What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing, often referred to as simply “the cloud,” is the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis. In general cloud computing services provide:

  • Elastic resources, so you can scale up or down quickly and easily to meet demand.
  • Metered service, so you only pay for what you use.
  • Self service, so companies can manage their resources directly or with the help of managed service providers.

There are three different models of pay-per-use services that any organization interested in Cloud Computing should understand:

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a service provides companies with computing resources including servers, networking, storage and data center space on a pay-per-use basis.

Who would benefit from an IaaS solution:
  • An organization that would like to keep control of the actual infrastructure its operating systems and business applications are running on. For IaaS implementations either companies should manage their IaaS deployments or enlist the help of professional managed service providers to control and maintain it.
  • A company that likes flexibility and total control.
  • Companies that want to establish a private, public or hybrid cloud presence.

PaaS – Platform as a Service

Platform as a service provides a cloud-based environment with everything required to support the complete lifecycle of building and delivering web-based (cloud) applications but without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software, provisioning and hosting.

Who would benefit from an PaaS solution:
  • An organization that would like to forget about infrastructure and concentrate in delivering applications to multiple platforms and devices.
  • Developers that do not have a lot of experience in pre-existing tools and languages and are open to code in-browser in a “building-block” fashion.
  • Companies that can afford to run their solution 100% off-premises.

SaaS – Software as a Service

Cloud-based applications—or software as a service—run on distant computers “in the cloud” that are owned and operated by others and that connect to users’ computers via the Internet and, usually, a web browser.

Who would benefit from an SaaS solution:
  • Companies that require an specific software solution but do not want or need to interact with the underlying hardware or software. A great example of these applications is our hosted Microsoft Exchange® service and IBM Blueworks Live among others.
  • Organizations that can afford downtime in their internet connectivity that would prevent them to access the SaaS applications their company use. SaaS applications require a permanent and stable internet connection to operate. Mission critical healthcare, banking or manufacturing applications should not be implemented in a SaaS model.

How will my company benefit from cloud?

Based on each type of cloud solution the main benefits are:

The benefits of IaaS are:
  • No need to invest in your own hardware, avoiding the long procurement efforts, maintenance and cost of ownership.
  • Infrastructure scales on demand to support dynamic workloads, with on-premises infrastructure you are stuck with what you own.
  • Flexible services available on demand, so IT organizations can test the latest in technology without the risks of a huge investment.

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The benefits of PaaS are:
  • Develop applications and get to market faster, don’t worry about anything below your app (OS, HW, SW, Telco, etc).
  • Deploy new web applications to the cloud in minutes, you develop IN the cloud.
  • Reduce complexity with middleware as a service, you can get the best application server ready to go.

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The benefits of SaaS are:
  • You can sign up and rapidly start using business apps.
  • Apps and data are accessible from any connected computer.
  • No data is lost if your computer breaks, as data is in the cloud.
  • The service is able to dynamically scale to usage needs.

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What aspects are key when implementing a cloud initiative?

According to each type of implementation companies need to be on the look-out for:

In IaaS some key aspects to look for are:
  • Avoid yearly or multi-yearly commitments. Hardware, software and networking evolution and upgrade cycles are much shorter than that. By maintaining a short-term commitment at competitive prices, your company keeps its maneuverability and ability to exploit faster innovation.
  • The physical location of a datacenter matters a lot for the actual performance of a cloud implementation. An IaaS provider should offer a world-wide network of datacenters, that could segment data availability seamlessly among different geographies.
  • Cloud infrastructure is not always virtual. If you need raw performance, virtual machines will simply not make the cut. I you want to handle your infrastructure at the hypervisor level, you can’t go virtual. Your IaaS provider should offer bare-metal machines.
  • You should be allowed to mix in your own virtual private cloud workloads of virtual machines and bare-metal machines.
  • There should be a clear and detailed understanding of the underlying network topology in your cloud. If you have control, use it.
  • When combining presence in multiple datacenters of an IaaS provider with scattered geographies, bandwidth plays a huge role, you should not be charged for in-network traffic.
In PaaS some key aspects to look for are:
  • Your PaaS provider should be open built on top of open technologies and for open technologies.
  • Your PaaS platform should embrace third party services, and allow you to build your own.
  • A PaaS platform should utilize the API economy to connect to other services.
  • Services like VPN IPSEC connectivity to the PaaS infrastructure are a must.
  • Your PaaS supplier should offer their super-compute power to open the usage of cognitive applications.
In SaaS some key aspects to look for are:
  • Your SaaS provider should offer both Test and Production environments for your applications.
  • VPN IPSec connectivity for on-premise users should exist with the SaaS provider.
  • Identity management and user directory integration is a must in any SaaS solution.
  • Test thoughtfully stability, reliability and performance of  the solution before you commit.

How can you help us with our cloud initiative?

Our experience will be very valuable in various aspects of an organization’s cloud implementation journey

Private, public and hybrid cloud design

Private, public and hybrid cloud implementation

IBM Cloud – SoftLayer Proof of Concept architecture and advisory

What tooling and infrastructure do you use?

Among other tools and technologies our team uses the following toolset for each Cloud implementation type:

For IaaS:
  • SoftLayer public and private infrastructure.
  • Juniper firewall and routing for physical IPSec VPN connectivity.
  • NSX, Brocade vRouter or Juniper vSRX for SDN VPNs.
For PaaS:
  • IBM Bluemix.
  • IBM VPN services for Bluemix.
For SaaS:
  • We build custom sized solution on top of SoftLayer IaaS to meet customer SaaS demands that usually beat the pricing and requirements of established SaaS offerings.
  • Depending on the product or solution we might provide IBM SaaS services.

Frequently asked questions:

Is IaaS only for large scale enterprises?

Not at all. Small and mid-size business would benefit greatly from the implementation of a hybrid cloud strategy with their workloads running on an solid IaaS platform. Match the hybrid cloud with a powerful MSP offering and the companies have unprecedented flexibility and ability to deliver and innovate.

All all private, public or hybrid cloud implementations large?

No. We might start a hybrid cloud implementation with only a couple of hypervisors and a single node networking appliance to offer firewall and routing capabilities.
The solutions can vary in size and specifications in accordance with the customer objectives.

Do I need to pick IaaS or PaaS or SaaS?

No, with laser focus detail we can help enterprises locate the right mix of solutions to meet their desired objectives, time-frame and budget.

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