Before your business can adequately take advantage of the opportunities that cloud services offer in infrastructure and application deployment, there is a need to understand the various categories of these cloud services and how each of them can help your business grow. Understanding the fundamental differences between them will help you choose which one would best serve your unique business needs.
The cloud concept is quite broad. All the same, when business leaders talk about cloud computing more often than not, they refer to cloud procurement:
● Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
● Communication as a service (CaaS)
● Platform as a service (PaaS)
● Function as a service (FaaS)
Each of these four models has its own convolutions, essentially removing straightforwardness in the choosing process. As specialists from Bedrock IT point out: ‘Fundamentally, all cloud infrastructure is a collection of servers, storage arrays, routers, switches and such other network paraphernalia. All the cloud services listed above use this network gear. The difference between them is in the abstraction layers that are added to each of them to simplify the management process as well as automate tasks that would otherwise be frustratingly slow or that would need to be manually carried out.’
No cloud platform is perfect. In fact, sometimes the best approach is to discover which one is best as you go. Even in situations where you may decide to write your own platform, you will need a base platform on which to build your own. Therefore, understanding each platform can help you make an informed decision when the time comes to choose.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a service refers to the accessing of infrastructure like storage servers and application servers via the internet. It consists of automated as well as scalable computing resources supplemented by cloud network and storage capabilities. At the core of IaaS is the fact that these cloud resources can be metered and self-provisioned and are available on demand.
By using IaaS, developers are able to create applications as well as their own development platforms. IaaS helps business enterprises access additional resources on the go quickly and efficiently while eliminating the need for incessant purchasing of physical hardware. Cloud vendors that offer IaaS charge on a “pay-as-you-grow” or “pay-as-you-use” basis.
Communication as a service (CaaS)
Put simply, communication as a service refers to a collection of various cloud vendor services that facilitate communication in a business environment. Like any other “as-a-service” model, it is designed to help a company reduce costs as well as improve the efficiency of its business process. CaaS does this by streamlining audio and video communications within the organization.
It also manages all the software and hardware necessary to deliver networking resources and telecommunication services like Instant Messaging (IM), video conferencing capabilities and Voice over IP (VoIP) services. Typically, a CaaS vendor guarantees Quality of Service (QoS) using clearly-defined service level agreements (SLAs). An excellent CaaS solution should also include circuit diversity and redundant switching.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
Platform as a service refers to a computing environment in the cloud that allows developers to rapidly design and develop services and applications over the internet. This model of cloud computing involves third-party providers who deliver software and hardware tools necessary for application development via the internet. This eliminates the need to install software and hardware in-house.
PaaS provides developers with a framework on which they can develop new applications or customize existing ones. It simplifies, speeds up and lowers the costs associated with the process of developing, testing and deploying applications. Using PaaS brings with it all the aspects of the cloud including high availability, scalability and multi-tenancy. Additionally, PaaS significantly reduces the amount of coding needed in application development and automates company policy.
Functions as a service (FaaS)
When Amazon introduced AWS Lambda in 2014, it quickly became a game-changer in the computing world, in what would come to be referred to as the “serverless” craze. Its functions as a service platform would offer lightweight containerized event handling in addition to the virtual cloud infrastructure platform the company was already known for.
Today, many other cloud vendors now offer this cloud service, but Amazon’s AWS Lambda remains one of the most popular. FaaS refers to a framework where developers can build “serverless” functions over containers. While FaaS is similar to PaaS, there is a clear difference: An FaaS user does not see, neither is he billed for a program that is only listening for requests so as to run the needed functions. Furthermore, unlike PaaS, FaaS includes language-specific frameworks.