The term “cloud services” is a broad category that encompasses the myriad IT resources provided over the Internet. The expression may also be used to describe professional services that support the selection, deployment and ongoing management of various cloud-based resources.
Cloud services describe a wide range of offerings, from infrastructure to software applications.
The first sense of cloud services covers a wide range of resources that a service provider delivers to customers via the internet, which has broadly become known as the cloud characteristics of cloud services include self-provisioning and elasticity; that is, customers can be provided services on an on-demand basis and shut them down when no longer necessary. Additionally, customers typically subscribe to cloud services under a monthly billing arrangement, for example, rather than pay for software licenses and supporting server and network infrastructure upfront. In many transactions, this approach makes a cloud-based technology an operational expense, rather than a capital expense. From a management standpoint, cloud-based technology lets organization access software, storage, compute and other IT infrastructure elements without the burden of maintaining and upgrading them.
Today, the usage of cloud services has become closely associated with common cloud offerings, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Regarding SaaS, it is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, especially the internet. There are some examples, such as: G Suite – formerly Google Apps – Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and Workday. In terms of PaaS, it refers to the delivery of operating systems and associated services over the Internet without downloads or installation. This approach lets customers create and deploy applications without having to invest in the underlying infrastructure. Some examples include Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure – which refers to its PaaS offering as Cloud Services – and Salesforce’s App Cloud. When it comes to IaaS, it involves outsourcing the equipment used to support operations, consisting of storage, hardware, servers and networking components, all of which are made accessible over a network. You can see some examples including Amazon Web Services, IBM Bluemix and Microsoft Azure.
The second sense of cloud services involves professional services which allow customers to deploy the variety of cloud services types. In this context, cloud services might include any or all of the following offerings, such as: customization, private and public cloud integration – hybrid clouds and ongoing management. Companies which specialize in cloud services have become an attractive acquisition target for large IT service providers; for instance: Accenture, IBM and Wipro – that seek expertise in cloud consulting and deployment.
In addition, cloud services are sometimes deemed synonymous with web services. These two fields, although related, are really not identical. A web service often provides a way for applications or computers to communicate with each over the Worldwide web. Therefore, web services are generally associated with machine-to-machine communications, while cloud services associated with scenarios in which individuals or corporate customers consume the service – users accessing office productivity tools via a SaaS-based application.