There are three main cloud computing service models available. Depending on your needs, your business can use one of these, or a mixture of two or even all three.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is the most common form of cloud computing used by small businesses and involves using software hosted on remote servers. It allows you to run applications through your web browser and save, retrieve or share files that are stored 'outside' your business.
Examples of SaaS include services such as:
- web-based email
- office software
- customer relationship management systems
- tools that support collaborative working
SaaS provides greater flexibility when compared to conventional IT systems, allowing you to scale your IT requirements quickly and easily to meet the changing needs of your business. See more on advantages of SaaS for business.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS allows businesses to use virtual hardware resources to build their IT infrastructure. This includes:
- server space
- data storage facilities
- networking hardware
As with SaaS, you can modify or expand capacity as required. Other benefits include a reduction in your IT costs - by outsourcing your hardware requirements you no longer need to buy it or have the internal expertise to maintain it. Read about computer hardware for business.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS involves using online application development capabilities to build and adapt applications to suit your business needs. The software development tools and hardware you need to do this - known as 'cloudware' - are all located remotely and accessed through the web.