The way IT has changed the way we do business is a testament to the creative innovation and intelligence that we are capable of achieving and have yet to discover. With each new development, IT has transformed how a business provides service and how they develop. IT has not only increased computing efficiency, but also the efficiency of the workplace. One of the latest IT frontiers that has been playing a big role in the shift from how traditional business applications are programmed and services are delivered is cloud computing.
Although some could argue that the concept of cloud computing has been in existence for years, what users associate with the idea of a “cloud” platform is the flexibility and application accessibility from multiple devices, and that is relatively new, and it is exciting.
The Information Technology Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards has published a draft working definition and starts off with a broad top-level definition:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
Cloud computing offers three different layers that each offer specific services for IT systems. When getting started, it’s important to understand the differences in functionality to make an informed decision on which would best serve your company:
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a Web browser.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Ability to deploy consumer-created applications using programming languages and tools supported by the provider onto the cloud infrastructure.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Provides processing and storage capabilities, networks, and other fundamental computing resources. Consumer is able to deploy and run software, which can include operating systems and applications, and has control over storage and possibly select networking components. ReliaCloud, an enterprise-class IT IaaS cloud solution, is available through VISI, which provides scalability and high performance data management for use in public, private, and hybrid cloud configurations.
Cloud computing has multiple layers and different models that might require further clarification as to how each one would benefit you. We have put together a white paper on cloud computing that explains its many components and goes into detail about evaluation criteria to verify that the solution you select meets your particular needs.