Friday, November 12, 2010

Cloud computing Part – I

SaaS, PaaS, IaaS

It’s been quite long time, we are hearing about the buzz surrounded by cloud computing and its true potential. No doubt, it is clearly a game changer from business perspective. It allows the economy of scale. There are various vendors embraced cloud computing in different architectural styles and based on different business models. The cloud providers mainly categorized under the following types based on the segment or stack they are operating. Cloud computing is broken down to three segments like software, platform, infra structure.

SaaS ( Software as a service ): This is the topmost layer in a cloud stack. In this layer typically the software is provided as service to the end user. We can think of any on premise software available to the end user over the web and the end user instead purchasing the software he is paying cost per month based on the usage of the software. In this case the traditional way of owning and purchasing of software will fade off. This is what truly called as “utility computing” and “pay as you use” model. This disruptive model helps in reducing the initial capital investment for hardware ( capex ) and operational (opex ) cost. At the end of the day the user just pays for what he uses like we pay bills for electricity. The best example of SaaS vendor is which was pioneered this business model and they are truly leader in SaaS offering. Currently there are mushrooms of vendors offering SaaS applications for various needs. The cloud of companies which provides SaaS offering for end user are Salesforce , ZOHO, Net Suite, BOX.Net , DropBox, Taleo etc.

PaaS ( Platform as a service ): PaaS offers a development platform for developers. The PaaS vendors provide necessary tools for developing applications. There are vendors provide various technology stack built on to their platform. So once you choose PaaS vendor then the end user has locked down with the same platform. The best example of PaaS is’s Force platform. Which allows to build applications and host on the force platforms. These vendors offering are unique. They provide the high level tools for users, who can build applications with much knowledge of programming. This makes small companies to adopt IT without really having army of developers to build their applications. OrangeScape one of Indian PaaS provider provides cross platform solutions on all the cloud offerings such as Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, Amazon WS.

The disadvantage of PaaS is the vendor lock in. The application is completely built on the PaaS vendor software stack however the scenario is going to change. In future vendor will enhance their offering to cater different platform stacks.

There PaaS solutions can be categorized in to the following platforms based on their solutions :

1. Social application platforms

2. Web application platforms

3. Business application platform

Social applications : Face Book emerged as platform for social applications. Face book provides platform and tool on which developers can build and extend the social applications.

Web Applications : There are lot of vendors provide the basic web platform on which developer can build their web applications. Google provides lot of tools and apis for building applications.

Business Applications : The best example is from SalesForce. This provides one of the best integrated platform for business application developers.

Iaas ( Infrastructure as a Service ): The third category in the cloud computing is called Infrastructure as service.

Iaas delivers the raw computing for developers to build their application with all the freedom that used to be there while building traditional applications. They can choose the entire software and hardware stack which they wish to deploy for the application. All the big vendors like IBM, Amazon , Microsoft, Google provides IaaS solutions. The user can buy the infrastructure based on the demand on “Pay and Use” mode. In this class of computing the user has the entire control on the various instances which are running in the runtime so that the users know how to effectively control various processes. The issues in this kind of platform model is, the managing and monitoring these processes will be challenging and vendors do need administrative staff for managing and monitoring these complex processes.

The kind of cloud computing to choose from based on the customer business model and business requirement. The more granularity of cloud we need the deeper we need to go. Definitley IaaS is not for end users.

There are certain class of business problems well be suited for IaaS kind of offering. Before cloud computing hit the main stream adoption there was lot of entry barrier for startup vendors compared to the established players though they have better technology in hand. For example, if a customer wants to start a social application platform, he has to worry about upfront hardware cost and all the associated data center cost. Typically startups will not have that kind of investment. But due to cloud computing the whole game has been changed. These customers easily setup their applications on the cloud from day one and thanks to virtualization technology, the infrastructure can scale on demand. The customer is just paying what are the services he is going to use for not an upfront huge cost.

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