SPI: The Underestimated Foundation4 Sep, 2014 By: Rick Braddy, SoftNAS
Even with the growing popularity of cloud computing, some companies are still hesitant to move their mission-critical data to the cloud. Cloud computing and the “as a Service” model has grown so much that it's lead to the creation of the term “XaaS,” meaning either “everything as a service” or “anything as a service” – and they mean “anything” - from integration as a service to data as a service to encryption as a service to storage as a service – the possibilities of the cloud service sector are endless.
Even with the growing cloud computing services available, there's still doubt about relying on the cloud. An understanding of fundamental cloud services is not only necessary to understand the model, but also to understand the growth of the technology. There are three major services that make up the foundation of the cloud services model and serve as a point of reference for the new upcoming services: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), also referred to as SPI.
IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS serve as the layers of system that make up cloud computing. In all three models, as with cloud services in general, the cloud computing company owns the services and equipment, is responsible for maintenance and provides consumers with access to a service in the cloud through internet or another public connection. IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offer similar benefits: flexibility, cost effectiveness, availability and less maintenance upkeep. However, the uses and functions of the different layers of the SPI model vary greatly.
At the base of the SPI model is Infrastructure as a Service. IaaS acts as a foundation for platforms and software by providing computing infrastructure that users can build on. The servers, network and data storage are hosted on a multiple servers and networks across data centers, all of which the IaaS provider is responsible for maintaining. This gives clients with fluctuating requirements for infrastructure the ability to take advantage of the pay-per-use model to adjust their subscription to the infrastructure as needed. Several companies such as VMware, IBM and Google offer infrastructure as a service. But according to Gartner's “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service,” Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the clear leader of IaaS, followed by Microsoft. Gartner describes AWS as “a cloud-focused service provider with a very pure vision of highly automated, cost-effective IT capabilities, delivered in a flexible, on-demand manner.”
Platform as a Service is the next layer of our SPI model. PaaS simply provides a cloud platform that users can build applications on using the features and tools made available by service providers. With PaaS, clients have a bit more responsibility for the integrity of the system than with IaaS and Saas since PaaS consumers are responsible for the operations of their applications. One of the top PaaS companies is Apprenda, a private cloud stack that is deployable anywhere and has multi-tenant infrastructure and application multi-tenancy. Other popular PaaS providers include Microsoft Azure, Heroku, and also AWS.
Software as a Service is the model in which an application is made available to users over a network, such as the internet where consumers can pay for the application by use. Popular SaaS providers include Google, Salesforce, and SoftNAS. In fact, SoftNAS Cloud offers business data storage in the cloud and on Amazon Web Services where it's currently the best-selling Network Attached Storage (NAS) application. One of the unique capabilities that makes SoftNAS Cloud popular is that it makes managing CIFS and NFS – common file sharing protocols – on AWS an easy process.
Secure and Reliable
With providers such as AWS, Apprenda and SoftNAS providing innovation and security through the SPI model, the hesitancy about adopting the cloud comes down to one thing: an underestimation of what cloud computing is now capable of.
One of the major concerns with cloud computing is the reliability of the cloud. Clients wonder about the dangers of losing critical information and spending valuable time and money to get systems back and running in case of a failure. But now, cloud technology is capable of providing security that's as good, if not better, than traditional non-cloud services. In fact, a 2011 “Security and Cloud Best Practices,” report by Aberdeen Group found that on average, companies that used cloud had only 2.1 hours of downtime compared to the 8 hours of average downtown that companies that didn't use cloud experienced. For example, SoftNAS brings a 99.999% reliability rate with the implementation of high-availability to ensure companies don’t suffer through any downtime.
It's because of this reliability that companies like The Street are moving operations to the cloud. At this point, the fear of an unreliable cloud computing environment is at odds with the reality of cloud computing innovations and technology.
Rick Braddy is the CEO of SoftNAS and former CTO of Citrix. He is an innovator, leader and visionary with more than 30 years of technology experience and a proven track record of taking on business and technology challenges and making high-stakes decisions. For company info visit http://www.softnas.com.