More and more companies are switching their business applications to the cloud because of the convenience it offers. When considering network inventory management, it’s essential to know the difference between Software as a Service (Saas) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Both models have their advantages and disadvantages, and knowing the ins and outs of each will help you pick the right one for your company’s move to the cloud.
When talking about Software as a Service, what we refer to are cloud-based applications that are provided by a third party for your business to take advantage of to be more productive, save time, or what have you. According to 451 Research, IT executives expected 60% of workloads would move to the cloud by 2018 and “41% of all enterprise workloads are running in some type of public or private cloud.” So, as you can see, the move to the cloud by businesses is happening rapidly, and the number of companies large and small expected to move operations to the cloud is only growing.
A SaaS application is generally accessed via a browser and doesn’t have a standalone app you download and run on your system. An excellent example of a SaaS is a company like MailChimp. MailChimp is a service businesses can use to keep customers engaged and informed and is accessed via the web. Dropbox is another example of a SaaS, although they make available an app for download.
One of the significant advantages to a company using SaaS is the lack of need for an IT staff to manage applications downloaded for everyone’s system and ensuring those apps are updated since all of that is handled by the SaaS application via the web. Since you don’t need a dedicated IT staff to manage these applications, companies can save money on personnel or allows your current IT staff to focus on more pressing issues.
Another advantage of SaaS is that the service isn’t locked to your work computer or portable device, but can be accessed from any computer with a web browser anywhere in the world. Also, each member of your staff can have a personalized login and be granted different levels of access if required. And, unlike applications that must be downloaded and managed to your work computers, SaaS applications can be up and running in no time.
So, now that you know what SaaS is, and what are some of its advantages, it’s time to ask: When should you use it?
A SaaS application is ideal for a small business that wants to get up and to run quickly with minimal investment in time and learning. Also, if you’re not ‘technical’ and don’t have a dedicated IT staff to rely on, SaaS makes sense because all the behind-the-scenes stuff is taken care of on their end leaving you to focus on your work and not worry about the system.
Now it’s time to focus on Infrastructure as a Service, which is also growing in popularity among companies both small and large. What IaaS does is deliver the computing infrastructure such as OS, networking, storage, and virtualization through the cloud. An excellent example of IaaS is a cloud-based storage system. The significant advantage of this system is that it allows a business to purchase resources on an as-needed basis and scale it as the business grows without having to buy hardware or software.
For example, if you have a small company that requires several terabytes of storage, you could purchase the hardware yourself or take advantage of a cloud-based service. While you may pay more over time by using the cloud, what you get is the ability to add as much storage as you like without having to keep purchasing and maintain locally based hardware.
Also, since the storage is cloud-based, you don’t have to worry about having an IT support staff to maintain your hardware or worry about the damage that could wipe out your data.
However, storage is only one example of IaaS. Another service that many companies take advantage of is cloud-based networking, which saves companies a lot of money from having to develop, deploy, and maintain their own networks locally.
Another significant advantage to IaaS is how easily it scales as your company’s needs grow. Most of these services have different price points where you purchase only what you need and can upgrade by stepping up to the next level. This allows companies to save money and gain more control over their infrastructure.
So, when should your company consider an IaaS? As with SaaS, IaaS is ideal for small companies that need resources but don’t have the resources or the funds to build their own infrastructure; IaaS allows them to get in the game quickly and inexpensively.
But, large companies can benefit from IaaS too if they want to have control over their infrastructure and have a service that scales quickly as they grow, or downsizes as quickly if the need arises. IaaS is ideal for those companies whose needs change and require something malleable and can change as needed.
Software as Services and Infrastructure as Services are two vital tools any sized company can use to start and grow their business. While most companies just starting up will opt first for SaaS, there’s no reason you can’t use both systems at the same time or incorporate one as your company’s needs grow.
Using cloud-based software and infrastructure is not only a great way to get a business off the ground and run it for little money, but it’s also a great way to maintain it and help it grow by using systems that scale quickly and can be customized to meet your needs.
Lastly, with the sheer variety of both SaaS and IaaS systems available, getting the perfect fit for your business is only a web search or two away.