What is the Cloud?
“Cloud” is a much-used IT industry term that means different things to different people. Does it mean Web based applications? Web-hosted services? Centralized server farms and data centers, or platforms for developing and running scalable applications?
In reality, the cloud can be all of these things. And more.
IaaS, Paas, and SaaS: The core of cloud computing
The cloud is about providing services, and the freedom of choice —Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS). Another way to look at it: The cloud is about providing a pool of computing resources that all operate together, effectively as a single computer. The cloud has been called the next logical step in enterprise computing. No longer as much about managing infrastructure, enterprise computing is now more about managing information. It’s about having your storage, your application development environment, your applications, and your security available to you when you need them—all from an information technology grid.
Why consider moving to a cloud model? Why now?
Greater business agility. A cloud model gives you the ability to respond to business demands more effectively and helps ensure employees have on-demand access to critical business information, customers, partners, and each other, using nearly any device, from virtually anywhere. The result: They can give priority to the most critical business tasks first.
Greater resource agility. The management burden of anticipating and building out excess capacity IT infrastructure decreases. The result – less management, maintenance, and deployment time, with the additional benefit of greater scalability to more easily handle peaks in demand.
Managed costs. From a financial perspective, you can manage costs as a capital expense or an operational expense depending on what works best for your business.
Smaller carbon footprint. At the same time, using off-premises IT infrastructure has the additional value of decreasing your environmental impact through a reduction in the physical resources required to run on-premises systems.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is a provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it. The client typically pays on a per-use basis. With IaaS, you can scale with ease and speed to meet the infrastructure needs of your entire organization or individual departments within it, globally or locally.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The Windows Azure platform is a PaaS consisting of an operating system, a fully relational database, and consumable Web-based services that provide security-enhanced connectivity and federated access control for applications. As a family of on-demand services, the Windows Azure platform offers your organization a familiar development experience, on demand scalability, and reduced time to market for your applications.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the internet. Microsoft Online Services are subscription-based, on-demand applications and hosted services, providing your end users with a consistent experience across multiple devices.
To learn more about the cloud in more detail, please view the entire “Microsoft Cloud Services” document, in which a majority of the above information was derived from!
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