Most businesses will need to invest in hardware and software to operate day-to-day. This usually involves a large upfront investment, can be time-consuming, complex and can require teams/departments to install, manage and maintain the IT infrastructure. For many small businesses, start-ups, and businesses in industries such as non-for-profit, this is unattainable. However, cloud-based solutions make the needed It infrastructure considerably more accessible for businesses of all sizes.
What is a cloud-based solution?
A cloud-based solution includes on-demand services, storage, applications and other tools and resources that are accessed through an internet connection through a third-party shared cloud computing framework.
Put simply, a cloud-based solution is a tool that allows you to access your data pretty much anywhere, as it is stored across multiple data servers all around the world instead of stored locally on a particular machine/infrastructure.
The different types of cloud services
When deciding which type of cloud-based solution is right for your business, first you must consider the different types of cloud solutions there are for businesses. These can be broken down into four different categories, Software-as-a-service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and Function-as-a-Service (Faas).
Most commonly used, SaaS allows for multiple cloud tenants to have access to a particular application. SaaS applications are normally hosted on a cloud server, so the user does not have to install the application on their device.
Office 365 is a prime example of a SaaS application. Office allows anyone to open an account and then they will be able to access the Microsoft Office products.
SaaS applications are completely managed and maintained by the provider. SaaS can be compared to renting a house. You have access to the house, and you can use it as if you own it, however, the landlord keeps the house maintained and running.
Contrastingly from a SaaS application, PaaS includes physical hardware and the operating system that is needed to deploy and manage the cloud application. Instead of paying for a range of hosted applications, companies pay for the things they need to build their own applications.
This can be compared to renting the tools you need to buy a house, instead of renting a house itself
IaaS is where a company rents the storage and servers they need, as well as offers access to network functions, dedicated hardware, and virtual machines from a cloud provider. These technologies are used to build a base of business operations, as well as a base for other cloud-based solutions and SaaS.
Applications such as Windows Azure and Cisco Meta cloud are two common examples of IaaS providers.
IaaS is like renting a piece of land that will act as a base or foundation of your building. However, you must bring all your own materials and equipment.
FaaS and Serverless computing are often used, incorrectly, interchangeably. FaaS focuses on event-driven programming and is used to execute modular pieces of code, usually in response to an event.
To carry on the house analogy, FaaS can be imagined as if you live in a house, but only have to pay for the part you’re using at that specific time…when you’re not using a room, you do not have to pay for them.
Examples of FaaS include Google Cloud Functions and IBM Cloud Functions.
Our favourite cloud-based solutions
The type of cloud service depends on your business needs, and how you need the service to perform. However, we have listed our favourite cloud-based services that are especially great for small and medium businesses.
- Google hangout
Customer Relationship Management
- Microsoft To Do
- Zoho People