Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cloud Computing: Software as a Service and Platform as a Service

New age of software development has come finally, with coming of SAAS(Software As A Service) and PAAS(Platform As A Service supported by AJAX, WEB 2.0

We have been hearing about Cloud Computing quite a few number of times in the business news, technical blogs, etc. Cloud Computing is very important for an organization, especially taking into account of the present state of economy.

Now you do not have to worry about upgrading to new hardware according to the standards in the industry. Now i believe no one in the industry must have "computer industry" forced upgrade of h/w or s/w.

A Traditional Software Installation Environment:

  • A user acquires the software from the internet/cd/external media.
  • The s/w to be installed has minimum Hardware Requirements, Software Requirements.
  • Check if the present system is compatible with the requirements of the software to be installed.
  • If YES, install the software and use it.
  • If NO, upgrade the present hardware the system is running on and then install and use the software.

The normal users generally get angry when they are required to upgrade their systems to the frequently changing technology.

Now Software As A Service comes into picture. The software is hosted as a WEB SERVICE by the developer of the software. In this scenario the user just logs in and uses the service.

The famous examples of Software As A Service include:

  1. Google Docs.
  2. Office Web Apps (Online Microsoft Office).
  3. SAP Business ByDesign, etc.

Here the user does not have to install any software in particular to use the service. The SAAS applications only may few software requirements (such as compatilbe web browser, JavaScript running web browser, flash/silverlight,etc).

These type of software services are in high demand as the Organizations can cut costs, as they have no requirement of upgrading their systems.

Advantages with SAAS:

  1. A single instance of software is used by an entire organization.
  2. No Software Upgrade.
  3. No Hardware Upgrade required when updating the service.
  4. Accessed over internet from anywhere in the world.
  5. No installation of Software required.
  6. Service can also be leased instead of buying the entire Software.
  7. Low system requirements(may run even with a low cost Netbook).

Issues with SAAS:

  1. Privacy: It is a major issue as the data is stored at a Server and all the clients interact with the server. If there are issues with browser, the security may be compromised.
  2. Reliability: If the server hosting the service is down, the entire organization must suffer the outage.
  3. Bandwidth requirements: To use the service optimally, we may require good bandwidth.
  4. Integrating with existing software/services: The existing software and services in the organization may require changes or changes in the SAAS is required to integrate into the existing system.

Platform As A Service:
PAAS is a combination of computing platform(the system on which the code is executed) and development environment(solution stack: OS, web server, database, etc) offered as a service

This means as a Developer or a End User you get to use a Platform available on the Web as a service. Google App Engine, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud are two popular PAAS services that are popular presently.

Microsoft has jumped into these waters with its "Azure" Cloud Computing Services. It was recently announced in the Professional Developers Conference 2009 (PDC 2009)

What does this mean for a developer?
  • No istallation of Developement Environment on developers PC to BUILD, TEST and RUN the Applications.
  • All code is executed remotely on the server and the result is displayed onto the system.
  • No need to upgrade present systems to latest H/W as the H/W infrastructure is being hosted remotely.
  • Can develop applications irrespective of Clients side system (environment required on the client system to run the developed APPLICATION).
  • All the client needs is a secure internet connection to use the service.
  • Developer can as well develop software using a small low configuration netbook instead of a workstation.
Microsoft has showcased its prowess in this field by building Dell Cloud Computing Servers at the PDC 2009.

Intel also has its plans for the "Cloud Computing". It has already developed a 48 Core Processor: Single Chip Cloud computing Processor the "SCCP"

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