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The three types of cloud platforms

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Our last post examined the top five advantages of using the Cloud, and what it means to your business as well as bottom line. In this blog, we review three various Cloud Deployment Models:

  • Infrastructure as a service,
  • Platform as a service and
  • Software as a service.


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

As its name implies, the IaaS provides the framework, or the foundation, from which all the IT assets and IT resources can be leveraged towards the small business owner and the end user.  This infrastructure, in particular, includes hardware, network connectivity, software applications (which includes for example, all of the VoIP applications, e-mail applications, database applications, software development applications, etc.) and other “raw” tools. 

It should be noted that most IaaS IT assets and IT resources are “virtualized” and bundled in a package so they can be leveraged through the Cloud to the end user or the small business owner.  These virtualized IT assets and IT resources can have the freedom of scalability, customization and demand availability, which are all of course, the crucial components a Cloud Computing Infrastructure needs to have.

By possessing an IaaS Infrastructure, the end user or the small business owner can have total control and responsibility over their particular Cloud Computing Infrastructure.  For example, once an end user or a small business owner signs up for a Cloud Computing Infrastructure account, they are often given access to a control panel from which they can establish the settings, the permissions and the ability to install and uninstall particular Cloud Computing resources.

Every Internet Service Provider gives this tool to all of their customers.  After all, this is the only direct way for the end user or the small business owner to access all of the IT assets and IT resources they are subscribed to.  It should be noted that with the IaaS platform, the end user or the small business owner assumes full administrative control over their cloud-based IT assets and IT resources.


Platform as a Service (PaaS)

The second deployment model for the Cloud Computing Infrastructure is known as “Platform as a Service”, or PaaS for short.  Specifically, it can be defined as “a predefined ‘ready to use’ environment typically comprised of already deployed and configured IT resources.” (Arcitura Education, 2013).

The prime differentiation between the PaaS platform and the IaaS platform is that the latter consists of the raw Cloud Computing Platform.

In other words, the IaaS contains the basic materials needed for the foundation of a Cloud Computing Infrastructure.  Imagine the IaaS platform which serves as the foundation for the Cloud Computing Infrastructure.  The PaaS Platform fills up this foundation with the much-needed IT resources and IT assets in order to fulfill the needs of the end user or the small business owner.

As it can be described, the PaaS consists of a set of prepackaged IT products and IT tools to help support the business needs of the end user. There are many reasons why a consumer should choose the PaaS, but the following are the most typical reasons:

  • Having the sense of scalability,
  • The client can use the ready to use environment, and specifically modify it to their own needs and wants and
  • If the end user or small business owner feels confident enough, they can share their services, through the use of the PaaS, to other cloud consumers. 


Software as a Service (SaaS)

The next Cloud Computing Platform we will look at is the Software as a Service, or SaaS, as eluded to before. 

Specifically, the SaaS model in the Cloud Computing Infrastructure can be defined as “a software program positioned as a shared cloud service and made available as a “product” or general utility which represents the typical profile of a SaaS offering.”  (Arcitura Education, 2013). 

As seen in the definition, the SaaS component of the Cloud Computing Infrastructure can be viewed as a “marketplace” in which the end user can literally cherry-pick the IT assets and the IT resources they need or desire.

At the SaaS level, the small business owner or the end user can pick all of the software packages or bundles they require in order to keep their business running smoothly and to maintain a competitive advantage.  For example, one SaaS offering that is popular is the hosted E-Commerce Store.  With this package, a small business owner can attract many customers. 

Despite all of these advantages of the SaaS, it does have serious limitation.

The end user has very little control over the IT resources and IT assets they have selected from the Software as a Service Platform.  This control is restricted to administrative control, after the IT assets and the IT resources have been selected and paid for.  There is very little that can be done in the way of administration of those IT assets and IT resources which reside in the SaaS.


Overall, this post has looked into three types of platforms that make up a Cloud Infrastructure. In our next blog post, we will examine some of the security threats and risks that the Cloud is exposed to.

Cloud Computing:  Concepts, Technology & Architecture”, Erl, T., Arcitura Education, 2013, p. 65

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