Cloud services and infrastructure companies such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure give you all the tools and functionality you need to set up a virtualized computing network for your business. Operating all your business software, applications, and operations in the cloud provides your business with cost-savings, flexibility, and mobility – which all work together to make your company more modern, adaptive, and competitive.
However, the cloud computing industry covers a wide range of services and functionality that all operate in the cloud. As such, the term “cloud services” encapsulates offerings ranging from infrastructure and full platforms to individual cloud-based software systems. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) all fall under the main umbrella of “cloud computing” yet deliver distinct functions, benefits, and cloud options for businesses.
Here’s a brief rundown on how IaaS functionality compares with the tools and features PaaS and SaaS have to offer.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) allows you to set up your business infrastructure completely in the cloud, eliminating the need for investing in pricey hardware upfront and then continuing to fund the ongoing maintenance and oversight needed to keep systems, servers, and networks up and functioning successfully. With IaaS in place, you can instead manage all of your business-critical IT functions such as data storage and cloud computing all from a centralized system.
IaaS is a great option for businesses that want to move all of their business systems and computing to a cloud environment for better control, security, and cost efficiency. IaaS offers robust options but requires technical expertise and development to make the most of this option.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) gives you the flexibility needed to create your personalized collection of cloud-based business systems and tools that your business uses most. You can build, update, and manage all of your cloud software programs and applications from a centralized platform which enhances the security of your systems and improves the efficiency of operations as well.
Using PaaS gives you the ability to create an organized, centralized portal of online business apps, without creating full infrastructure. This is a good choice for companies who want to create one platform to run all their cloud apps and systems more efficiently and securely (but that don’t yet require a full digital infrastructure or network).
Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to hosted, cloud-based systems that companies can run without any hardware or extensive infrastructure in place. These programs function exclusively in the cloud, so you don’t have to download any software to your machines to use system features. Instead, you can access all your tools and apps via cloud access. SaaS programs offer guaranteed uptime, require no maintenance or oversight from your company, and are regularly updated to ensure you have all the most updated features and security protections in place. SaaS solutions can be used as stand-alone cloud software options (such as VoIP, CRM, Contact Center, Payroll, etc) or integrated so that systems share data to streamline your operations and give you more detailed and comprehensive insight into your business through analytics and reporting.
AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have the largest individual stakes in the cloud services market currently. While these three companies offer many overlapping services when it comes to infrastructure, networking, and cloud-based software and app integration, each company also has particular strengths in the market. Analyzing your company goals and determining exactly what you want to accomplish in the cloud in the short and long-term will play a large role in which cloud services company will work best for your business.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) entered the cloud services market ahead of its competitors, pioneering the space in 2006 (around 7 years before other large players came onto the scene), and continues to lead the space with a 33% market share, according to Synergy Research Group.
AWS excels in robust developer tools, and scalability for companies of varying sizes. Meaning, AWS does a great job of taking everything you’ve already built internally and moving your infrastructure into a cloud environment.
AWS offers a large and diverse collection of over 175 services and apps that can be integrated into your cloud infrastructure, including:
Microsoft Azure holds an 18% market share in the cloud computing space, and has a pattern of growth over the past few quarters. Where AWS excels in development tools and an extensive portfolio of apps and systems, Azure leads in SaaS and understands the enterprise market needs of their customers.
Azure is a popular IaaS choice for companies who have a longstanding relationship with Microsoft and a long history of using Microsoft programs, apps, and cloud tools with success in their businesses. For companies already leveraging a suite of Microsoft programs, the migration to cloud infrastructure is a more natural path for streamlining operations and moving to a fully cloud-based setup.
Google Cloud entered the cloud computing space a bit behind AWS and Microsoft Azure, but are a well-funded and very competitively growing IaaS provider with 5% market share.
Where Microsoft Azure caters to the enterprise, Google Cloud caters to cloud natives and a whole generation of companies born in the cloud. Google leads the market in modern technology innovations, and excels in IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning, and data analytics.
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