Home saas What is SaaS? What is "The Cloud?"
What is "The Cloud?" PDF

Small to mid-size businesses are adopting managed IT services at an ever increasing pace.  While this is not surprising due to the limited or stretched IT resources of many small to mid-size businesses; those in charge of evaluating or considering managed services for their business are faced with a host of unfamiliar terms and a very different model than how their business has historically used IT services.  We have compiled a set of the terms one might encounter when evaluating managed services and how they might be used to provide superior tools and simplified management for users and processes.

"aas" or "aaS" used to indicate "as a Service"  -- as in SaaS (software as a Service), DaaS (Desktop as a Service), IaaS Infrastructure as a Service

By adding "aaS" the writer is indicating that the item is being offered "as a Service."  The indication is that the item is offered to users without the need to manage or own the infrastructure used to deliver the service.  Most ofen seen with "Software as a Service" but gaining popularity with DaaS (Desktop as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), and others.  We do not see the trend of adding "aaS" to indicate that someting is being offered "as a service" slowing in the near future.

"Cloud Computing" "In the Cloud" "Cloud Services"

IT diagrams frequently used a "cloud" to show a portion of the configuration that contains important items and or services, but where the details are not particularly important because they are well established or are beyond the "10,000 foot view" that is necessary for the discussion at hand.  It kept viewers from getting bogged down in the details.  Early on, the cloud was most often used to represent the Internet without having to detail all of the routing, switching, and services the internet uses to actually accomplish the task.  In the example below, a small company network connects to the Internet (shown as a cloud).

The Cloud representing internet based services
The premise of a "cloud" to represent external resources, often "the Internet" without showing any detail

Since the advent of readily available internet connections, more and more services are provided, managed and supported as a service -- without the need for businesses to manage or even know the details.  Initially this was limited to services like email (yahoo!, gmail, hotmail, etc.); but as availability of high speed internet and our willingness to consume services without having to manage them (or add staff to manage them) expanded -- so did the services.  Today, the "Cloud" refers to a set of resources (processing power, data storage, network resources, infrastructure) that can be utilized to perform nearly any "computing" task.  The resources of a group of servers, storage arrays, and network resources are pooled to provide a better level of service than each could provide individually.  Cloud services are often flexible and expandable to meet the needs of today as well as prepare for tomorrow in a way that may not have been possible or cost effective in the past.

Server Virtualization has led to "Public Clouds" and "Private Clouds" -- these are simply designations as to who is allowed to run services on those particular resources.  Some examples of a Public Cloud might be Amazon's EC2 Cloud, or Microsoft's Windows Azure Cloud which allow users to buy the ability to "rent" access to a pool of resources owned and controled by the provider or to only pay for the resources you use.  Any company can setup their own private "cloud" that may be shared and accessed by different departments, business units, or customers under whatever arrangement they agree upon.

"SaaS" "saas" "Software as a Service"  (see more detail in the article "How SaaS Works" )

"DaaS" "Desktop as a Service"