Information technology (IT) decisions at the small business level can be very challenging; traditional server-client models are often a poor solution for small businesses that need flexibility, scalability, convenience, and support at a manageable price. Cloud-based services are great alternatives for many, but the proliferation of these services can be overwhelming. Here’s how to know if your small business is ready for the cloud.
Types of Cloud-Based Service Models
The three service models on the cloud are infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). Each shifts the responsibility for managing the technology to the service provider, freeing up the business owner to focus on his or her own operations.
With IaaS, businesses no longer need to provide space and cooling equipment for network infrastructure; network resources are accessed on demand similar to the way a business uses electricity. PaaS is a step up the technology stack to the operating system, database, and programming language, allowing developers to focus more on applications.
SaaS is the most comprehensive model; the software is accessed through an application program interface (API). SaaS models are extremely efficient solutions for Customer Relationship Management applications (CRMs), financial and accounting applications, and even logistics.
Determining the Right Service Model for Your Business
Depending on the size of your organization, your first decision is build versus buy. Do you have the resources to write code or hire someone to write it for you? If not, SaaS is often an excellent decision, provided it’s affordable and meets core business needs.
The IaaS versus PaaS decision is more nuanced and influenced by scalability and performance. PaaS solutions have resource limitations that vary by client that make them less practical for high scaling/high performing applications. The advantage of PaaS is that it speeds time to market; however, PaaS is not as mature as IaaS. IaaS is best for companies that need a great deal of control due to security or performance reasons.
The Advantages of SaaS for Small Business
For many small businesses, time and ease of implementation are key requirements for software solutions. SaaS solutions are easy to implement, and most businesses are up and running in no time. SaaS solutions are also usually very user-friendly and intuitive, shortening the training and adaptation cycle. In addition, SaaS applications are upgraded at the vendor level, and all end users have access to software upgrades at the same time.
SaaS is a powerful player in healthcare; it’s at the forefront of development and implementation of the electronic health records mandated by the Affordable Care Act. For healthcare providers and health-related small businesses, SaaS offers turnkey solutions focused on the unique needs of these businesses.
In the end, all businesses need IT solutions to effectively power their internal operations and stay competitive in a fast-paced business environment. Business owners who want more insight into informatics and IT decision making can turn to online degree programs at Adelphi University, for example, to gain necessary knowledge to guide the technology side of their business.