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Different types of Cloud Computing

Cloud means different things to different customers. Here are some definitions for the different types of cloud computing to help navigate tough conversations.

By Pat Harper, Chief Technology Officer, Catalis

At the recent Catalis Sales Kickoff, the issue of cloud computing came up.  I thought I’d discuss the different types of cloud computing services and provide some definition and description around each.

Cloud computing, or cloud-based software can mean different things to different clients depending on their experience. Different cloud models might include virtual servers, containers, and/or serverless computing. It can also mean various combinations of each as each model has its own unique features and benefits.  At Catalis we take advantage of all models depending on the application/solution, where the product resides within its lifecycle, and our strategy around the product.

  1. Virtual Servers:
    Virtual servers, also known as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), are cloud-based servers that mimic the capabilities of physical servers. They provide users with complete control over the server environment, allowing them to install and configure any software they need. Virtual servers are ideal for applications that require full access to the underlying operating system and hardware resources. Catalis often uses this model when we acquire on-premise systems that need to transition into a hosted or cloud model quickly.  The transition to this model from premise-based solutions often involves moving from fixed, physical servers and network devices to virtual servers in AWS.

Advantages of IaaS include:

  • Complete Control over the server environment.
  • Flexibility in customizing or configuring the infrastructure according to needs.
  • Ability to Scale resources up or down as needed.

Disadvantages of IaaS include:

  • Greater responsibility for management of the infrastructure.
  • Potential for increased complexity and cost.
  1. Containers:
    Containers, also known as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), are lightweight, standalone software packages that contain everything needed to run an application, including code, libraries, and dependencies. They are ideal for applications that need to be deployed quickly and require a high degree of portability across different environments. Containers will often abstract an application from the underlying infrastructure so that an application can run in different environments.  Containers are also very efficient, as they allow multiple applications to share the same resources, without interfering with each other.

Advantages of PaaS include:

  • Reduced development time and effort
  • Increased productivity and efficiency for developers
  • Simplified deployment and management of application

Disadvantages of PaaS include:

  • Limited flexibility to customize the platform
  • Reliance on the PaaS provider for platform updates and maintenance
  1. Serverless Computing:
    Serverless computing, also known as Function-as-a-Service (FaaS), is a model where the cloud provider takes care of all infrastructure management, including server maintenance and scaling. Developers simply provide code for individual functions, which are then executed on demand. (Often referred to as microservices) This model is ideal for applications that have unpredictable workloads or require rapid scaling, as resources are automatically allocated as needed.

Advantages of FaaS include:

  • Reduced infrastructure management and maintenance
  • Faster development and deployment times
  • Automatic scaling of resources based on demand

Disadvantages of FaaS include:

  • Limited control over the underlying infrastructure
  • Limited runtime environment for executing functions
  • Increased complexity for developing distributed systems

Dynamic computing is a term that refers to the ability of cloud-based software to automatically allocate and adjust resources as needed, based on demand. This can apply to any of the above models, and is a key benefit of cloud computing services, as it allows applications to scale up or down as needed, without requiring manual intervention.

Overall, each cloud computing service model has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. The choice of model depends on the specific needs and requirements of the application or workload. IaaS provides greater control and flexibility, PaaS offers faster development and deployment, and FaaS offers greater automation and scalability.

Should anyone need further explanation or assistance in dealing with a client on cloud computing services, feel free to contact me or any of your vertical development leaders for assistance. We are always happy to help!

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