Cloud Services have been the game changers in the world of enterprises. They have infused new enthusiasm in start-ups, SMEs and budding organizations with their sheer ease-of-use, low-cost operations, agile solutions and scalable models. Today more and more enterprises are moving to the cloud. In fact, a recent, Centaur Partners’ analysis of SaaS & cloud-based business application services revenue forecasts, the market growing from $13.5B in 2011 to $32.8B in 2016, attaining a 19.5% CAGR.

While most enterprises are adopting cloud services for the multi-fold benefits it offers, they are not able to fully unlock the potential of the cloud and use it as a ladder for growth.

To begin with let’s take a look at which cloud service best fits your organization’s need. The cloud has three elements: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

Software as a Service is the most mature of the three cloud service models. SaaS delivers complete applications in the cloud that you can access over the Internet with a browser. The SaaS providers have total control over the infrastructure, performance, security, scalability, privacy, and much more. SaaS vendors typically offer two ways for you to use their applications. The most common method is a web-based user interface that usually is accessible on any device that can connect to the Internet. The other way is to provide you APIs that you can integrate into your existing applications or with other SaaS solutions.

Ideally, you should opt for SaaS to outsource all applications, features, and services that are not a part of your core competency. It is ideal to outsource these services as it eradicates the efforts required to manage and maintain the infrastructure, staff and security needs for running these services. 

The biggest advantage of adopting SaaS is that you can keep pace with the changes in the world of technology and save a substantial amount of time, resources, and effort. However please ensure that you compare the value of the feature(s) that the SaaS tools provide against the TCO of building it yourself. 

Platform-as-a-Service: The second model of cloud service is Platform-as-a-Service or PaaS. PaaS provides a carefree environment for developers to work. It lets your developers focus on code and not worry about configuration and maintenance of the underlying platform. By utilizing PaaS, your team of developers simply need to pick the languages and features they want, match those requirements with a provider that has them and start coding. PaaS can reduce you cost substantially by reducing the amount of work and the number of resources required to build and deploy applications.

Infrastructure as a Service: The third model is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). IaaS does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, and deployed applications and possibly limited control of select networking components. Ideally, you should opt for IaaS when your application or service has performance or scalability requirements that require the developers to manage memory, configure database servers and application servers to maximize throughput, specify how data is distributed across disk spindles, manipulate the operating system, and like tasks.

Analyzing the Options
Now that we have outlined the options that cloud services offer, let us take a look at how to analyze 
the best fitment for your enterprise. One misperception about cloud computing is that one cloud service model fits all. However, every organization is at a different stage of its growth curve, has different needs and priorities and some specific requirement. All these have to be accounted for before choosing the right cloud service. To arrive at this decision it is necessary to assess the situation by answering the following six golden questions. These are:

Why: What problem are we trying to solve? What are the business goals and drivers?
Who: Who needs this problem solved? Who are all the stakeholders involved (internal/external)?
What: What are the business and technical requirements? What are the legal and/or regulatory constraints that we need to consider? Are there any risks involved?
Where: Where will these services be applied? Will the solution deliver location-specific requirements (regulations, taxes, usability concerns, language/locale issues, etc.)?
When: When would these services be needed? Do they fit in the budget? Are there dependencies on other projects/initiatives?
How: How can the organization deliver these services? What is the readiness of the organization, the architecture, the customer?

After collecting the information for these questions, you would be in a far better position to select the best service model and deployment model(s) for your enterprise. While there may be other key considerations, the above list is imperative for any enterprise to evaluate before making a decision.

Using the Cloud to your advantage
Let us now assume that you have made your choice and adopted a cloud solution. It is now in your hands to use it fully to your advantage and make the most of it. Here are some common use cases where you must leverage the cloud to complement your existing architectures.

Capacity Management
Leverage the cloud to handle peaks in your traffic. If you have many applications running in your data center then you may choose to send your excess capacity out to a cloud service provider instead of investing in physical infrastructure to accommodate these peaks. Example: If you experience particularly high traffic during holidays you may want to take advantage of your cloud for capacity management.

Storage in the Cloud
Traditional storage strategies involve several components of infrastructure and software such as backup tape and disk devices, various types of storage media, transportation services, and much more. You can eliminate all of these physical components and leverage cloud storage services which can be fully automated using scripts. The cost of storage in the cloud is drastically lower as compared to storage on physical storage media. The process for data retrieval also is simple, quick and effective.

Using APIs Hosted on the Cloud
The fundamental idea of using the cloud is better agility and speed to market. Cloud makes this possible by offering APIs. As many forward-looking companies share their APIs on the cloud you can utilize these to save yourself the time, cost and money to develop your own API functions. This arrangement makes business agiler and drives healthy competition for business operations. 

Data Mining and Analytics
The cloud is the best place for processing and churning large amounts of data on-demand. Not only can you store many terabytes or even petabytes of information on the cloud, you can even analyze large amounts of data without bothering about any additional infrastructure. Using cloud for data mining and analytics leads to huge cost saving.

Test Environments
Another important use of cloud is to use it as a test and development environment. Traditionally companies maintain different test and development environments on-premises, which require constant patching and maintenance. However managing these environments is difficult and moreover, they become redundant or lay idle after the testing period. For growing companies, the issue really is a limited number of environments that are available to testers and developers, who often have to share environments with other teams which make testing and development a challenge.

The cloud caters for on-demand development and testing environments. This method requires less work for the administrators, provides speed to market for the testers and developers, and can reduce costs if the environments are shut down when not in use.

Above are just some of the winning use cases for cloud services. If used efficiently, they can fuel the growth of any organization.

At CloudIO, we have witnessed the growth of our clients who have utilized the Cloud and its offerings to maximize their growth. We have designed and implemented pre-built solutions which simplify the execution of specific job functions and can be hosted on the Cloud to take advantage of the above-mentioned Cloud offerings.

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