Types of Cloud Service Models and Major Cloud Service Providers
Why Cloud Computing?
Globally, businesses are turning towards cloud computing and cloud services. Providers are coming up with innovations leveraging cloud computing to provide tools and technologies. These are, however, not products but services. This trend saw a healthy growth in year 2020. With the COVID–19 pandemic, more and more businesses leveraged cloud services to their advantage. Even essential services, like healthcare and government, are now moving towards cloud adoption. This is all because of the many benefits offered by cloud services.
Cloud removes most disadvantages and causes for concern as regards rapid technological advancement. It essentially eliminates the need for infrastructure. Companies no longer need huge server rooms and IT departments. They can avoid gigantic hardware and upkeep costs by switching to cloud.
Using cloud, companies can focus directly on what matters, i.e. the solutions they want to provide to the world. There are real, tangible, and quantifiable benefits of cloud computing – which are usually classified into three broad categories: flexibility, efficiency, and strategic value.
Organizations gain a lot of advantages due to the flexible nature of cloud. The layers of software and hardware are essentially separated. That is why it offers such flexibility to its user.
This provides many benefits to organizations like:
- Flexibility in choosing toolsets
- Different types of cloud to suit your specific needs
- Options for the level of control you need
Using cloud computing, organizations can forgo the processes of procuring hardware and managing it. This helps organizations to optimize time and budgets.
The advantages of this efficiency are:
- Cost Optimization
- Widespread accessibility
- Faster and more reliable disaster recovery
Cloud computing offers strategic benefits which help organizations to stay ahead in the market.
The key strategic benefits of cloud computing are:
- Saves company’s bandwidth, allowing people to focus on the company’s core processes
- Quicker access to the latest updates and features
- Increased and better collaboration
- Agility in a dynamic market
Types of Cloud Service Models
The rise of cloud computing and increase in the number of organizations adopting its services has led to the development of different models and service types. The needs of the market have become more sophisticated. To match those, cloud computing technologies have matured. Different types of cloud services models can be divided into broad categories based on the flexibility and control offered by them.
For any organization to effectively leverage cloud services, it should know all its types and offerings. There are three major types; Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, offers the basics of cloud computing. It is a way of acquiring computing power on demand through the Internet. It provides access to networking features like virtual private servers, data storage capabilities, and computing capabilities.
IaaS is a no-frills approach to cloud computing. It provides the maximum amount of flexibility and control over your resources. The services are billed based on factors like data storage, processing power used, etc. over a period of time. Some examples of IaaS are Amazon EC2 and Google Cloud Platform.
Platform-as-a-Service model, or PaaS, is used when organizations do not want the hassle of managing their own infrastructure and software development environments. It allows organizations to dive straight into development of applications and their deployment.
A PaaS provider provides the infrastructure (hardware and software) needed to develop applications. This helps organizations to efficiently manage their resources. They do not need to worry about capacity planning, software updates, patching, etc. They can choose their subscription and customize it using the available features. This model offers lesser flexibility and control than IaaS. Some of the major PaaS providers are Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
Software-as-a-Service model, or SaaS, offers end-user applications as products. These applications are operated and managed by the providers. Organizations choosing SaaS want ready-to-use applications which can be deployed on their systems and leveraged from the word “go”.
With SaaS offerings, organizations do not have to worry about infrastructure and architecture of the applications. These are managed by the provider regularly. They are responsible for keeping the application updated. Some examples of SaaS software are Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, DocuSign, and Slack.
Comparison of Major Providers
There are a number of players in today’s cloud market. As the market matured, many niche players came up with services that met very specific needs.
Three companies dominate the cloud market – Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. With an overall share of over 30% of the cloud market, Amazon sits atop everyone else. Microsoft has the USP of various well-designed SaaS software which helps it to maintain and strengthen its hold in the market. Google is particularly dominant in the AI market with its well-developed capabilities in that domain.
Here’s a quick comparison of the major cloud service providers.
|Platforms||Amazon Web Services||Microsoft Azure||Google Cloud Platform|
|Strengths||• Very deep capabilities|
• Largest scope of all providers
• Well-used and mature offerings
• Deep options and features
|• Compatibility with other Microsoft products and tools|
• Provides hybrid cloud
• Supports open source
• Variety of features
• Leader of SaaS
|• Committed to open source |
• Flexible contract
• Pricing and discounts
|Weaknesses||• Difficult to use|
• AWS’s focus on public cloud
• Complex price structure
|• Issues in service experience |
• Issues with technical support
|• Late entrant |
• Fewer features and sophistication
• Weaker enterprise presence
|Pricing||• Difficult-to-understand pricing structure |
• Cost calculation and getting estimates is very difficult due to various variables that can affect cost
• Use of third-party cost management tools is recommended
|• Complicated software licensing options |
• Situation-based discounts make it difficult to understand
• Cost management requires experience
|• Pricing is a point of differentiation |
• Lower prices than other major providers
• Deep discounts
• Flexibility, due to Google’s aggressive approach
The choice of which cloud services to use is a strategic decision dependent on many factors. Flexibility, pricing, ease of use, post sales services, features on offer, etc. – all of these play vital roles in informing the buying decision. All these providers are great in their own right. Your specific need and in-place infrastructure are key to understanding which cloud provider will be the best partner for you.
There are many benefits to cloud computing that any organization can leverage. Cloud providers are increasingly becoming sophisticated in their offerings, providing more options for customization. Everyone can find their own cloud service to match their requirements. With the increasing maturity of the cloud market, the value proposition of cloud services has also increased. Cloud truly is a transformational technology, and it will continue to gain popularity in the foreseeable future.