This article is part 1 of a new series on cloud computing.
The Growing Diversity of Cloud
An ever-expanding array of cloud applications and services is available. SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and other solutions offer unique opportunities and challenges for businesses. Organizations need to understand this wide range of options and determine which choices fit their needs.
Multiplying XaaS options – Each organization has unique cloud needs, and public-cloud providers are offering a growing range of options to meet them. Although many non-IT focused organizations may use pre-packaged SaaS solutions, others are leveraging more flexible offerings to fully or partially outsource internal infrastructure. IaaS has seen accelerated growth in recent years, with worldwide spending having increased by more than 30% in 2015. PaaS also offers another option for organizations looking for an environment to develop and customize applications.
Although these have been the standard XaaS options for several years, many cloud providers are offering an increasing range of service options. Storage as a Service, Communications as a Service, Network as a Service, and Disaster Recovery as a Service are all now common options for business. Another new service that is expected to increase in popularity in the coming years is Big Data as a Service, with the total big data market projected to reach almost $90 billion by 2021. These offerings allow companies to leverage powerful servers to collect and analyze data more cost efficiently and flexibly than would often be possible in-house.
Public, private and hybrid cloud – XaaS options exist in the realm of the public cloud, wherein many organizations share computing resources in a generic third-party-owned solution. This provides many benefits, such as economies of scale, flexibility, and reduced need for maintenance. However, some organizations find they need to create their own private cloud using proprietary servers. Many use a public deployment option in conjunction with in-house infrastructure in a hybrid cloud configuration. This allows them to take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings of the public cloud for certain applications, while keeping other applications on-premises for compliance or other reasons. This hybrid solution can offer many new opportunities for businesses that can’t fully outsource to the public cloud, allowing them to benefit from cost savings and get products to market faster.
Rising influence of MSPs – Another increasingly important option in the cloud arena is the managed service providers (MSP). These providers let organizations outsource their IT operations, providing security, maintenance, monitoring, and other services. Although these companies began managing servers for organizations remotely, many have grown to offer their own or third-party cloud services to customers. They can provide fully managed hybrid implementations, often including mobile device management. This can offer an attractive solution for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) without the human resources to manage their operations in-house.
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