The Cloud Computing Stack

cloud computingCloud computing can be seen as a number of services that are added layer upon layer to form a stack. The three fundamental layers of the stack are IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) at the base, then PaaS (Platform as a Service) above that, and then SaaS (Software as a Service) at the top.

The best analogy I’ve seen to describe the cloud computing stack is to think of it as a transportation system. Visualize IaaS as the road or rail network, an infrastructure that is of no use on its own, but without which you will find it very difficult to deliver your goods. PaaS can be thought of as the delivery trucks or railway trains that deliver your goods, and SaaS as the goods themselves.

The beauty and also dilemma of SharePoint is that it can fit more than one category.

What is SaaS?

SaaS can be described as software available on demand when you subscribe to a cloud service. It’s much like renting software rather than buying it. This differs from traditional method of using software, which is to buy the package and install it on your computer.

There are several advantages to using SaaS:

  • No extra hardware or setup costs because the cloud service provider supplies the computing power to run the applications.
  • You pay for what you use and subscriptions to the service can normally be cancelled at any time.
  • Your usage is scalable, so if you want to add more users or applications, you can provision them on demand.
  • Updates are automated in the cloud, so you can be sure that you are able to use the latest version of all applications.
  • It is accessible from any location via an internet connection.
  • It is compatible with a range of devices including computers and internet-enabled phones or tablets.

What is PaaS?

This layer of cloud computing is a platform that allows developers to build applications and services over the internet to suit their company’s business model. The PaaS provider normally supplies the tools to create software applications. As part of their service, they can provide support and application management.

The main benefits of using PaaS are:-

  • Major cost savings because you don’t need to invest in any physical infrastructure.  You only need to rent the services you need rather than paying for wasted capacity.
  • Development team members in various locations, whether national or global, can work together in the cloud.
  • The service provides you with the flexibility and control over the tools that are installed to create a platform to suit your unique requirements.
  • The security of data, including backup and recovery, is provided.
The SharePoint PaaS SaaS Dilemma

cloud computingIt is not a cut and dried matter of whether you should use SharePoint online as a PaaS or a SaaS. It can be one as much as the other and depends entirely on how you want to use SharePoint. This will obviously vary a great deal from one organization to the next.

You may just want to access “off the shelf” SharePoint applications, in which case a SaaS cloud service will suffice.

On the other hand, your organization may need the flexibility of the PaaS service to enable you to develop applications on the SharePoint platform to suit your needs.

The choice is yours. SharePoint is that flexible and can meet many different needs.

Crow CanyonScott Restivo has worked in the IT industry for over 20 years. A certified systems engineer, with CNE, MCSE, and CCNA designations, he consulted to major corporations and the military …read more

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