Visma does not define Cloud as a technology in itself, but a collection of different technologies combined with new business models. By this we state that Cloud is the next generation of IT – a new paradigm. Through history we have seen similar technological disruptions, from mainframes to PC’s, and from character based software to windows based. Now we are moving from the traditional installed software to the Cloud. This implies that there is a new way to acquire and consume the software. It is now purchased online and delivered through the Internet. Often discussions regarding the Cloud are limited to where the hardware physically is located. But this is only a fraction of the Cloud paradigm. We will take a deeper look at what the Cloud is really made of.
The different service models are the key elements of Cloud. The service models consist of Software-, Platform- and Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and you can read more on this here. The most well-known model is Software-as-a-Service. This implies that we are moving away from traditional products and now deliver value through services. For the customer this means that you can now focus on your business processes, rather than acquisition and operation of infrastructure, time consuming upgrades and installations, and inflexible pricing models. To get more insight on how products can be turned into services you may read this article.
The deployment model is all about where the software is actually running. There are many different types of deployment models and we will explore the most common models.
The most common and well-known deployment model is Public Cloud. A Public Cloud is a huge data centre that offers the same services to all its users. The services are accessible for everyone and much used by the consumer segment. Examples of public services are Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. For consumers, Public Cloud offerings are usually free of charge, for professionals there is usually a per-per-use (or user) pricing model. The Public Cloud is always hosted by a professional Cloud supplier.
The other commonly used deployment model is Private Clouds. In general an internally hosted data centre is regarded as a Private Cloud if we add virtualization, automation and scalability. A professional Cloud vendor may also a Private Cloud to their customers by supporting a separate hardware environment in the data centre.
The Hybrid Cloud is a combination of both Private and Public Clouds. This is a setup that is much used for large companies. Sensitive data may be preferred in a Private Cloud and supporting services in Public, for instance search, email, blogs, CRM etc.
A way to preserve the benefits of economy of scales with the Private Cloud is a Community Cloud. This is cooperation between users who share some concerns like security, application types, legislative issues and efficiency demands. In other words, a Community Cloud is a closed Private Cloud for a group of users.
Essential characteristics for Cloud
It is not sufficient to offer SaaS with a public deployment model in order to call it Cloud. There are some essentials that also must be fulfilled.
This element is one of the key benefits of Cloud. The user may automatically add or release services.
A Cloud solution must be available on multiple devices. This means you must have access from your smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC.
Elastic pricing model
The third essential is that the pricing model is flexible. With this we mean that is based on usage, there are no up-front investments and it scales according to changing needs.
These elements sum up the Cloud paradigm. As consumers of IT, we are part of the Cloud when we use the services on our tablet, smartphone or PC.