The 21st Century is offering us a new frontier in computing. We have all heard something of “The Cloud” by now, but as a business person, what do you need to know to keep your organization up-to-date without running the risk of implementing a system you may not fully understand? What are the basics that will help you invest with confidence in your next solution? Here’s our take on What Is Cloud computing for the newly engaged:
What are the 3 main Cloud services?
- SaaS – Software as a Service is the part of Cloud computing accountants will most frequently use. This service is where you can login to your software and use it when you want, usually using a web browser. Also called On-Demand software, the programs you run, like Microsoft Office 365 or your financial software can be accessed through the Internet and you find you can work anywhere, anytime, and off most any device. This is the exciting part of the Cloud—you’re free to design your work routines based on your personal needs.
- PaaS – Platform as a Service is generally that portion of Cloud computing that application developers like Tangicloud take advantage of to offer you the best solutions for your needs. We select the web server (like Microsoft Azure) and operating system and programming language, then package it up in a single solution that you can select for your business.
- IaaS – This is the workhorse of Cloud computing because this is where the foundation for your Cloud experience is set up. You may never have to address this area directly, but the more interested you are in the IT portion of your business, the more you may want to drill down here. IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service, and encompasses such elements and tasks as creating virtual machines, managing data storage in the Cloud, and administering your network capabilities. Normally, IaaS is the purview of Network Architects. IaaS is also usually the foundation for SaaS and PaaS services.
Do I have to go with the Cloud?
While the Cloud is the vision for the future in software development and use, you still have the option of keeping your solution in a more traditional setupor hybrids of these services. The traditional method is called On Premise and operates similarly to solutions you purchased in the past. You’ll invest in your hardware, software, maintenance, and any updates or upgrades with the help of a traditional consulting or internal IT service. When reviewing your options for on premise vs cloud, the advantage of an on-premise solution is segregation of your resources within your brick-and-mortar facility. The disadvantage is maintenance and keeping your software up-to-date.
If I choose a Cloud solution, who owns my data?
Great question! You do. The software is owned by different vendors—you generally are paying a subscription fee for the use of that software. And of course, the servers belong to Network Architects (unless you decide to “self-host” because you have servers and IT specialists who can manage this), but the data you put into the software is all yours. Any reputable service provider should be able to let you know how you can retrieve your organization’s database at any time.
Isn’t it more cost effective to buy my software and machines out-right?
There is a debate over this topic about the point of diminishing returns. With an on premise solution, you’ll pay more up-front, but over time you’ll own the hardware and software outright and won’t have to make more payments than your service agreement for maintenance. With a Cloud, using a subscription agreement, you'll have a lower capital outlay, but you'll be normally paying subscriptions perpetuity. Note, however, that you could choose to purchase your software licenses up-front, and then run them on IaaS server, thus mixing and matching your pricing options.
The biggest benefit of choosing subscription licenses in the Cloud is in the savings you gain from drastically reduced IT costs, plus the assurance that your hardware and software are always up-to-date with complete geographical redundance and data backups. This way you never have to worry about your hard disks dying, or whether you have a data backup in case of disaster.
When you’re ready to move forward into the new advantages of Cloud solutions or stay with an on premise option, do so with confidence. There is a lot of new jargon and new concepts, but with a commitment to the future, you’ll soon find yourself able to converse easily and make the best decisions for your organization.
Want to know more?
Join us for our webinar, "Demystifying the Cloud"
Thursday, August 19, 1:30pm Mountain time