At Indatum we like to simplify things for our customers. We won’t inundate you with complex value propositions in order to explain our services or products. It is important to us that we explain things as we would to a friend over drinks, or to our moms. If the value of something is too complicated to explain over coffee it may simply be too complicated to justify. Here is our “Simplified Insight” on Cloud, SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.
What is Cloud
If you put 20 computer experts in a room, and asked them to explain the cloud, each expert would give you a different explanation. One thing all of them should agree on, however, is that the cloud is a term used to describe computers that are available for you to use in different ways over the internet. This computing power provides services such as storing your information, running programs, communicating with customers and more. The computers we refer to when we say “in the cloud” are not yours. You access them over the internet, and in most cases, you pay to use them. This cost is typically a fraction of the cost of ownership.
Simple enough so far? Great.
If you are running a small or medium-sized business and that business is not in IT, this is about as technical as we need to get when you are learning about the cloud. Leave the rest of the technical stuff to us techies.
The more important thing for you to know about the cloud is what exactly this technology can do for you as an individual and/or in your business.
The Value of Cloud Services
The value of the cloud is important to you and/or your business because it can provide your business with software, platforms, and infrastructure that can help you eliminate technical debt, increase agility, and put you on a level playing field with the largest of your competitors.
As A Service
Furthermore, as a business owner you should know that the cloud provides services that consumers (business of all sizes, and people of all ages) can use, but never have to own. These days these services are often referred to in one of three categories: “Software, Infrastructure, or Platform as a Service”, also know as SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS.
Back in the 1980’s, many leading IT firms were beginning to release services on the internet for people to share. Businesses could reduce costs by allowing their computer systems to speak to each other, which eliminated the need to hire certain personnel. We see examples of this in consumer lives when we make payments on our credit cards and those payments flow through the various banks until the funds land in the merchant’s account with little to no personnel having been involved in processing the transaction.
This model of providing online services evolved to the provision of websites for online shopping and so on. Over time, the speed of the internet has improved, and the cost of bandwidth has decreased. With this came even more powerful computers leading to the vast evolution of the world of “software as a service”. Today almost any consumer can subscribe to Software as a Service enabling them to use online software such as online accounting, online work processors and more. Businesses can take advantage of fantastic software tools that can make employees’ tasks more efficient, optimize operation, and engage employees.
Take, for example, the need of business customers to book appointments.
With cloud services, your local hair salon could easily subscribe to software allowing its customers to book appointments online. Or your local training centre could integrate this same appointment software with a payment engine and allow bookings for a course and accept payments. These options are part of the business’ capital costs, but the logistics of designing, building, hosting, and maintaining this great software do not fall on the business. Furthermore, long term commitments are not required, and calculating ROI or IRR has now been simplified if not eliminated.
Why use Cloud Services
Software such as the booking software we describe above would be considered “software as a service”. You can use it, you can customize it to look like your very own website, but you do not own it. This means eliminating the capital cost of ownership, and dramatically reducing operation costs. Just over 10 years ago, booking software of this type, would have required an investment of $100,000 or more, and hiring a team of people to maintain the infrastructure. Today those estimates could easily be doubled or tripled if you are considering integrating a custom-built PCI-compliant payment engine.
With SaaS, a training centre could have a customer-facing, internet booking service, with a PCI compliant payment engine, and payments going directly into their bank account for about $50 a month and 2.9% on payments. Now the ROI is simple. The payback period could be one day instead of 10 years. And in some examples the savings in merchant fees alone will pay back the $50 a month.
Risks and Responsibilities to Using Cloud Services
In all cases SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS offer great options for businesses to compete, stay agile, and get ahead. There are a lot of things that need to be considered outside of cost analysis. This is where we recommend professional help when you are looking for cloud services that meet your specific needs.
A professional integrator will help you to see, for example, how different cloud services can integrate with each other, how these services can cater to or improve your current mode of operations, and how easily they can be tailored to work with your business as a whole.
When using the cloud, you may not have to implement or maintain infrastructure and security, but the confidentiality of data and transactions are still your responsibility. If you choose a non-compliant payment provider, you could find your customer information being at risk, which puts you and your business in a risky situation. Storing your customer data on the cloud puts that data in other people’s hands, and still leaving you responsible for the privacy protection of that data. Sometimes your business’ cloud solutions functions and are used outside of your own country. Just be aware, the use and the storage of the related data fall under different jurisdictions and therefore different laws. You are responsible for the sovereignty points of consideration.
This is not to say using the cloud is not safe. Proper due-diligence improves privacy and compliance controls you may already have in place. We simply always advise that due diligence is well, due. And for that due-diligence, you can always call an experienced integrator.
Hi MOM!!! Look at us! How’d we do😊
Indatum is a technical consulting firm implementing successful cloud solutions.
If you need more information, or have any questions about the cloud, or any of the as-a-service topics we covered, contact us today. Let us help you leverage the cloud and its services to go-do what you do best, while we take care of the rest.