How to Choose the Best Cloud Computing Software for Your Small Business

opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.

SaaS, IaaS and PaaS are popular cloud computing software that we use to create, create and store information through the cloud. This software helps us to build, host and manage all business activities on the Internet. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t interact with at least one of these three types of software – so we need to have a basic understanding of what this cloud computing software does and how we can use it even better for our business activities. Below, I’ll break down exactly how SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS work and give you some tips on how to choose the best cloud computing software for your business:

Related: Choosing the Right Cloud Platform for Your Startup

SaaS: Software as a Service

Software as a Service (SaaS) is existing cloud-based software created by a (SaaS) company and made available to the general public over the Internet. SaaS products are available through either a subscription or a one-time payment. It can also be free.

As a business owner, you often use SaaS products to manage your business documentation and files (Google Drive), video conference with your employees (Zoom), collect and connect with prospects’ contact information (HubSpot CRM), and business Send emails to our business partners (Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, etc.).

If you follow the examples above, you’ll find that your company doesn’t need to develop its video calling software, instead paying a subscription fee to Zoom (a SaaS company). You also don’t have to bother building up internal storage to keep your business documentation like videos, images, spreadsheets, etc. Instead, you pay a one-time payment to purchase storage space in the Google Office Suite (a SaaS product).

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Also, your business hasn’t developed the content management software you use to collect leads and send marketing messages to your prospects. Instead, you paid Hubspot a subscription fee and started using this service. And finally, there is a special feature here: none of this software is installed directly on your computers. Instead, you access it directly from a website or web application. Here are five examples of popular SaaS products below:

  1. Relaxed: used for team collaboration and communication

  2. hub spot: Used for sales, marketing and customer relationship management

  3. Freshbooks: Used for corporate invoicing and accounting

  4. Zoom: Used for video conferencing and meetings

  5. Calendar: Used for meeting and appointment scheduling

See also: The Rise of SaaS: New Syllabus for Digital Gig Entrepreneurs

PaaS: Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud-based platform that provides developers with all the resources they need to build custom web applications or software without having to deal with data management and storage. Basically, what PaaS companies offer SaaS companies is a platform to build their software for you.

In other words, while you pay Zoom to use its video conferencing software, Zoom and its developers build and host their software on Google App Engine, Windows Azure, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

The simple logic here is that while you should have had the stress of hiring in-house engineers to build the software you use to manage your business, SaaS companies do it for you by providing PaaS online platforms to build, build and hosting use their software.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own software. For example, many companies build some of their web applications and software themselves and host them directly on a PaaS – but the likelihood that you won’t end up integrating a SaaS product or two is slim, if not impossible. Here are five examples of popular PaaS companies:

  1. Google App Engine

  2. AWS Elastic Beanstalk

  3. Windows Azure

  4. Heroku

  5. Appendix

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See also: Don’t miss out on these benefits of cloud computing

IaaS: Innovation as a Service

Innovation as a Service (IaaS), as the name suggests, is the focus of all activities. Simply put, it is the headquarters of all cloud computing software.

After PaaS companies have served as a hub for building web applications and software, IaaS is the main powerhouse for hosting and managing software data. IaaS uses physical servers to host and manage data in the cloud and connect it to PaaS companies via API (Application Programming Interface).

PaaS companies therefore pay IaaS companies based on the volume of storage space they use to help SaaS companies host their software. Here are five examples of IaaS companies:

  1. Amazon Web Services

  2. Microsoft Azure

  3. Google Cloud Platform

  4. IBM cloud

  5. oracle

Choosing the right cloud computing software for your small business

At some point you may have to ask yourself which of these cloud computing software you should use for your business. Should you go for a SaaS product or hire a team of developers to create all the software you should be using for your business? Should you host your enterprise software with a PaaS company or buy storage directly from IaaS? Finally, do you think your company is big enough to build its cloud storage like Meta (formerly Facebook) and Walmart?

The simplest answer is that it depends on the size, the goal, the available resources and the business model. For example, if you are a small or medium-sized business, your best bet is to leverage the quarter of a million existing SaaS products for your business activities. This allows you to focus on your business offerings instead of spending time and money constantly updating software. Huge companies like Linkedin, YouTube and hundreds of others still leverage other SaaS companies for their offerings (e.g. using Streamyard to broadcast a webinar on LinkedIn Live).

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Suppose you find that the available SaaS products are not effective enough for your organization’s workload, or perhaps less secure. In this case, you can hire a team of engineers to build the software on a PaaS company and connect IaaS like AWS or Google Cloud for cloud storage. For the sake of simplicity, I often recommend using an IaaS company that offers PaaS services such as Google Cloud Platform (Google App Engine) and Amazon Web Service (AWS Elastic Beanstalk).

Now that we’ve broken down how SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS work, you can make a more informed decision about what would be the best path for your business. Consider all possibilities and remember to also consider size, goals, available resources and your business model before making this decision.

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