Popular cloud computing services: SaaS (Software as a Service)

One of the reasons the ‘Cloud’ has become such a ubiquitous term is the Saas model. Some people are beginning to think Saas should not be thought of as a part of the Cloud packages at all, because it provides in some respects a different type of service than Paas or Iaas.

Saas or Software as a service is the most basic service, essentially it is a cloud offering that individuals or companies can use to standardize routine tasks or services.  An email client might use this type of cloud packaging because the basics of client needs to work across platforms.  Essentially Saas is a data storage, offering specific software that uploads and downloads from the general server.  The whole process is streamlined by the Cloud provider.  The Cloud provider is doing all the developing for the software; while in Paas the platform can do some of the work– Saas takes this beyond the scope of what Paas provides.  Saas is really just the data storage aspect of the Cloud offering where the data is limited in scope to the type of software the Saas is providing.

The Saas model, in fact most Cloud based services, rely upon the use of some software interface for the client that uploads and downloads from the Cloud.  The Cloud operator utilizes intelligent software to handle data from the clients.  Examples include GoogleDrive, iCloud, or an application store; all these services remotely hold data and software in the cloud that the client is able to upload and download from.  It takes little know-how to operate many of Saas Cloud operations the Cloud is able to manage and essentially streamlines aspects of business operations.

Interoperability and security are still issues with the Saas model.  A problem with Saas is the use of software precludes or interferes with control over your data.  The software operator remains in control of formatting the software.  The data a customer puts onto the Cloud is read by their own network through a pre-designed software client, so porting or moving customers’ data is a cumbersome process.  As portability is a problem for all Cloud services the service of your particular Cloud host is an extremely important decision.

What a Saas customer must keep in mind is that they are limited by the software they are using.  If, for-instance, one wanted to port data or use their information in any particular way, they would need to design their own system for accessing the information for personal use.  Porting data from an Saas Cloud provider is a significant concern for the customer.  On the other hand, the software service is already pre-packaged into the product so the customer does not have to worry about setting up a system.  And usually a customer using Saas will be looking to outsource significant amounts of IT needs to the Cloud provider.
As Cloud customers come from all walks of life, the client base for a provider is not limited to a company.

But many individuals use a Saas in their day to day operations. Saas is such a ubiquitous model that many people are using it without knowing it has a particular designation.  Whether  Saas should be considered in step with the other services is up in the air, but the basics of a Cloud service are there.  The Cloud host usually maintains a large server or servers to hold the that is being sent through its operation, and the client accesses that data as way of interfacing with data, often in the form of communications.  The Cloud is a nascent industry with new issues cropping up routinely.



The Need for Standards in Cloud Computing Security

For enterprises to view cloud computing as the best choice for storage of their data, standards are of great essence. Most IT enterprises are working hard to ensure that they get a cloud which will help them cut on their expenses while achieving their business needs.

Today, most organisations allow only a percentage of their daily operations to be supported by the cloud. Although IT experts expect that the adoption of the cloud should accelerate in the near future, many enterprises are still wondering whether the cloud is the best solution for storing their data. The main source of fear is security. The enterprises are not sure of whether their data will be secure in the cloud.

They are also in need of creating an on-demand service while keeping compliance and industry compliance. The enterprises shy away from storing g their data in the cloud for fear that they are not protected. The cloud is porous in nature, and this makes it an attractive target by attackers and securing it has become more complex as the site.

Currently, there is no definition on what an effective cloud security is. There exist no standards defining what an effective cloud security might, and what is expected from both the providers and the users to ensure that the cloud data has been well secured. Instead of having these, the enterprises and providers are left to rely on data center standards, list of auditing specifications, industry mandates and regulatory requirements for provision of guidance on how the cloud environments should be protected.

Although this approach can make cloud computing to be somehow complex, it is a good approach to ensure that the cloud data is well secured. There is a need for both the enterprises and the cloud providers to ensure that they focus on the core elements of well secured cloud such as identity and access management, virtualisation security, content security, threat management and data privacy.

It is also good for the industry to consider the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) specifications regarding the cloud security, so as to form a good foundation for protection of the data and services which are running in the cloud. Although most of the principles here were meant for the government organisations, they are very relevant and applicable in the private sector.

The guidelines provided by NIST are good for addressing serious issues regarding cloud security such as identity and access management, architecture, trust, data protection, software isolation, incidence response, availability and compliance. The body also states the factors which organisations have to consider in relation to public cloud outsourcing. The CSA (Cloud Security Alliance) is a good source of knowledge for rules regarding how to secure data running in on-demand environment. Here, you will know more about the best practices for securing such data. With CSA, all the necessary guidelines which can help you know whether your cloud provider is doing what they can to secure your data are provided.

Working through such organisations is good as they will help both the customers and the provide in laying of a good groundwork for the purpose of creating a secure cloud environment. Security principles should be applied as much as possible when we are securing our cloud environments. With good standards for cloud computing, the enterprises will be much guaranteed that their data is safe in the cloud. This will improve their trust for the cloud provider, and they will make cloud computing the best solution to their IT needs. The current customers will be much assured of the security of their data.

Scaling and Economics of Scale for the Cloud

The advantages of moving your computing needs into the cloud is for some an obvious move and for others an important question to consider. The simple explanation is that the market is designed to be more efficient, in this case by moving separate databases to a central location. With new technologies there is a market for unused storage that the economy of scale allows us to free up and eliminate waste by a centralized server. Now pricing isn’t the only motivating factor one might use the Cloud; wether you are outsourcing a whole IT department to the Cloud, a few simple tasks, the hardware systems of your operation, or some combination taking into account waste becomes a vital part of any entrepreneur’s job.

For most new entrepreneurs they are growing their operations and want to keep costs as lean as possible, and as scalable as possible, to keep the business growing according to needs that may not be predictable. So you may be shopping for a Paas operation to meet your particular needs, now one thing to consider is what do you want to keep in house and what services do you want to pay for. Your Paas provider is going to be able to provide a number of services that when you started would have been generally wasted resources. And in the future you have the capacity to move into a different system depending on one’s needs. This flexibility is the essence of the scalability of the information economy in general, it gives a whole new model to the information that wasn’t available in the past.

Economies are run by many factors, one such factor can be scaling, which is what having a dedicated server allows for. By hosting one large server and being able to adjust how the data is stored between computers allows for the Cloud provider to eliminate waste that might be collecting by each company hosting their own dedicated server. The advantages to this model is that it saves start up money for the client, and gives them greater flexibility for their needs, and provides a third party to profit in a new way. This process is one factor in driving our economy, in fact Adam Smith isolated this phenomenon. Adam Smith gave an example of separating tasks between three different individuals, and by doing this he found they were able to produce more; this is an example of an economy of scale. In a more industrial world we see this process going on in factories and all over our economy. The scale of the Cloud provider’s servers allows for them to make more profit than is lost by each client individually.

There are by some standards two ways to scale your operation using Cloud resources, that is horizontal scaling and vertical scaling. Vertical scaling is the ability to add more hardware resources and horizontal scaling is the codes ability to utilize those increased resources. On the one hand you may have more need for a more robust network of memory, and then on the other you may have to scale your operation to be able to handle an increase in RAM usage. The usage of greater quantities of RAM demand a more agile program that can convert between sources of data. An operation that is scalable in these two ways are able to effectively utilize the Cloud to its potential. Different Cloud providers are able to utilize these scaling effects differently. Fore-instance a Paas Cloud service will handle both horizontal scaling and vertical scaling; while a Iaas Cloud provider may only help you to scale your operation vertically.