There was a time when people used to run applications and software downloaded to their own devices or servers. This meant increased threats of data loss and less flexible systems – you actually needed data to be in the system to be able to complete the work.
With cloud hosting, people can now access all the application through the internet, no matter what the location is. The solution has become popular over the years, especially among small and medium enterprises, that run on a modest budget.
Companies can look at increased collaboration with cloud, enabling employees to share and work on data seamlessly, and individuals to pick up their work from any machine that has access to the cloud. Cloud services have also opened a world for businesses and users to interact. You can save your word files in cloud or just use a cloud invoicing system. There are different cloud host providers offering you space to store data online and collaborate easily but the development of SaaS has been the most significant.
According to the latest statistics issued by Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), 84 percent of all the companies in the United Kingdom have adopted at least one cloud service. The research also shows that about 78 percent companies in the country adopt two or more cloud services. In fact, this technology has evolved in phases, starting from utility and grid computing, application service provision (ASP) and the latest Software as a Service (SaaS).
Why Cloud Hosting?
There are different reasons that have owed to the remarkable success of cloud hosting:
- Flexibility: Need more bandwidth or storage space instantly? The cloud has you covered. The ability to meet ever-changing business demands is what cloud services are known for.
- Disaster recovery: You no longer need a sophisticated disaster recovery plan as cloud computing would take care of it. As a matter of fact, using a cloud service reduced the time to resolve issues by as much as 50 percent.
- Software updates: According to statistics released in 2010, UK-based companies spent over 400 hours each month to manage website security. On the other hand, cloud computing suppliers such as Microsoft and Amazon would take care of this.
- Work from anywhere: According to a recent survey, 42 percent of employees in the UK would give up some of their salary if they were given the option to telecommute. This would have a positive effect on the person’s work – life balance.
- Eco-friendly: Businesses that require cloud services only use the space they need. This reduces carbon footprint by a considerable margin as switching onto a cloud is known to decrease the energy consumption by as much as 30 percent.
Comparing Arch Rivals – Amazon Web Services versus Microsoft Azure
Both Microsoft and Amazon are head over heels in grabbing the market share with their cloud-based services. While Amazon did have an amazing head start, Microsoft Azure is soon catching up. Both these companies have the resources to lure individual as well as enterprise customers.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Computing
Amazon employs an Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which allows users to configure virtual machines in a pre-configured fashion or customize it according to their needs. Users get to choose the size, power, memory capacity and the number of VM. In addition, they can also choose the location and availability zone. Load balancing and auto scaling, are a couple of additional features supported by EC2.
Microsoft Azure was made available to consumers in May 2013. Users of this service can choose a virtual hard disk to create a virtual machine. This can either be pre-defined or user-defined. You would have to specify the number of cores and memory capacity.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Storage and Databases
Amazon Web Services use temporary storage, which is allocated once an instance begins and gets destroyer once it has been terminated. Storage is provided that can either be attached to an instance or kept separate. Amazon also has full support for relational and NoSQL databases as well as Big Data.
Similar to AWS, Azure too user temporary storage as well as Page Blobs (Microsoft’s block storage) for virtual machine – based volumes. Azure too provides complete support for relational and NoSQL databases and Big Data, made available through HDInsight and Microsoft Azure Table.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Networking
Amazon’s virtual private clouds and Azure’s Virtual Network give users the flexibility of grouping virtual machines into isolated networks on the cloud. Therefore, users would be able to precisely define a network topology, create route tables, subnets and private IP address ranges.
Amazon Web Services Vs. Microsoft Azure: Pricing
While customers using Amazon Web Services are charged, by rounding up the number of hours used, Microsoft charges customer based on the number of minutes used on demand.
You need to choose a service that suits to your needs. Talk to an expert or evaluate the pros and cons of each. Your choice of cloud hosting can directly affect the organizational productivity and performance so it’s a great idea to do your research on which cloud hosting provider can work to your advantage.
Cloud Computing and SaaS are the latest buzz words in the IT industry these day. Businesses today are migrating their legacy applications to the Cloud, mostly as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The reason being, Cloud Computing offers convenient on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources including networks, applications, services, storage, servers, etc. These computing resources can then be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management efforts. There are many other benefits of cloud computing:
- Cloud Computing offers a broader network access. This means that you can access anything at anytime from anywhere.
- It helps you in achieving economies of scale. Your output is more with lesser people.
- You don’t have to spend huge bucks on technological infrastructure where you have everything that you need on the cloud.
- It helps in streamlining processes which ultimately lets to get more work in lesser time and people.
- With a cloud supported set up, it takes fewer people to do more work. So, there is less personal training required.
Despite all the benefits, the decision to migrate your legacy application to the cloud should not be taken lightly. Your decision should be based on a deep thought given to your business requirements. Remember, it is more about applying the correct strategy for the right application and least about the benefits offered by cloud computing.
A business must consider answering the following questions before deciding to migrate their legacy applications to the cloud:
- Why should I make the move to cloud?
The answers are simple. You should move your application to the cloud when you need to change the architecture of the app, or when you want to upgrade the app, or when you think implementing hybrid networks are required for your firm.
- Which application should I migrate?
When it comes to numerous applications, it is never possible that one size will fit all. All applications are different from each other. Some are monolithic while others are single-thread applications meant for processing transactions.
- Which approach should I use to move to the cloud?
You need to decide how far you want to head into the cloud. If you need to have control over the code of your legacy application, SaaS is the best option. If you want to keep only certain functions with yourself as a legacy application, split those functions and outsource the other functions to a cloud provider.
But that’s not it! After answering all these questions, the enterprise must make sure that the applications continue to deliver excellent service to its end users.
Out of the plethora of services that Amazon offers, the most popular services are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. These are also popularly known as Amazon EC2. Web-scale computing can be easily redesigned using this web service. The services offered by Amazon follow a simple policy according to which you will only have to pay for the services that you are using.
There is no concept of ‘minimum fee’ on Amazon. You can calculate your monthly expenditure using a tool called ‘AWS Simple Monthly Calculator’, which is available on the Amazon website. This blog explains the costing concepts for all the other services available with Amazon.
- On Demand Instances
This billing format allows users to pay their hourly usage of compute capacity. Moreover, there are no long term commitments involved. As a result, the large fixed costs involved are broken down into small variable costs. Besides, you are not required to pay for plan, purchase and maintenance of hardware. The pricing done for a service is billed on a per hour basis for each of the instances used. The pricing is different for different operating systems though. The time is logged from the time the instance was initiated to the time that it was terminated. Besides, a partial hour is also taken as a full hour. But the best part is that there are no long-term commitments required with Amazon.
- Reserved Instances
This payment format allows you to make a small one-time payment, which reserves an instance for your use in the future as well. Against this, you get a discount on the hourly charge for the service. According to Amazon’s own website, with this payment format you can save up to 65% over On Demand rates. Reserved instances are of three main types – Heavy, Medium and Light Utilization. These instances are available for SUSE Linux Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise, Windows and Linux/Unix. Instances of Amazon VPC can also be reserved at a price. You can also expect to get good discounts if you buy bulk reserved instances. Discounts are directly applied on future purchases and upfront fees.
- Spot Instances
This payment format follow the simple rules of demand and supply. The users can bid for unused capacity on the Amazon EC2 using Spot Instances. Instances bought under this payment format are charged on the spot price. This price is not set and fluctuates on the basis of the demand and supply parameters. The spot price is determined by the Amazon EC2. In order to bid for a spot instance, you need to send a request specifying the type of instance, the desired zone of availability, Spot Instances’ number and your hourly bid price. Spot Instances is most suitable for time-flexible and interruption-tolerant tasks.
- Data Transfer
The billing done for data transfer is based on the amount of data that enter and exit the cloud. Different rate tiers are defined for different services. In this pricing format, provisioned IOPS (input/output operations per second) is charged by the you provision in IOPS. This amout is then multiplied by the percentage of days you provision for in a month.
- EBS – Optimized Instances
Amazon EC2 instances can utilize the full capacity of the IOPS on EBS Volume if you complement them with EBS-Optimized instances. The pricing of these instances depends upon the movement of inputs and outputs between Amazon EC2 and Amazon EBS.
All said and done, it is important for you to know that prices are region dependent. Therefore, you must look at the Purchasing Options page on the Amazon website for actual costing. An important functionality worth mentioning here is that Amazon allows its new users to access few of its services for free during the initial sign-up period. The services that are offered free on a monthly basis during the first year of sign-up can be found at the Amazon page.
With the start of the new financial year, it is time to assess and analyze all that 2013 gave us. This post focuses on the trends and leads that SaaS development has seen in the year gone by. Businesses are continually looking for new paradigms for sourcing software functionality and Software as a Service (SaaS) is a technology that helps businesses achieve exactly this and much more. Cloud hosted or web delivered SaaS has several benefits, which are –
- Improved efficiency of the company’s processes
- Optimization of the company’s IT budget
Some of the trends that this technology has seen in the year 2013 are –
Mobile Continues to Rule
The one revolution that has taken the world by a storm in the past decade or so is the Mobile Revolution. Mobile technology and its evolution has affected the SaaS drive notably. The services that are most in demand these days are for mobile applications and for mobile marketing purposes. A drift from the desktop model to the 4-G capable environment is clearly visible and considered more right and relevant for users. The services, which have shown a drift, include internal business software and consumer services.Increased Spending of the U.S. Customers and Emerging Markets’s Customers
The year 2013 saw a considerable increase in the growth, in popularity and use of SaaS, in emerging markets. An OpenView item that was published in Jan 2013 projected a growth rate of as much as 25% for the year. While the American customers increased their tech spending, the tech spending in the European countries went low as compared to what they were the year 2012.Japan and China also saw a steady increase in their tech spending.
Cloud Hosting and PaaS
PaaS is also gaining immense popularity lately. Used as a web delivered software serving as a platform as far as functionality is concerned, Platform as a Service is used within the realm of SaaS. The beauty of this system is the fact that it is capable of supporting the development and several different forms of engineering.
In fact,Antony Kosner in his article for the Forbes Magazine, PaaStermed PaaS as a rentable backend platform. This means that the developers can access the environment for development of mobile applications easily. Therefore, it has an impact on the future markets of SaaS.
Key Industry Players
From an analysis of the market, Parrallels, Workday, Salesforce.com, Microsoft and SAP have emerged as leaders in the SaaS landscape. Although, most of these names may not be the first choice of the clients, they are still the popular providers when it comes to specific services. Their demand is realized by business leaders and executives who are capable of figuring out the kind of services or web-delivered platform, which are unique to these industry leading companies, can do for them.Replacing Internal IT Departments
Although, it is a point that is considered integral to the SaaS system, it is worth mentioning that the use of a SaaS option replaces an ‘internal IT model’. The delivered option is customized, by the local technical department, to suit the requirements of the business concerned. Therefore, the use of SaaS makes the IT departments lean as issues like upgrades and fixes can be simply transferred to the vendor.
As a business, what will you prefer – buying monthly subscriptions for software solutions or buying them in entirety? Quite obviously, monthly arrangement looks like a cost-effective approach, which is an option that only SaaS provides. You have to realize that businesses are experiencing a technological change at the moment and the fact that a SaaS approach is capable of supporting any form of business approach is the reason why the popularity of SaaS has increased by leaps and bounds in 2013.