The cloud has been talked about lots during the past year, with it becoming vital while to many businesses’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many businesses have been increasing their adoption of cloud services as part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has enabled some businesses to expand their capacity to cope with the rapid increase in demand, while for others it has been adopted as an easier way of sharing information, without having to manage the servers normally needed for the task.
When we refer to “the cloud” we commonly mean Cloud Computing. This is where you do not own the physical computers or storage, instead you rent computing power and/or storage. This has the benefit of outsourcing the maintenance associated with physical servers, while allowing you to pay only for the computing resources you use.
There are a few main categories of cloud computing services. In this post we’ll focus on two of the main categories of cloud services you can use; Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
Software as a Service
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a model where you are provided with a cloud-based service, along with all the software you need to make use of the service. Examples of this are Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace services. These commonly provide communication and productivity software, which is combined with cloud-based storage to make sure files are accessible anywhere and can be easily shared.
The ability to share information easily between local and remote employees, became invaluable to businesses as they started to increase the number of remote (work from home) employees. In April, Microsoft Teams reached the milestone of 145 million daily users. This was likely boosted by many businesses moving entirely to cloud services, or increasing their adoption of cloud services.
Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is where more technical services are provided, such as a databases and web hosting. Examples of this are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. This model is often used when companies produce or operate their own software (such as a mobile app or a website) and need a place to store data and run an API to allow the app to function.
Moving the data and infrastructure to cloud services allows a company to quickly expand the computing resources available (usually called scaling up) to meet surges in the number of users. When demand drops, a business can then reduce the resources they are using too. This flexibility reduces costs since you only pay for the computing resources you need or reserve at the time, rather than the costs of running and supporting your own servers.
These advantages have encouraged a 32% growth to Amazon’s cloud computing platform during the first quarter of 2021.
Trying to describe “the cloud” can be difficult and quickly become full of acronyms. However, it is effectively outsourcing the management of some part of your IT operations. This could range from emails and file storage to server infrastructure you can manage remotely.
This has the advantage of moving the complicated bit to be managed by someone else, but it also increases your vulnerability to cloud service outages. Using cloud services presents the opportunity to increase the flexibility of your business or reduce costs, but it also carries its own set of risks.