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Making Sense of the Cloud

By the DynaSis Team

Although the majority of business owners (87% per one survey) have adopted cloud computing in some form, that doesn’t mean they understand it fully. Every day, we hear from business owners who want to explore the cloud further but are not familiar with the various aspects of cloud computing. What’s Software as a Service, and how does it differ from Infrastructure as a Service? What is the difference between a public cloud and a private one? What are the criteria for selecting a provider?

To help business owners familiarize themselves with these important issues—and to help them choose the right cloud provider—we developed a white paper, Big Cloud Little Cloud, that is available on our website. To pique your interest in learning more, this article will explain the various cloud services—one of the most confusing aspects of cloud computing for many business owners.

The Cloud as a Service

Unless an organization runs its own data center, all cloud “products” are actually services. The company licenses one or more cloud-based elements hosted in data centers run by IT solutions firms and made accessible (served) to the company. The three main categories of cloud service are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). There are other “services” that are often add-ons for companies deploying IaaS, PaaS or SaaS.  These are Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Backup as a Service (BaaS).

Software as a Service: With SaaS, software vendors host their applications on cloud servers and provide access to organizations and their personnel on a subscription basis (usually billed per user or per “seat”). The hosting company handles all licensing, upgrades, IT support and other aspects of the solution. Office 365, Salesforce, and Gmail are all examples of SaaS.

Infrastructure as a Service: IaaS is a hosted solution where a IT services vendor licenses server space in its data center. Organizations use IaaS to store and access corporate files in the cloud as well as to run applications, host websites and more. Some IaaS offerings include email, office productivity and other software, eliminating the need for firms to deploy and manage these solutions.

Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS is similar to IaaS, but it is more commonly used by organizations that develop, deploy and manage their own applications. PaaS solutions include hosted servers, operating systems, and other elements of a computing platform. In some scenarios, companies can also run third-party applications and store files and other assets on their PaaS resources, as well.

Desktop as a Service (DaaS): DaaS is often a front-end solution for an IaaS deployment. Personnel access cloud resources through a desktop portal that can be opened on any desktop, laptop or mobile device, eliminating the need for organizations to own and maintain desktop computers.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Backup as a Service (BaaS): Both DRaaS and BaaS provide hosted backup of an organization’s files, sometimes with selective (file by file) access. However, DRaaS generally creates complete system images that organizations can restore to recover their operations after a major outage. DRaaS solutions also may create backup images more frequently than do BaaS services, but this capability varies widely from one solution to the next.

As you can see, these solutions vary widely in their scope, and the specifics can be dramatically different from one provider to the next. As a result, we recommend organizations work with a qualified managed IT services firm, such as a managed services provider, to devise a plan. We go into detail about selection criteria in our cloud white paper. We hope you will find it helpful.

DynaSis is an Atlanta IT services and cloud computing provider for small and midsized businesses. All of our solutions focus on helping companies achieve the three fundamental IT necessities of the modern business—availability, security and mobility. We specialize in on-demand and on-premises managed IT services, managed cloud infrastructure, desktops and backups, and professional hardware and equipment installation. For more information about DynaSis’ IT support and services, visit

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