December 08, 2009 // By: Benjamin Blaume
Heavyweights in the IT world – including Google, Microsoft, and SAP – are backing cloud computing. But don’t managers get nightmares at the thought of business data floating on high? SAP.info examines the issues surrounding cloud computing.
Cloud computing isn’t just hype, as steadily increasing sales reveal, in Germany as well as in other countries. With an average growth of 37% forecast for the next three years, cloud computing is the fastest growing sector in the IT and telecommunications industry. According to Gartner, global sales in 2008 topped more than U.S.$46 billion, and by 2013, this figure is slated to increase to over U.S.$150 billion. So, let’s take a look at the IT services available with cloud computing.
Cloud computing services can be divided into three areas: IaaS (infrastructure as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), and SaaS (software as a service). All three have in common the fact that they are offered as IT services through the Internet and are usually invoiced according to use. IaaS comprises the provision of virtual hardware and basis infrastructure. Examples of IaaS include Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) service and cloud-enabling technologies and services from HP. Customers use virtual server capacities from the cloud and only pay for as much as they actually use.
PaaS offers software providers a development platform with a direct connection to the cloud. Providers such as Microsoft (with the Windows Azure platform) deliver technical frameworks (databases, middleware) and enable customers to develop software that hooks up with other technology platforms using standardized interfaces.
With SaaS, the software provider ships its product to customers using the Internet. Users don’t need their own hardware. Instead, they have a subscription for the application and run it using their Web browser. An example of SaaS in the business environment is the SAP Business ByDesign solution, which will finally become widely available in 2010. In the consumer segment, Web mail and photo album services are the most widely used SaaS applications.