what the abovementioned terms are and why it matters to most of us. Simply put, the world we live in now heavily relies on web-based applications as services, and it is vital to differentiate between them. The better we understand these acronyms, the more we’ll be able to apply them in our jobs and even in our daily lives.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
The most prevalent application of cloud computing is Software as a Service, a software distribution model wherein providers hosts applications and makes them available to their clients only through the Internet. If this setup is familiar, it’s because SaaS is one of the most visible application of cloud computing, and is used for many of the internet’s most popular properties – including Dropbox and Evernote. RingCentral, a cloud communications service provider, also offer SaaS to customers looking for a complete business solution under one provider.
Just like how mobile apps transformed how we use smartphones, SaaS applications can greatly impact how you do your business. Let’s take document storage as an example. Businesses, no matter how big or small, would naturally deal with files and paper works. Storing actual physical copies of said files would be a waste of time and resource, so digital copies are now the ones that need to be stored. If you don’t have a spare budget for a file server, you can just get SaaS applications like Box, Dropbox, or even Google Drive to help.
SaaS applications are not only easy to use, they oftentimes have better features and functionalities compared to their offline versions. Since it is hosted in the cloud, you can get other functions integrated, like collaborative editing and review of documents, CRM integration, and more.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS gives companies access to enterprise-level computing hardware through the cloud. A third-party provider like Amazon Web Services, for example, hosts everything you need to run a business including software, hardware, and storage. And as more and more businesses realize the potential of “moving” to the cloud, IaaS providers are stepping up their game, as well. Game developer Zynga, for example, announced that it will offer cloud-based infrastructure to firms in need of an online gaming platform.
The main benefits of IaaS are affordability, scalability, and control. By choosing a virtualized infrastructure from a cloud services provider, a company gains access to robust computing resources at an affordable rate. And if you feel the need to expand your business in the future, you can simply customize your service package from your IaaS provider.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service or PaaS delivers ready-to-use solutions over the Internet. Cloud service providers give users hardware and software tools that they can use on their own, the most common instance is for application development. Benefits-wise, PaaS offers flexibility and high-level functionality at more affordable rates compared to traditional business systems.
RingCentral is also a good example of PaaS provider, offering a full business phone solution as a cloud-based service. RingCentral users can access the same suite of enterprise-quality features, including but not limited to auto attendant, visual voicemail, and call forwarding.
With these information, you can now review your business operations and determine which of these acronyms will suit your business needs.
About the author:
Francis has been writing for more than a decade now, focusing on Digital Marketing in the last couple of years. He is currently in charge of writing web-optimized content for RingCentral, an industry-leading cloud phone systems provider. Francis is also a voracious reader, spending most of his free time immersed on fictional worlds. You can reach him through Twitter.