Cloud. The hottest buzzword in today’s IT takes on numerous forms, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) – but what does it all actually mean? How do you know if you need a full blown IaaS solution versus a targeted SaaS solution? And how do all these “…as a Services” translate into the public, private, and hybrid models? Most importantly, what solution/model will optimize your organization’s IT workload?
For IT professionals, cloud solutions enable IT to realize rapid adoption, flexibility, scalability, and security while reducing overall costs. Through our ongoing “Simplifying Cloud” series, we’ll breakdown these complex topics into smaller, more digestible chunks and how IT professionals can leverage its benefits to boost business processes.
Cloud Spans the Globe
According to the November 2014 Cisco Global Cloud Index, “76% of all data center traffic will come from the cloud.” This is a significant increase from 2013’s 54% of total datacenter traffic coming from the cloud. Subsequently, as cloud workloads increase, datacenter workloads will decrease – Cisco predicts a +25% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in cloud hardware, while traditional on-premise datacenter hardware will experience a -2% CAGR decrease.
To further demonstrate the cloud’s global ubiquity, the report illustrates significant growth in global cloud instances:
- Middle East and Africa region – 54% CAGR
- Central and Eastern Europe – 39% CAGR
- Asia Pacific – 37% CAGR
Cloud Models Are Flexible
In today’s enterprise IT, organizations require a menu of options to best address their unique business needs. Alongside the more defined cloud services of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are the more general cloud concepts of Public, Private, and Hybrid cloud. We’ll go into more detail of each service/model in future articles, but let’s use the below image to present a high-level overview of each area’s specialty:
Infrastructure as a Service is the closest cloud service to the traditional datacenter, and as such is the likeliest candidate to function as a Private or Hybrid model, depending on the existing on-premise infrastructure of the customer and if they want to migrate all workloads to the cloud or maintain a set of personally managed hardware. However, the company’s IT does not need to concern itself with the hardware; rather, the cloud service provider supplies the hardware. IT manages everything in red, while the cloud provider manages the grey.
In short: IaaS = Host
Platform as a Service provides significant flexibility for organizations to develop, test, deploy, collaborate, and host applications. Think of it like doodling on a sheet of paper – it doesn’t matter if the paper you draw on is construction paper, loose-leaf paper, or computer paper, all that matters is that you have a medium to draw on.
In short: PaaS = Develop
Software as a Service – Forbes’ insight into the aforementioned Cisco report indicates SaaS workloads will grow exponentially through 2018, while IaaS and PaaS will observe steady decreases in growth rate, yet continue to grow nonetheless:
- SaaS instances in 2013 – 41% | SaaS instances in 2018 – 59%
- IaaS instances in 2013 – 44% | IaaS instances in 2018 – 28%
- PaaS Instances in 2013 – 13% | PaaS instances in 2018 – 15%
This dichotomy is not surprising – why concern yourself with maintaining the infrastructure when all you need is to use specific software. Facebook, Hubspot, and Outlook are all SaaS solutions – you’re simply using the application that a cloud provider hosts, no fuss!
In short: SaaS = Consume
Cloud is Economical and Scalable
As outlined in the above section, cloud is designed to be highly scalable depending on your needs. For instance, if you own an e-commerce site that experiences significant traffic increase during the holiday seasons, you can either contact your cloud provider to boost performance, or set-up automatic allocation of resources based on your defined criteria. Similar to paying your electric bill where you pay a subscription fee for your usage, the cloud operates on a utility consumption model where you pay for what you use.
Often, we worry that in order to achieve the most affordable price on a product, the quality will decrease to reflect this price drop. This isn’t necessarily the case with cloud providers, as more subscriptions is integral to supporting these massive datacenters versus higher rates. Furthermore, their SLA of 99.95% uptime availability and round-the-clock service health monitoring has demonstrated to 57% of Fortune 500 companies the reliability of cloud services.