Cloud Services Definition & Characteristics: A Primer

What is Cloud Computing?

The term cloud computing is often used without a common understanding of its definition. Leading analyst firm Gartner defines it in this way: “Cloud computing is a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ to external customers using Internet Technologies.”
Cloud-based computing is combined with different layers of service offerings, with the expected result of being able to provide value added services, on top of a simple computing platform. For example, cloud-based backup systems rely on shared computer and shared storage services; they do not provide the user with compute resources that can be used for any purpose. Instead, they provide a service that allows a user to store and retrieve copies of documents to/from the cloud. When we aggregate services, with some form of functionality, we are identifying types of cloud services.
Common attributes of cloud computing generally include:
  • Service-based
  • Scalable and Elastic
  • Shared
  • Metered by Use
  • Relies on Internet Technologies and Conventions

Cloud Services Compared 

Now that we’ve defined cloud computing, we should discuss the common types of cloud services which can be a benefit to organizations. Although there are several more types of services, the most commonly offered cloud services include:
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
Cloud service provider offers hardware, storage and networking running a hosted environment in a self-service model.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
A term of art whereby a cloud service provider manages hardware, storage and networking, plus provides support for a component service such as the database or a middleware component.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
A cloud services model that includes the technical hosting and application management, while also embedding the software licensing within the fees. Within this delivery model, end user organizations are generally deployed in a multi-tenant model and lose control for approving change events (e.g. upgrades).
X-as-a-Service (XaaS) 
With the maturation of the cloud, services such as Backup as a Service, Virtual Desktop as a Service, and Database as a Service are all coming to market as viable options for organizations willing to cede control.
To learn more about which cloud service offering is right for you and your organization, download “The Comprehensive Infor Cloud Services Buyer’s Guide.”  Click here to get your copy.