Cloud Services, What They Are and Why You Might Need Them

Michelle Gram Smith

What are cloud services? Let’s first give a definition of cloud architecture. Cloud computing is an architectural model characterized by dynamic resource allocation. Cloud Computing infrastructures are large data centers that allow the user to have the resources they need (storage, applications, programs, services) according to their needs. In this way, the company can significantly reduce the investment in internal infrastructure to acquire it externally, depending on the needs of the moment.

The resources are not fully configured and implemented by the provider specifically for the user but are allocated to them, from a set of resources shared with other users, which leaves part of the configuration burden to the user. When the user releases the resource, it is reconfigured to its initial state and made available in the shared resource pool.

Cloud computing makes resources available to the user as if they were implemented by “standard” systems (servers or personal devices). The actual implementation of resources is not defined in detail. Indeed, the idea is precise that the implementation is a heterogeneous and distributed set – the cloud – of resources whose characteristics are not known to the user.

Cloud services, here are the main players and the 3 types of services offered

In this definition we can recognize three different actors who interact in the process:

The service provider (cloud provider) who offers the services (virtual servers, storage, complete applications) generally according to a “pay-per-use” model;

The client administrator chooses and configures the services offered by the provider, typically offering added value such as software applications, advanced configurations and customizations;

The end customer that uses the services configured appropriately by the admin customer.

In certain situations, the administrator client and the end client may coincide.

When defining cloud computing architecture, three basic service types for managed cloud computing can be distinguished:

  • infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  • platform as a service (PaaS)
  • software as a service (SaaS)

Service 1: Software as a Service (IaaS)

In this type of service, customers do not pay to own the software but to use it. Access to the software is possible through APIs or often web or REST services. SaaS is a set of resources, services and skills that allows companies to completely outsource certain aspects of their information system (messaging, security, etc.) and replace it with an operating cost rather than a a real investment.

Service 2: Platform as A Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) means the provision of a complete cloud platform to the customer, to which the user has access through a specific distributed framework.

It can be used to write applications to be distributed through a cloud system, whereby the platform scales up or down resources based on demands. PaaS elements allow you to develop, test, deploy and manage business applications without the costs and complexities associated with purchasing, configuring, optimizing and managing core hardware and software. Elements of PaaS can be used to design and develop applications and application services such as team collaboration, web integration, database integration, security and state management. These services can be used as an integrated web-based solution.

Service 3: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a cloud computing model in which virtualized computing resources are delivered over the Internet. It allows businesses to dynamically scale their infrastructure, accessing virtual servers, storage and network resources on demand. IaaS eliminates the need to manage physical infrastructure, reducing costs and allowing businesses to focus on their core businesses.

Cloud Services, How to plan the migration: 2 approach strategies and the advantages of using

The process of approaching the cloud depends on many variables, such as the type of provider to contact (public or private cloud) and the type of service (SaaS, Paas, Iaas). Ultimately, it also depends on how you integrate your internal infrastructure and data management with security and privacy. Despite these variables, two approach strategies can be identified:

  • an internal route, which starts with the creation of a cloud infrastructure and the transfer of existing applications, and then chooses which services to continue to provide internally and for which the public SaaS model is appropriate
  • an external route, which immediately considers experimentation with public SaaS services and then adoption of PaaS services.

In general, the structural approach is that of large companies, because they have the skills to control resources, more restrictive constraints in terms of security and privacy management policies, the financial resources necessary for initial investments , more rigidities, greater architectural complexity and a demand for IT services which requires the exploitation of the economies of scale enabled by the Cloud.

For small businesses or in the case of start-ups, the infrastructure route will be more difficult to implement due to high upfront costs and lack of adequate architectural skills. These companies will likely be attracted to public cloud-type services, through which they can access, in pay-as-you-go mode, solutions that were not previously economically and/or technically accessible. This does not necessarily mean that in the long term the company will save money, but at least in the short term it will be able to access solutions that in the traditional IT model would have been excluded due to very high initial investments and lack of adequate skills.

What are the benefits expected by companies?

  • Reduction in service activation times
  • Reduction of internal management costs
  • Reduction of initial investment
  • Scalability and flexibility

The Cloud has potential that is only fully realized when companies develop a clear vision of the Cloud, both from a technology perspective and a business perspective. The key word is transformation: cloud architecture helps the business keep pace with technological advancements and evolve.

Cloud services, critical aspects and difficulties. But often, they don't choose each other because they don't know each other.

The critical aspects mainly concern security and privacy protection:

  • Where is the data physically stored?
  • Who can access it ?
  • With what rules and guarantees?

Although in reality, the problems highlighted by IT managers mainly concern the difficulty of defining and maintaining SLAs (Service Level Agreements).

At the company level, the biggest difficulty is related to cost forecasting, especially for small businesses with linear growth.

  • Both for network performance and reliability and for ICT providers, as most as-a-service solutions require the availability of broadband internet connection technologies, which guarantee a high level of service.
  • and for the lack of knowledge of the solutions on the part of the user companies: in more than half of the cases of companies that do not use Cloud solutions, non-adoption is linked to the lack of knowledge of the model and the opportunities that he offers.