What is Cloud Computing?
Simply put, cloud computing is renting (vs. buying) IT services over the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing options. These IT solutions, formerly in-house IT departments, give business owners digital access to various resources and products to help their organizations operate successfully, including but not limited to:
- Development tools
- Business applications
- Networking solutions
- Data storage
The Definition of Cloud Computing
To further paint the picture for you, Oxford describes cloud computing as “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.” If you’re familiar with Dropbox or Google Drive, you’re familiar with cloud computing. Those platforms offer cloud computing services through data storage. But how do all of the different cloud computing services differ?
Types of Cloud Computing
Now, to answer that question, let’s get into the specifics. There are three different types of cloud computing services:
The SaaS (Software as a Service) Model
SaaS is a distribution model where a third-party provider hosts pre-built applications on their servers, making them available to customers over the internet. The term for SaaS most often used is “web services,” and what’s especially beneficial about these web services is that a business can access their SaaS applications from any location. All they need is solid internet connection on either a computer or cell phone. After that? You’re good to go.
Examples: Fuuz MES and other apps, Microsoft 365
The PaaS (Platform as a Service) Model
Now, for a complete cloud development and deployment model, you’ve got the PaaS model. Here, users can access development tools offered by the cloud providers using APIs, web portals or getaway software. This model is most commonly used for general software development, and a benefit that many PaaS providers offer is that they can host your newly developed software on their servers (vs. yours) after it’s launched.
Examples: Fuuz Platform; Salesforce’s Lightning Platform
The IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) Model
Lastly, the IaaS providers are the ones who supply users with a virtual server for storage and app programming interfaces (APIs), allowing users to migrate their workloads to an outside virtual machine (VM). As you can guess, users have limits as far as storage capacity but can manipulate their VM as desired. An easier way to picture and understand IaaS models is knowing this: They’re remote data storage centers for business people.
What’s the difference between IaaS and PaaS, you may be asking? The difference is that in IaaS, the infrastructure is already built, while PaaS is a platform that allows developers to build apps – without actually having to host them.
Example: Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Traditionally, the services we’ve talked about here have been performed by an on-premises IT department, but if you’ve found yourself in a situation where the cost and complexity of your business’s data center is requiring solutions and storage at greater levels than you’ve ever experienced before, it may be time to consider the advantages of cloud computing. And there are definitely advantages that will provide you with the agility to grow.
• Lower IT Costs
Cloud gives you a way to eliminate expenses and offload costs. The effort of purchasing, installing, configuring (and re-configuring), not to mention managing your own on-site IT infrastructure, can be avoided. As a business owner, you’ll have the ability to purchase resources on an as-needed basis, so you’re only paying for what you’re actually using.
• Greater Speeds
With cloud computing, you can improve the agility and time-to-value within your business, instantly creating space for development, testing and automation. After onboarding, you can deploy and utilize enterprise applications in minutes, instead of waiting extended periods of time for IT to respond to a request. This also is a powerful way to empower certain users – perhaps developers or analysts – to use cloud computing in their day-to-day work activities, cutting out the middleman.
Scale more easily and, again, cost-effectively through the elasticity that the cloud provides. Instead of purchasing too much capacity that can go unused during down periods, you have the ability to scale up and scale down resources in response to peaks and lows in your industry’s traffic timeline.
• Increasing Employee Productivity
Investing in cloud computing solutions is also known to increase real-time collaboration between departments, support bring-your-own-device practices, and reduce downtime due to IT issues.
• Fostering Innovation
Another benefit for cloud computing customers, and arguably the most important, is the easy access to our world’s latest innovations within the technology world. With the right provider, customers can leverage modern cloud computing architecture to do all the items mentioned above: lower costs, move faster, scale, increase productivity and so on.
We are now in an era where business owners can take control of their operations in a more tangible, realistic way than ever before by leveraging the abundance of data to gain predictive insights that ultimately improve their businesses and drive customer acquisition.
Is Cloud Computing Right for My Business?
As you can see, every cloud computing model is different and supplies different customizable advantages to your business. However, diving into infrastructure reorganization can be overwhelming, and it’s important to know what brings the most value to your company. What are your priorities? To have wider control of your operations? To hold the ability for customization? Eliminate liability? Simply put, convenience? All of these are legitimate factors to consider.
Once you’ve made your decision, you’ll need to find the right vendors that complement your company’s culture while developing solutions to your complex operational problems. For our team, that means working closely with your company as a partner who understands your unique needs.
You can use SaaS apps like Manufacturing Execution and Warehouse Management to monitor, track, document and control your manufacturing processes, from the time a raw material enters your facility until it leaves as a finished product. Pre-built connectors make it easy to integrate your ERP, payroll, homegrown apps and other software you use every day, while PaaS tools give you ultimate control over your UI and the ability to develop custom apps fast – often in as little as five minutes!