Understanding the cloud – part 2, the different service models

Steve Newton

What are the three distinct cloud computing service models that are commonly available and why it is important to understand the specific strengths of each when determining your general cloud strategy and specific dictation requirements?

Understanding the cloud – part 2, the different service models
Understanding the cloud – part 2, the different service models

In a previous blog (Understanding the cloud – do you know your public from your hybrid?) we explained how dictation software is increasingly delivered via the cloud and why this means that both current and prospective users of dictation systems need to fully understand the different types of cloud computing types available.

As part of this understanding, it’s also important to know more about the key characteristics of the three main cloud service models so that you are able to choose the model that aligns best with your business objectives.

Listed below are brief descriptions of these service models, the types of benefits they typically offer and how they might help to meet your dictation requirements.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

This particular service model offers cloud-hosted, ready-to-use online application software. Users pay a monthly or annual fee to use a complete application from within a web browser, desktop client or mobile app. Importantly, the application and all of the infrastructure required to deliver it are hosted and managed by the SaaS vendor.

Key benefits include:

  • No need for software updates, since vendors manage and update SaaS applications, meaning in turn that users have access to the most up-to-date version at all times.
  • Minimal risk as many SaaS products offer a free trial period, or low monthly fees that let customers try the software to see if it will meet their needs.
  • Given the increasing adoption of hybrid working, SaaS allows for anytime/anywhere access to applications, enabling users to work with them on any device with a browser and an internet connection.
  • Easy scalability because adding users is as simple as registering and paying for new seats.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS is on-demand access to cloud-hosted computing infrastructure - servers, storage capacity and networking resources - that customers can provision, configure and use in much the same way as they would use on-premises hardware. The difference is that the cloud service provider hosts, manages and maintains the hardware and computing resources in its own data centres, with the customer paying on either a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis.

Key benefits include:

  • Greater flexibility as IaaS allows customers to instantly access infrastructure services on demand without having to invest in new hardware, meaning they can scale infrastructure to support business growth and reduce it when needed.
  • Cost savings as customers don’t have to buy physical hardware every time they want to upgrade, they only pay for what they need as the infrastructure is provided on a subscription basis.
  • Enhanced reliability since the customer’s assets are stored in a remote data centre that is managed by the cloud service provider, thereby ensuring availability during any local power outages or physical disasters.
  • Comprehensive security, as cloud data centres frequently offer a higher level of security than the customer would have if they hosted the infrastructure in-house.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This type of service delivery model provides a cloud-based platform that enables organisations to create, run and manage cloud-based software without the need for onsite infrastructure. The cloud services provider hosts, manages and maintains all the hardware and software included in the platform as well as related services for security, operating system and software upgrades and backups.

Key benefits include:

  • Simplicity, with PaaS giving businesses a platform with development tools, so they can develop, test and host applications in the same environment.
  • Better collaboration, since PaaS provides a shared software development environment, giving development and operations teams access to all the tools they need, from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • A more scalable approach, with organisations able to purchase additional capacity for building, testing, staging and running applications whenever they need it.
  • Greater management efficiency, with PaaS offloading infrastructure management, patches, updates and other administrative tasks to the cloud service provider.

Which solution works best for you?

SaaS is particularly popular among small to medium sized business, especially those that employ remote workers or frequently require teams and/or individuals to collaborate on a regular basis. Most digital dictation and speech to text solutions delivered via the cloud use this particular model.

IaaS eliminates the need for in-house hardware, meaning organisations get state-of-the-art IT infrastructure at a fraction of the cost. This makes IaaS a popular service model for small and medium-sized companies. It helps level the playing field by enabling them to compete with larger organisations with bigger budgets, because they don’t have to invest in hardware and they can scale their infrastructure on demand.

Meanwhile, the PaaS model is aimed at organisations that require a flexible computing platform for developing and testing applications and software. Such organisations might, for example, specialise in software development or be involved in the implementation of agile methodologies, with PaaS providing the tools to quickly build, test and deploy applications.

It’s also important to recognise that SaaS, Paas, IaaS are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many organisations use more than one, and indeed many larger organisations use all three, often in combination with traditional in-house IT. Ultimately, the choice depends upon factors such as the functionality the customer requires together with the expertise it already possesses within its own staff.

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