What is a Cloud Service?

Cloud ServiceIf you’ve ever used cloud storage services such as Dropbox or iCloud, you may want to know more about what a cloud service. Cloud computing is a technology used by businesses to save money on infrastructure and human resource costs. Online storage websites are just a small example of a cloud computing category called Software as a Service (SaaS). Other categories include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Cloud services provide networking, data storage and computing resources over the Internet so that businesses and consumers can use only what they need. If a business requires more bandwidth or processing power in a particular month, the cloud service can be scaled up to accommodate the temporary increase in demand. When they don’t need the extra resources anymore, the service can be scaled back down to previous levels.

Most businesses use the SaaS model to launch applications in a Web browser when needed. SaaS applications can include software for messaging, database management, accounting, online collaboration, human resource management and many other applications. Businesses involved in developing software use the PaaS model to develop, test and deploy applications without the cost of building and maintaining a server.

What Do the Different Cloud Service Models Provide?

The IaaS model, such as the type Amazon uses, provides the most basic level of computing resources by allowing users to install any operating system and software they choose on a virtual server. The IaaS cloud service takes care of the hardware maintenance, networking and infrastructure, while the client manages the software. These services are used to provide telecommunication service using Voice over IP, billed as a computing utility on an as-needed basis.

The PaaS model, according to Google’s Developer Academy,¬†is relatively new and provides hosting, a development framework and debugging tools for businesses to develop software without running a full-time server they might not always need. Removing the need to set up and administer a server frees developers from one of the biggest distractions from creating their software. Because the PaaS model takes care of server installation and maintenance, it typically costs more than IaaS computing.

SaaS is mostly used by businesses, although any software that runs over the Internet can be considered SaaS. Any email service, Web application, online file converter, game, bookmarking app or storage website provides cloud services. While most of these applications are free, they make money through advertising or selling premium services, so the cost of using them is somewhat different than with IaaS or PaaS.

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What Are Scalable Cloud Hosting Services?

Many cloud services offer scalable solutions to consumers for needs such as Web hosting. When you subscribe to a scalable cloud Web-hosting service, you typically set up a virtual private server (VPS) that automatically scales up or down as your resource requirements fluctuate. This model can be useful for websites that receive seasonal traffic, such as Christmas decoration sellers.

The various cloud services each offer a different level of abstraction by hiding a number of administrative layers from the user. IaaS hides the hardware and infrastructure layers, PaaS hides the operating system and server layers, and SaaS hides everything but the applications themselves. When thinking about what is a cloud service, consider the amount of work you would have to do to install and maintain these services across multiple computers.