Cloud computing has always been something that ‘outsiders’ find confusing but it’s supposed to be simple for those in the know. However, the world of cloud computing has become ever more overcast with the continuous rise of aaS’s or ‘as a service’ solutions. Although these acronyms are supposed to easily differentiate what one service provider offers compared to another provider, in reality they confuse matters even further.

With a number of aaS’s to choose from, this blog will explain what each one stands for, what it offers and when it is the right solution. So let’s start at the start with the three main aaS categories – IaaS, PaaS and SaaS – before moving on to the slightly less known aaS’s that are out there.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) sees a third-party provider hosting virtualised computing resources over the Internet. Using a web-based interface, the customer receives processing, storage, networking capabilities and other basic computer resources without managing or controlling the underlying infrastructure. Rather than purchasing software and servers, the user can receive a fully outsourced service and will commonly be billed only for what they use.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is a software licensing and delivery model which provides access to software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. Often referred to as on-demand software, SaaS allows organisations access to business functionality on a monthly fee basis – often cheaper than paying for a license-based application. It can also offer cost savings as the software is remotely hosted, so eliminates the need for the user to buy and install additional hardware.

Derived from SaaS, PaaS (Platform as a Service) is used to provide customers with a platform that allows them to develop, run and manage web applications having to build and maintain the infrastructure. PaaS eliminates the expense and complexity of evaluating, buying, configuring, and managing all the hardware and software needed for these custom-built applications. It is delivered as either a public cloud service from a provider or as software which is then managed by internal IT departments.

DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) is when the user utilises the cloud to replicate and host physical or virtual servers via a third-party – helping to provide failover in the event of a disaster. The implementation of DRaaS eliminates the need for additional investment and maintenance of an off-site disaster recovery system. It can be adapted as the organisation’s needs change but the user must rely upon the service provider to meet the user’s requirements for recovery times and recovery point objectives.

BRaaS (Backup and Recovery as a Service) offers the same peace of mind as DRaaS by providing an alternative to traditional physical media based backup with protection and recovery made easily accessible. Delivered as a fully managed service, BRaaS is securely incorporated into the user’s network to maximise their IT infrastructure whilst ensuring data backup and recovery is available when required.

A relatively recent development in cloud computing, BaaS (Backend as a Service) addresses the cloud-computing needs of web and mobile app developers by providing a unified means of connecting their apps to cloud services. It includes storage, notifications, user and file management, network integration and a number of other backend services which can be integrated into applications with relative ease.

With DBaaS (Database as a Service), the user will not need database experts or administrators as this is all managed by a public or private cloud operator that supports applications. The application team won’t have to assume responsibility for traditional database administration functions, and in theory, the database is able to scale seamlessly whilst being maintained, upgraded and backed-up without any impact on the developer

XaaS (Everything as a Service) is a collective term that stands for a number of things including All as a Service, Anything as a service or Everything as a service. The X in the acronym is a catch-all term that refers to any of the above services listed above that is provided over the Internet via cloud computing.

So the term ‘cloud computing’ is finally in the mainstream, and generally understood by those both inside and outside the industry. But if it is to continue to grow at the same exponential rate, isn’t it high time that we separated our PaaS’s from our DaaS’s and really understood what all these mystifying acronyms actually mean?

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