The Cloud

One of the things you come to understand after performing just a bit of research is that statements like “we are going to the cloud”, “we want to migrate to the cloud” and “we are already in the cloud” by themselves do not the tell you very much. Cloud Computing has taken off and so has the emergence of an abundance of acronyms and synonyms that I.T. professionals love. Below are some of the more common as a service acronyms used and a general definition of what they likely mean. Two definitions of Security as a Service (SECaaS) are shown to give you a feel for how different two different groups define the same acronym. you will also note that most definitions are actually provided by cloud vendors and focus on what their offering includes.

The Cloud – a synonym for the Internet and the resources like computers, storage, network, software, services, remote data centers and other things. The term “the Cloud” by itself is just the beginning of the discussion. If we said we were going to use “the transportation” you would have a vague idea that something was going to go from one place to another place. You would not know: when, from where to where, how fast, and are we going on roads? an airplane? car? or truck and what are we taking with us? Even things that may seem very clear to you can be misunderstood and the IT industry can be a bit self righteous and often has the attitude that you should have understood or you should have asked.

Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS)

Communication as a Service (CaaS), enables the consumer to utilize Enterprise level VoIP, VPNs, PBX and Unified Communications without the costly investment of purchasing, hosting and managing the infrastructure. With the service provider responsible for the management and running of these services also, the other advantage the consumer has is that they needn’t require their own trained personnel, bringing significant OPEX as well as CAPEX costs.

Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS)

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), In addition to everything in Communications as a Service (CaaS) see definition below also integrated other type of inbound and outbound communications including text Messaging, in bound and out bound email.

Communications-as-a-Service (Caas) enables the consumer to utilize Enterprise level VoIP, VPNs, PBX and Unified Communications without the costly investment of purchasing, hosting and managing the infrastructure. With the service provider responsible for the management and running of these services also, the other advantage the consumer has is that they needn’t require their own trained personnel, bringing significant OPEX as well as CAPEX costs.

Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS)

Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) is a form of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in which the VDI is outsourced and handled by a third party. Also called hosted desktop services, desktop-as-a-service is frequently delivered as a cloud service along with the apps needed for use on the virtual desktop. A Desktop-as-a-service provider typically handles storing, securing and backing up a user’s data, as well as upgrades for the DaaS service and supported applications. Some of the more well-known desktop-as-a-service providers include Amazon, Desktone (a VMware company) and Citrix.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is when the consumer does not deal with the infrastructure, instead the responsibility of the equipment is outsourced to the Service Provider. The Service Provider not only owns the equipment but will also be responsible for its running and maintenance, where the consumer will be charged on a ‘pay as you use’ basis. IaaS is often offered as a horizontally integrated service that includes not only the server and storage but also the connectivity domains. For example while the consumer may deploy and run their own applications and operating systems, the Iaas provider would typically provide the replication, backup anId archiving (Storage), the powerful computing requirements (Server) or the network load balancing and firewalls (Connectivity domains).

Monitoring-as-a-Service (MaaS)

Monitoring as a Service (MaaS) is at present still an emerging piece of the Cloud jigsaw but an integral one for the future. In the same way that businesses realised that their infrastructure and key applications required monitoring tools that would ensure the proactive elimination of any downtime risks, Monitoring as a Service provides the option to offload a large majority of those costs by having it run as a service as opposed to a fully invested in house tool. So for example by logging onto a thin client or central web based dashboard which is hosted by the service provider, the consumer can monitor the status of their key applications regardless of location. Add the advantages of an easy set up and purchasing process and MaaS could be a key pay as you use model for the de-risking of applications that are initially being migrated to the Cloud.

Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS)

Backup as a Service (BaaS) provides backup and recovery operations from the cloud. The cloud-based BaaS provider maintains necessary backup equipment, applications, process and management in their data center. The customer will have some on-site installation – an appliance and backup agents are common – but there is no need to buy backup servers and software, run upgrades and patches, or purchase dedupe appliances.

Note that BaaS is not just a marketing term for online backup. Online backup is not a service: IT uses the cloud as a backup target, similar to disk or tape. In contrast, BaaS launches from the cloud service provider, who consults with the customer over needs and SLAs, and who manages the backup and recovery service.

Backup as a Service Alphabet Soup

Before we get into backup as a service, let’s clear up the cloudy terminology. BaaS is a relatively new term for backup and already exists for some very different cloud-based services. The below are a few of the acronyms bobbing around the cloud-based services world.

BaaS. We’re discussing Backup as a Service but the acronym more commonly stands for Backend as a Service, which provides mobile application developers a way to link their applications to cloud storage and other tools like user management and social media. In yet another BaaS usage, Business as a Service rises out of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Vendors host business applications and also help to manage the business and provide business products and services.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides the capability for consumers to have applications deployed without the burden and cost of buying and managing the hardware and software. In other words these are either consumer created or acquired web applications or services that are entirely accessible from the Internet. Usually created with programming languages and tools supported by the service provider these web applications enable the consumer to have control over the deployed applications and in some circumstances the application-hosting environment but without the complexity of the infrastructure i.e. the servers, operating systems or storage. Offering a quick time to market and services that can be provisioned as an integrated solution over the web, PaaS facilitates immediate business requirements such as application design, development and testing at a fraction of the normal cost.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a service (SaaS) is the ability for a consumer to use on demand software that is provided by the service provider via a thin client device e.g. a web browser over the Internet. With SaaS the consumer has not only no management or control of the infrastructure such as the storage, servers, network, or operating systems, but also no control over the application’s capabilities. Culled from what were originally referred to as (ASPs) Application Service Providers, SaaS is a quick and efficient delivery model for key business applications such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), HR and payroll.

Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS)

Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) – 1.) McAfee definition which describes their Security-as-a-Service (SAAS) offering: delivers complete endpoint, email, web, and network protection through the cloud, saving your IT department time, effort, and costs. As part of our Security Connected framework that delivers comprehensive security and integrated management, McAfee Security SaaS leverages the power of the cloud to help organizations realize faster time-to-protection to secure their business delivers complete endpoint, email, web, and network protection through the cloud, saving your IT department time, effort, and costs. As part of our Security Connected framework that delivers comprehensive security and integrated management, McAfee Security SaaS leverages the power of the cloud to help organizations realize faster time-to-protection to secure their business.   2.) Wikepedia definition: A business model in which a large service provider integrates their security services into a corporate infrastructure on a subscription basis more cost effectively than most individuals or corporations can provide on their own, when total cost of ownership is considered. In this scenario, security is delivered as a service from the cloud, without requiring on-premises hardware avoiding substantial capital outlays. These security services often include authentication, anti-virus, anti-malware/spyware, intrusion detection, and security event management, among others. Security-as-a-Service offers a number of benefits, including:

  1. Constant virus definition updates that are not reliant on user compliance
  2. Greater security expertise than is typically available within an organization
  3. Faster user provisioning
  4. Outsourcing of administrative tasks, such as log management, to save time and money and allow an organization to devote more time to its core competencies.

Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS)

Storage as a service (STaaS) is an architecture model in which a provider provides digital storage on their own infrastructure. Storage as a service can be implemented as a business model in which a large service provider rents space in their storage infrastructure on a subscription basis. The economy of scale in the service provider’s infrastructure theoretically allows them to provide storage much more cost effectively than most individuals or corporations can provide their own storage, when total cost of ownership is considered. Storage as a Service is often used to solve offsite backup challenges. Critics of storage as a service point to the large amount of network bandwidth required to conduct their storage utilizing an internet-based service.

Network as a service (NaaS)

Network as a service (NaaS) describes services for network transport connectivity. NaaS involves the optimization of resource allocations by considering network and computing resources as a unified whole.

Hybrid Cloud Computing (HCC)

Hybrid cloud computing (HCC) – see Anything as a Service (XaaS) below.

Anything as a Service (XaaS) or ‘anything as a service’ is the delivery of IT as a Service through hybrid Cloud computing and is a reference to either one or a combination of Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS). communications as a service (CaaS) or monitoring as a service (Maas). XaaS is quickly emerging as a term that is being readily recognized as services that were previously separated on either private or public Clouds are becoming transparent and integrated.