I did a ‘Bing’ search earlier, not a ‘Google’ search (being a Microsoft partner we naturally love all things Microsoft), so what did I search? I sense you asking. I searched for types of cloud and I ended up on the Met Office ‘cloud spotting guide’ it’s an interesting read and before you know it, cloud spotting will be your primary party trick and you’ll make lots of new friends! Cirrus, Stratus and Altocumulus just to name a few!
As nice as the fluffy clouds are that we often see in the sky, we’re talking about Cloud Computing, the use of which according to Gartner and other analysts is on the increase. By 2016 it’s expected to become the bulk of IT spend, and one of the key associated benefits is “cost reduction”.
Cloud Computing Technology Types
When we refer to cloud computing, the terms ‘SaaS’, ‘IaaS’ and ‘PaaS’ are synonymous, so what do they mean? Here are some definitions from Microsoft:
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS makes use of a cloud computing infrastructure to deliver one application to many users, regardless of their location, rather than the traditional model of one application per desktop. It allows activities to be managed from central locations in a one-to-many model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics.
Office 365 is an example where applications such as Word, Excel and Microsoft PPM are accessed on demand
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is can also be referred to as “On-demand data centers”. They provide compute power, memory, and storage, typically priced per hour, based on resource consumption. You pay only for what you use, and the service provides all the capacity you need, but you’re responsible for monitoring, managing, and patching your on-demand infrastructure. The biggest advantage of IaaS is that it offers a cloud-based data center without requiring you to install new equipment or to wait for the hardware procurement process—which means you can get IT resources that otherwise might not be available.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS allows organisations to overcome IT limitations. With PaaS, you can develop new applications or services in the cloud that do not depend on a specific platform to run, and you can make them widely available to users through the Internet. PaaS delivers cloud-based application development tools, in addition to services for testing, deploying, collaborating on, hosting, and maintaining applications.
- Microsoft Azure is an example of an open and flexible cloud computing platform offering IaaS + PaaS cloud services
Cloud vs On-Premise
When we often have conversations with organisations looking at deploying Microsoft PPM, one of the key questions we ask is, “do you want it in the cloud” (Project Online), or do you want it on-premise. The initial response is, “What’s the difference between on-premise and cloud?”, to which I normally respond “one’s in the cloud, the other is on-premise”, if that gets a laugh, then great, if not I get serious. In reality, from a user perspective they won’t see a huge difference especially in terms of functionality, the differences that you do see I’ll cover in a separate article which will be imaginatively titled “Microsoft Project Server vs Microsoft Project Online”.
In any organisation we tend to hear the same concerns, most of which centre around data security however if you look at the Microsoft Office 365 Trust Centre, it clearly states that “cloud security with Office 365 is top-notch”! So that should quash any security concerns you have, if not read on and you’ll see that Microsoft have also attained a number of compliance standards, including ISO 27001 which is one of the best security benchmarks globally!
Once we reassure organisations that security is “top-notch” we find that the real blocker is often mind-set, emotion plays a big role and a transition to the cloud can and does result in cultural change.
The cloud, does have advantages. If we look at Project Online, it’s easier & quicker to setup, licensing is simplified and accessibility is increased!
The last point is key, especially as more and more employees start working from remote locations, and consequently collaboration challenges increase. We could at this point start debating VPN vs Cloud access, but I won’t, however from experience cloud access from a user perspective is simpler and from an administrators perspective much easier to manage!