Using cloud-based online services for a fee can be cheaper than purchasing our own software and hardware. Moreover, we don’t have to worry about maintenance and updates.
The problem is providers keep piling suggestions into our inboxes using abbreviations we don’t understand (or can’t remember what they mean).
We decided it would be handy to define the most popular cloud acronyms in one place. So what exactly are DaaS, IaaS, SaaS, DRaaS and ASP doing in your inbox?
Let’s Start by ‘Demistifying’ the Cloud
The term ’cloud’ refers to empty space between the user and the provider. Although both parties use real hardware and software connected across the internet. These cloud system resources provide data storage and computing power.
Cloud increasingly features in promotions for data centres serving multiple users. Again, there’s nothing cloudlike about these. They are rock-solid buildings with military grade security, sharing resources enabling their clients to keep going despite crashes and hacks.
There’s a distinct move way from using cloud resources merely as Plans B though. Companies are attracted to the idea of reducing IT infrastructure costs, and being up and running much faster with new systems.
Clouds are Not Infallible; You Still Need a Plan B Though
It’s important to mention at this stage that cloud providers are not infallible. They use similar servers and systems as you and we do, and they could crash too. Therefore, it’s a wise precaution to back up critical data to at least two other secure sites.
That said, there are many advantages to signing up to DaaS, IaaS, SaaS, DRaaS and ASP on a cloud. Why spend money on hardware and software you may never use fully, when cloud allows you to pay as you go and stores your data.
Infrastructures as a Service – IaaS
Extreme weather events like huge storms and surges increase the possibility of private server rooms going offline for periods. Moreover, increasingly sophisticated hacking and ransomware are becoming increasingly costly to counter.
You may only need a laptop and a set of logins if you go the IaaS route. That’s because you could run your systems on ‘virtual’ servers, networks and storage without bothering about cooling and battery racks.
This could provide you with enterprise-level reliability, security and redundancy while saving real money too. However, again another word of warning: Never delegate your data storage to someone you don’t completely trust.
Example IaaS Providers: Microsoft Azure IaaS, AWS (Amazon)
Desktop as a Service – DaaS
DaaS is a step away from more expensive IaaS that provides the whole nine yards of servers, networks and storage. Instead, it simply provides back-end services otherwise obtainable from application software.
However you still have your hardware redundancy, disaster recovery, and automated backups. This option should deliver a significant financial saving compared to IaaS we just discussed.
There’s a further aspect you might like to consider when comparing the two. It’s a lot easier to move data from one cloud to another cloud than find replacement servers, networks and storage. Both have their advantages. Your own circumstances are the decider.
Example DaaS Providers: Citrix, AWS Workspaces
Software as a Service – SaaS
Software as a Service is ideal for users who want to access their data remotely by internet or mobile. You rent the right to use a piece of application software, and your SaaS service provider stores your data.
You don’t have to worry about software licences and software updates. This is a great improvement over single-use products that won’t allow you access from another network.
Beyond that, you’re on your own when it comes to system backup and redundancy. SaaS is just that, a piece of software on a cloud. Speak to your provider. They may offer additional security measures too.
Example SaaS Providers: Adobe Creative Crowd, Google G Suite
Disaster Recovery as a Service – DraaS
Some sources refer to DraaS as Recovery as a Service (RaaS) but it’s essentially the same thing. Both protect your data and applications from being disrupted by disaster by enabling complete recovery from their cloud.
Being able to restore from a remote source may be faster than getting your applications productive again. This can be the right solution for small to medium businesses unable to afford their own in-house recovery plans.
DRaaS becomes especially attractive to businesses in multi-tenanted buildings and therefore lacking full control over their premises. Read service level agreements carefully when comparing providers.
Example DRaaS Providers: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Helion, Veritas Continuity
Application Service Provider – ASP
Application Service Providers deliver custom-built applications to niche users. These meet the needs of small businesses unable to afford the cost of developing own applications.
ASP’s fully own their software applications they maintain and operate on their own servers. Their clients interface with them over the internet in exchange for per-use / monthly / annual fees.
However application services also have their downsides. Clients must accept the model provided, and may have problems integrating the data into their own systems.
Example ASP Providers: QuickBooks Online, Salesforce CRM
Choosing and Managing the Right Cloud Provider
It’s extremely important to choose the right cloud provider, since they are unlikely to be just down your street where you could drop in. It’s still essential to have a Plan B secure somewhere else, because disasters may happen on cloud servers too.
Negotiate an acceptable service level agreement, or move on if they can’t commit to maintaining your mission critical systems. Ask to see their uptime reports, and compare with others before you lock in.
Avoid being caught by a provider’s bespoke software that only downloads data as a spread sheet, or in undecipherable code. Ask for proof of what they provide. By the law of averages you won’t be with them forever.
Finally, do interrogate their levels of security on the cloud, including access to their physical server rooms. A quality provider may cost you a bit more, but you may be grateful the day you call for a backup.