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Cloud computing delivery models explained

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In my last blog post, I compared cloud computing with the transformation of individual families with cattle farms to a more modern concept of large cattle farms providing consumers milk through stores. In this blog post, I will explain cloud delivery models. In general there are three major delivery models:

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Platform as a service (PaaS)

Software as a service (SaaS)

Let me explain each one in detail, using a scenario of having ice cream for some guests in your home.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

You could buy milk from the grocery shop, add the ingredients, put it in the ice cream maker and after few hours the ice cream would be ready! Here, you bought the basic ingredient (milk) from the store and processed it. Similarly, if you want to host a email service for your company, you could buy “computing power” from a cloud vendor, then install databases and applications to run your email service. So you are buying the basic infrastructure as a service from a cloud vendor. You get the basic infrastructure from the cloud vendor, and it’s up to you to decide what to do with it. Half of the milk that you bought from the shop can be used for ice cream and you could drink the rest. You get the flexibility to do whatever you want! The ice cream is completely up to you.

Platform as a service (PaaS)

For the same set of guests, you could also choose a different approach! You could buy an ice cream mixture which has milk powder and all the other ingredients except water (and the toppings, of course). All you have to do is mix it with water and add it to the ice cream maker. Soon, your ice cream is ready.  Similarly, for your email hosting, you could buy application servers and databases as a service directly from the cloud vendor, and then set up your email service. You save lot of time in installing and configuring the databases and applications. Also, you don’t have to worry about the burden of operating system maintenance. All you have to think about is the email service that you are providing.  Here you got the platform to operate directly from the vendor, as a service—platform as a service. You still have the flexibility to deploy the applications that you want, and the data you want to put in the database. The flexibility is limited, but you saved lot of time and burden. You’re still making the ice cream, but you were able to skip a few steps.

Software as a service (SaaS)

Again for your same guests, you could always just buy ice cream directly from the shop and serve it! This would save you a huge amount of time and effort. Similarly, you can get an email service directly from a cloud vendor, as a service—software as a service. Just start using the service as-is. Here you get less flexibility, because you are bound to what the service provider is giving you (the ice cream is already made; you’re just using it).  However, you saved lot of time and burden in setting up an email service.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. To continue this discussion, comment below or catch me on Twitter @sujpilla.

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