Cloud Options 101: Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, SaaS, or PaaS?

Cloud Options 101:
Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, SaaS, or PaaS?


There are a lot of options these days for cloud offerings.

If you are looking for a deep dive into the complexities underneath the covers, this document might be a bit too 101 level for you. We’ll discuss here at a high level, some of the different terms used to discuss cloud options, and some of the major players as well.


Simply put, the old joke goes “there is no cloud, there’s just somebody else’s computer”; this is pretty accurate, really.

This is more of a marketing term than a hard definition. Cloud refers to someone else’s data center, usually (more to come on this…); where usually some level of virtualization is in play. By some level, I refer to the many layers of virtualization in use today: from hardware, to OS, to network and storage, and I/O.
To back up a minute, a data center I will assume is a construct we all understand. Basically it’s an empty building with power, climate control, and high speed (hopefully) redundant internet feeds into which companies (or a single company) puts their servers and storage.
Most of the websites we know and love, live in someones data center, somewhere. Space in a data center can be rented out to store YOUR systems, that you move there, or ‘bare metal’ servers onto which you load whatever you like. Or, as we will discuss, the operator or Cloud Services Provider (CSP) may have a proprietary layer, or a ‘platform’ they offer to run certain types of applications.
So if you have an application, and want to run it somewhere else, not on site, that’s moving to the cloud, no matter the vagaries or the options used.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud is a mixed solution; mixed, in that it means there is some software that still runs on premise, and some that runs in the cloud.
Hybrid: This doesn’t mean necessarily splitting applications, though sometimes that is done, this is just a general term referring to a situation where not everything is moved to the cloud.

SaaS: Software as a Service

SaaS, or Software as a Service, is where one accesses a ‘canned’ software product that just simply runs in the cloud, and is delivered via browser. The most obvious example of this is, though there are countless others.

PaaS: Platform as a Service

Finally, we have PaaS, or Platform as a Service.
While a little more involved than other cloud options, there are CSPs that offer platforms for .net applications, Linux applications, specialized IBM centric applications requiring DB2, WebSphere, and more. The licensing for the application subsystems (database, OS, web app servers, etc.) is included in the base metered price.

Which cloud options are right for you? 

Reach out for a consultation with us, and we’ll help you begin the journey to find the best cloud options for you.