The different cloud services available to small businesses
Cloud computing isn’t an instant and infallible way of improving your business. While it can reduce IT infrastructure costs, facilitate greater collaboration and improve personal productivity, small businesses still need to be selective about the right cloud computing service.
Here’s a guide to the different types of cloud computing you may encounter when upgrading your software or hardware systems. It’ll help you decide what type of service is the best fit for your operations!
What is cloud computing?
Switching your digital operations to the cloud simply means your enterprise systems, client data and applications can be instantly accessible via an online platform.
Cloud technologies can be used for a variety of business functions, including:
- Storage for client data and operational files. This means anyone in your business can access information whenever needed.
- Secure backup. If you want to keep your documents in-house, the cloud offers a remote site to store vital data in case of an internal system crash or cyber attack.
- Cloud hosting for day-to-day operations. Web services such as Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce are all cloud-deployed, giving business owners and employees better access to information and improved communications ability.
Three types of cloud computing available for small businesses
1) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is the most basic form of cloud computing. It allows you to hire rather than buy physical items such as servers, routers, firewalls and storage. Your chosen cloud computing service provider manages the infrastructure hired, while you configure and integrate all of your own operating systems, middleware, and applications.
This cloud service is typically used for simpler operational requirements, such as:
- Website hosting can be less costly through IaaS than traditional server hosting.
- Storage become easier with the scalable system infrastructure offered by basic cloud computing.
- Backing up operational data is also easier with IaaS.
IaaS presents a number of benefits to Australian small businesses, including:
- A more flexible cost structure means you can easily scale business systems up and down to meet your operational needs.
- IaaS cloud computing offers business owners streamlined business continuity.
- IaaS also reduces a business’ capital expenditure, providing an entirely value-priced technology model.
2) Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS is a term used to describe a hosted environment that includes the supply of operating systems, development tools and hosted services that enable an organisation to develop and host their own cloud applications. This type of platform is generally used by larger organisations with in-house IT staff and developers.
This type of cloud computing is often used for:
- Its development framework is ideal for customising cloud applications. The built-in software components and other features reduces the amount of coding needed.
- Business intelligence analysis. Tools provided through PaaS allow organisations to analyse and mine their data, finding insights predict outcomes to improve product design decisions, forecasting and other operational decisions.
- Scheduling, directory and workflow services, designed to support application building.
PaaS offers numerous benefits for businesses:
- Application development tools, and features such as security support, mean the coding time for new applications is cut drastically.
- Some service providers allow you to develop applications across multiple platforms, including laptops, mobile devices and browsers – again cutting the time and effort required to build new applications.
- This suite of services means it’s easier to support the complete web application life cycle, from building through to updating in the same integrated environment.
3) Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS allows users to integrate data with cloud-based apps. Software is accessible on a pay-as-you-go basis from a cloud service provider, and registered users are able to access applications through any device connected to the internet. All system infrastructure, middleware, app software and data are located in the service provider’s remote data centre.
SaaS is a valuable asset for small businesses because:
- Choosing SaaS means you don’t need to install, update, or maintain any system infrastructure – the entirety of your network is managed remotely by cloud technicians.
- It makes it easier to mobilise your workforce while maintaining operational efficiency.
- SaaS is scalable to your operations, meaning you can add or remove apps whenever you need. This ensures you only pay for what you use.
What cloud service is the best for small businesses?
The degree of your cloud deployment depends on your business needs and future aims. IaaS cloud computing may be flexible and cost-effective for your business today, but will it offer the features needed to facilitate future growth? Similarly, PaaS and SaaS may be too complex if a business is just looking for remote data backup and a new email system.
Biztech’s team offer years of expertise in deploying and managing cloud services for all sorts of organisations across NSW, offering impartial advice about how far you should go. For more information about cloud computing for small businesses, contact Biztech today.