One of the more major innovations the cloud brought with it is the as-a-service model. The combination of traditional IT infrastructure, platform, software and data as well a barrage of other sub-categories with the cloud has a lot to offer to the enterprise – foremost superior offerings almost always aligned with greater cost-efficiency.
Each of the 3 primary members of the as-a-Service family – IaaS, Paas and SaaS – has its own benefits. However scalability is one trait shared by all, starting with IaaS, sometimes also referred to as Hardware as a Service.
IaaS enables a company to outsource IT equipment including servers and networking components to a 3rd party provider, as well as automate otherwise costly in-house administrative tasks, while (usually) paying on a per-use basis. IaaS however is a provisioning model, which offers more flexibility but not as much simplicity as Platform-as-a-Service.
There are several key differences between IaaS and PaaS. PaaS gives companies access Edwin Urrutia to a pre-installed and integrated development environment on a subscription or per-use basis without having to manage the underlying hardware. IaaS offerings do require the enterprise to manage its rented infrastructure, but hence give clients more operational flexibility. Despite their differences however, many experts believe IaaS and PaaS are converging as key industry players begin to see the potential behind a unified cloud offering combining simplicity with flexibility. AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which offers PaaS functionality on top of an IaaS platform, is a key offering in this steady convergence. Microsoft does the exact opposite and offers an IaaS platform over its Azure PaaS platform.
Moving to the third key element of the cloud as-a-Service market, SaaS offerings address a different area than IaaS and PaaS, and can be divided into two main types: Hosted applications such as Google Apps for Business deliver software over the web, and initially reduce software license costs by billing on a per user or business basis. The second type of SaaS offerings however, software on demand, provides a customer access to a single copy of a network-based application specifically created for SaaS distribution.