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Understanding Cloud Computing for SMBs

by Audre Hill


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Published on this site: September 26th, 2011 - See more articles from this month

The buzz about cloud migration , or taking your business to the cloud , is all over the internet. But between the geek speak and the sales copy, it's hard for small and mid-sized business owners to put cloud computing in perspective with their real business needs.

Here's a brief overview of the different types of clouds and the various vendors in those markets right now. As you read, keep in mind that the internet changes quickly. Cloud vendors will continue to come and go, so longevity, stability and portability will become increasingly important factors when choosing vendors.

Cloud computing for SMBs:

The three main types of clouds right now are SaaS, PaaS and IaaS (descriptions will follow). As a SMB owner, you and your staff will usually only have direct experience with SaaS - the applications that deliver software like Microsoft Office and Google Docs. Here's an example of how the three layers work together.

  1. SaaS (Software as a Service):

    You and your employees use it as off-the-shelf application software. For example, if you use SalesForce to manage your customer database, you're using SaaS. It's hosted on the cloud, and you download apps to connect with the cloud version.

  2. PaaS (Platform as a Service):

    As an example, let's say you decide that the off-the-shelf version of SalesForce still requires too many hours of manual data manipulation -- you're paying overtime in the accounting department because they need to use create spreadsheets every month to sort and extract data that's specific to your company.

    At this point, you hire a custom software developer to code SalesForce to produce the reports your accounting department needs. He'll code and test your customized version on Force.com (owned by SalesForce) --a bare-bones software platform, or PaaS.

  3. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service):

    These are the virtual machines that developers love because they provide a basic development environment in a push-button scalable form: processing, storage and networking can all be sized to fit the project almost instantaneously. There's no waiting for a human to configure and network a new server to create more storage space. And there's no large up-front hardware investment necessary to expand a system because the fees are set up to pay-as-you-go.

As a business owner, you won't need to get involved with the details of cloud migration, PaaS or IaaS - especially once you have your custom software developer on the project. Good developers are lifelong learners and have a network of professional contacts they can tap into for news about the latest software trends. Your time will be freed to run your business and manage customer satisfaction - which is the real goal of adding custom software to your operations.

Copyright (c) 2011 Audre Hill

Audre Hill: To see a cloud computing infographic for a visual perspective, check out http://boomcycle.com/how-smbs-use-saas-paas-iaas/. Visit http://Boomcycle.com to find out more about how this Los Angeles custom software development team can handle your cloud computing needs and add value to your business.

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