Cloud computing is a booming enterprise. One recent financial report from Gartner projects worldwide revenues for all Cloud computing applications to grow from $209.2 billion in 2016 to $246.8 billion in 2017, an increase of nearly 18%. Of that figure, Cloud infrastructure services, or infrastructure as a service (IaaS), will grow the most. Cloud application services, more commonly known as software as a service (SaaS), should also increase, although they may not see as much growth as IaaS. The same is true for Cloud-based development platforms, or platform as a service (PaaS) offerings.
While it’s easy to see that those growth predictions bode well for the Cloud computing industry, it may not be as easy to recognize the practical effects of that growth for your business. This article will remove that confusion to help you understand what Cloud computing is and, more importantly, how its applications intersect with your workplace.
The Fundamentals of Cloud Computing
Eric Griffith of PCMag calls Cloud computing a “metaphor for the internet.” Just as the internet gives users access to millions of pages and resources that they wouldn’t have otherwise, Cloud computing gives users access to software, platforms, and infrastructures that they normally couldn’t support internally.
Yet despite all the good Cloud computing can do for a company, it can also be hard to navigate, particularly when IT professionals start talking in acronyms like SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. The different services blur together, making it difficult to distinguish which one accomplishes what.
Fortunately, once you grasp the basics, it’s easier to understand the different offerings. IaaS solutions, for instance, give businesses the most control while mitigating problems around networking and storage management. Vendors who offer PaaS, on the other hand, provide and manage platforms that businesses iterate upon to create products, solutions, and services. And SaaS requires little—if any—maintenance work to be used in a business environment; these solutions come ready for use. Each option has its own unique set of strengths and can fulfill different areas of business needs.
Here’s a closer look at the uses and benefits of each type of Cloud service.
IaaS, or infrastructure as a service, provides virtual computing space, storage, and resources through a host like Frontier Business. This type of Cloud computing is in a growth spurt due to the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI), business intelligence (BI) analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Cloud-based products—all of which require large amounts of storage space and computational power.
IaaS can provide that space and power, helping to create what’s known as “infinite scalability.” With these kinds of Cloud applications, businesses can more easily scale infrastructure up or down to meet demands at an effective price point. The infrastructure comes as a service, meaning you can increase or decrease infrastructure as needed, without building out internal servers for storage and support.
PaaS solutions can bring a lot of value to companies with software development needs. With it, businesses receive a platform that can be used to accomplish a few aims. Some companies use the platform as is, integrating inbuilt functionality with existing products, solutions, or services. Other companies build on the PaaS platforms to create new products or add value to current offerings.
Businesses pay for PaaS solutions, usually on a subscription basis, and receive access to the platform via the internet. Many business owners like PaaS applications because they can cut research and development costs, and get products to market quicker. Those perks are part of why PaaS solutions have experienced phenomenal growth in the past few years.
Many business owners are already familiar with SaaS solutions—once they understand what they are, that is. SaaS refers to nearly any Cloud-based software that can be used on a computer or connected device. As such, these solutions see a lot of use in homes and businesses around the world. People use SaaS tools like Evernote and Google Docs every day to store notes or collaborate on work documents.
In the business world, SaaS applications have a lot of appeal for three specific areas: human resources, customer service, and finance. Human capital management (HCM) applications enable businesses to better hire, train, and develop employees. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools have been around for a while, facilitating improved customer communications, service, and experiences. Financial applications are another growing SaaS segment, which makes sense considering the rise of BI analytics and the push for operational efficiency.
When used correctly, Cloud computing applications can help you create or improve products and services, meet the ebb and flow of customer demand, and even decrease operational costs. With results like that, Cloud computing likely will grow in dollars and use not only this year but also for years to come.