We’ve all heard the commercials and every vendor’s sales campaigns.  Is cloud computing a possibility for your business? It all depends on your architecture, environment and how prepared you are as a business.  If you’re not prepared, it can be painful and extremely disruptive.  If you are prepared, you can release the chains and give yourself some freedom and continue to operate very effectively.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

First, you have to understand that there are variations of cloud computing.  One you may have heard is Software as a Service (SaaS).  SaaS’ approach is that you do not have to buy the licensing and core software as an item or product; rather, your SaaS provider includes it as part of their cloud solution for you.  When there are updates, your SaaS provider performs those updates.  When there is troubleshooting that is required, the SaaS vendor helps perform those efforts as well.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Another variation is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).  IaaS is a pay as you use approach.  When you are using a cloud software product, such as Microsoft Word, your meter is running.  When you log off, your meter stops.  You are only billed for the time expended using the product.  Think of it like this.  When you turn on a light at your home, your electric meter spins a little faster.  When you turn off the light, your electric meter slows down.  Well, at least for the energy consumed for that light in question.  I wish turning off a light would stop my meter all together, but that’s an argument for another day.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

Lastly, there is Platform as a Service (PaaS).  PaaS includes your provider performing everything for you in the cloud.  Servers, services, software etc., it’s all inclusive like a Sandal’s resort.  Think of this approach as your technology folks now working at the data center.   Instead of them physically being at your office to perform your technology functions, they now never come to your office; rather, they are working at the cloud site.

While the three options of cloud computing above are distinctive, it is possible to engage a provider in a mix and match of these services to bundle up to one or two hybrid packages.  If available, SaaS might be right for one piece of software and PaaS might be better for other services.  Also, remember that deploying these services does not generally eliminate your in-house/outsourced technology team.  Some approaches will reduce time significantly; some will reduce just a little. Work with your technology provider to decide which package (s) will work best for your business and fit your needs.

Are you ready for the almighty cloud?

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