What Fuels the Growth Of the Cloud?
Cloud hosting has come a long way in a short time. Once regarded as a place for start-up companies who lacked the capital to set up IT systems of their own, it is now the home of Big Business and Big Data.
The reasons for this growth aren’t far to seek – they lie in the speed at which cloud services have developed. The cloud began as simply a way for start-ups to have access to the computing resources they needed without having to buy the whole data center. Not unlike early Local Area Networks, which were more often a way to spread the cost of expensive peripherals (like printers) across a number of users than a serious attempt at collaborative computing. Networks are now far more advanced than that, and so is the cloud.
Like (once again) the early LAN, the early cloud was infrastructure – a road down which data could travel. It’s still infrastructure – infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, which follows one of the basic cloud principles that you only pay for what you use – but now it’s also so much more. People regularly use the word “stack” to describe it. Start with the infrastructure as the lowest layer and add other layers on top of that.
The IaaS layer comprises the networks, the operating systems, the storage devices and the servers that make everything possible. The next layer is PaaS – platform as a service. For anyone wanting to develop and test software, this is a godsend. Projects can start as soon as they have been agreed, without waiting weeks or months for machine time to become available. The speed with which new software is tested, debugged and made available has accelerated since PaaS became widespread and it may be that even companies who don’t plan a wholesale transfer to the cloud at the present time would be wise to consider using it for software development.
On top of PaaS comes the layer known as SaaS – software as a service. The growth of SaaS has been staggering; Forbes projected a 46% median revenue growth for SaaS companies last year, with more companies coming on stream all the time, while IDC says SaaS delivery will grow almost five times faster than traditional software markets.
There are applications where SaaS is an obvious choice and others where it is not, and we’ll be happy to help you determine which case applies to you. Let’s run through the reasons for thinking about cloud computing:
- Price is falling and performance is improving. That’s going to continue;
- Having resources available immediately, but paying only for what you use, will slash both development time and costs of new software;
Instant scalability means you don’t have to invest now for resources you won’t need till sometime in the future.