How cloud computing works

There are 3 main types of cloud computing service models available, commonly known as:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Depending on your needs, your business could use one of these service models, or a mixture of the 3.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is the most common form of cloud computing for small businesses. You can access internet-hosted software applications using a browser, rather than traditional applications stored on your own PC or server. The software application host is responsible for controlling and maintaining the application, including software updates and settings. You, as a user, have limited control over the application and configuration settings.

A typical example of a SaaS is a web-based mail service or customer relationship management system.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS typically means buying or renting your computer power and disk space from an external service provider. This option allows you access through a private network or over the internet. The service provider maintains the physical computer hardware including CPU processing, memory, data storage and network connectivity.

Examples of an IaaS include Amazon EC2, Rackspace and Windows Azure.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS can be described as a crossover of both SaaS and IaaS. Essentially you rent the hardware, operating systems, storage and network capacity that IaaS provides, as well as the software servers and application environments. PaaS offers you more control over the technical aspects of your computing setup and the ability to customise to suit your needs.

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