Today, cloud computing has become a mainstream technology, with many different types of cloud computing to choose from. An astounding 94% of businesses are estimated to use at least one cloud service, according to the latest State of Cloud report.
And yet, the capacity for cloud growth remains exponential, with a study commissioned by IBM reporting only 20% of enterprise workloads currently running in the cloud. With only the most basic workloads migrated, enterprises still have a long way to go to begin their cloud journey. With 80% of enterprise workloads still running on-premises, their migration would represent a potential quadrupling of the current cloud market.
Despite the maturity of the cloud market, many enterprises are still unaware of the cloud computing services and delivery models available. New cloud products and services are coming to market almost daily, driven by constant innovation from technology leaders like Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
To help you navigate the complexities of cloud computing, we'll take an in-depth look at the types of cloud computing available. We'll also highlight some of the most popular cloud services, including some emerging technologies that are gaining traction.
What are the main types of cloud computing?
At the highest level, cloud computing is delivered through a combination of service and delivery models. Within each of these cloud delivery models, there are three types of cloud computing and as a service -aaS offerings to choose from.
Let's examine these in detail.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Platform as a Service (PaaS) Software as a Service (SaaS) Everything as a Service (XaaS)
There are three main models for cloud computing services - Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service. Each service model represents a different part of the cloud computing stack and includes its own unique division of responsibility between you and the service provider. Within each cloud computing service model, there are 100 different cloud service options to choose from - which we'll cover later in the post. First, let's take a closer look at the three main service models.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the service model that forms the basis for your cloud technology deployment. An IaaS provider gives you on-demand access to key IT resources such as computers (virtual or dedicated hardware), networks and storage over the Internet.
IaaS gives you access to a flexible, state-of-the-art hardware resource that can scale to meet the processing and storage needs of your business. You use this infrastructure to deliver your organization's applications, software and platforms - free from the responsibility of managing and maintaining them.
A typical example of an IaaS deployment combines virtual machines and storage disks. Each element is customized to your organization's needs, whether it's the server operating system or the size of the storage capacity.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is the cloud service model where you get access to combined hardware and software tools through a service provider. PaaS is most commonly used for application development.
A PaaS provider gives you access to the combined cloud infrastructure needed for application development - databases, middleware, operating systems, servers - without the underlying complexity of management. As a result, you can become more efficient. Instead of spending time installing and configuring infrastructure, you instead focus exclusively on developing, running and managing applications.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) is the cloud service model that gives you access to a ready-made software product that is operated and managed by the service provider. Most SaaS solutions are typically end-user applications.
When you access your chosen software with a SaaS model, you can focus solely on how to best use that software. The SaaS provider is responsible for deploying, maintaining and updating the software - including the underlying infrastructure.
A common SaaS example is a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution. You store and manage all your contacts through CRM without having to update the software to the latest version or maintain the server and operating system that runs the software.
The traditional pillars of the cloud service model - IaaS, PaaS, SaaS - have grown over the years to include such a wide range of additional offerings that we are now entering an era of Everything as a Service.
Let's take a look at that for a moment.
Everything as a Service (XaaS)
The acronym XaaS, also known as "Anything as a Service," is a general term that encompasses the wide range of products, tools and technologies that are as new and popular as service offerings.
The explosion of these new services - and the acronyms associated with them - has reached such a level that there are now -aas directories simply to keep track of them. Each of these iterations of cloud service models is a potential multi-billion dollar industry in its own right. The most popular services include Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS), and Unified Communications as a Service (UaaS).