It’s time to blow away cloud jargon

Article originally posted in MinuteHack.

Technology is full of inaccessible jargon that sets business owners’ heads scratching. The cloud is no different. It’s time to put all that to bed as we outline five of the most common buzz phrases in cloud computing.

Earlier in the year, an industry study revealed that more than half of all Americans believe storms affect cloud computing. While that’s an amazing statistic, it’s also very telling – and perhaps a sign that we need to start talking about this huge technological movement in a way that’s straight-forward, tangible and accessible.

The same article claimed that, while 54% own up to having never used the cloud, 95% of that same group use it regularly for their banking, shopping, social networking, storage and file sharing without even knowing it.

From co-location to centralised IT, data centres and disaster recovery, to software-as-a-service to shared server hosting, it’s no wonder that businesses are getting lost in the fog when overcomplicating what can – and should – be a relatively simple concept.

“The reason the technology is such a magnet for hyperbole is because, visibly, there’s nothing tangible”

Cloud vendors and the wider industry will often refer to cloud computing as a ‘paradigm shift’ behind the ‘most important development since the PC’ amid other bold, sweeping statements that do little to clarify what the cloud is and what it does.

These aren’t exaggerations – the cloud has slashed costs and improved flexibility – but the reason the technology is such a magnet for hyperbole is because, visibly, there’s nothing tangible. All the information is stored up there … in the cloud.

Having a grasp of these terms and what they mean is becoming a necessity for everyone within the business, regardless of whether you’re a creative or a techy, business owner, or part of the sales team. Here’s our no nonsense, straight-talking translations of the top five cloud computing buzzwords.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service / Platform-as-a-Service / Software-as-a-Service

The holy trinity of cloud computing, these three terms define the foundations of what you or your cloud provider manages. Grasping the difference between them is vital to understanding which best suits your business needs.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Traditionally, if you wanted to run business applications and manage your website yourself, you’d have to buy servers and other expensive hardware in order to control your own IT and make your business run smoothly.

But things have changed. The introduction of IaaS means you can now outsource your hardware needs to someone else, who will rent out all of the off-site server, storage and networking hardware to you which you then access over the internet.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

The second major layer of the cloud is PaaS – what we used to call middleware in the olden days. This differs from IaaS because the cloud provider isn’t only responsible for managing the entire infrastructure, but also for providing an application and development platform.

PaaS opens up a wide variety of solutions to allow you to develop and deploy applications like virtualised servers and operating systems over the internet – saving you money on hardware and making collaboration easier for your scattered workforce.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

And last but not least, SaaS. It’s a way of delivering applications over the internet – as a service. Instead of installing and maintaining the software yourself, you simply access it via the web, freeing yourself up from the complications and costs.

This is the most likely layer you’ll be interacting with already in your everyday life – from Netflix to Dropbox in your free time to the likes of Salesforce and Basecamp at work. SaaS differs from its two counterparts in that the cloud provider manages everything.

Public vs. private cloud

Public cloud

Using shared physical hardware owned and operated by a third-party, this option is the ideal solution for SMEs whose needs fluctuate – computing power can be scaled up and down in the space of minutes in line with your business needs.

By spreading the infrastructure costs across a bigger number of users, costs are slashed and you can take a low-cost, pay-as-you-go approach to managing your IT services. This is a great choice to make sure you’re only paying for what you’re using.

Private cloud

Offering all the same facilities of the public cloud, its private counterpart is a bespoke solution purely dedicated to your business and hosted either on-site or with a service provider. It delivers all the same scalability and efficiency, but is tailored specifically to your business.

It’s a great option for larger businesses or those that need to meet stricter data protection regulation, giving you more control over the security of your data.

Hybrid cloud

But it doesn’t have to simply be a decision between these two. With hybrid, you can combine public and private to produce a solution perfectly matched to you.

By using the public cloud for all your non-sensitive functions and the private cloud for your business-critical operations, you can create a highly flexible, agile and cost-effective solution.

Disruptive technology

There’s no doubt cloud has been a ‘game changer’, a ‘disruptive technology’ changing the face of IT in the business world. From virtualisation – the process of creating a virtual, rather than actual, version of something – to elasticity, where resources can be scaled up and down based on business need, the benefits are clear for all to see.

While the jargon can be confusing, you don’t need to be a Chief Technology Officer to bring your company’s IT into the 21st century. Let’s work to demystify the cloud and get SMEs embracing the transformational effect it can have on a business.

Daniel Keighron-Foster, MD.

SH.ITTBACJ2 S01.27.70.18


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