In the penultimate blog of our five-part series on the Microsoft Azure Cloud, we take a look at Azure IaaS, PaaS or SaaS and which cloud computing service may be the best for your business.
One of the benefits of moving to the Microsoft Azure Cloud is the agility it provides. It doesn’t need to replicate the exact setup you had on-premises to deliver the same or better results.
Azure IaaS, PaaS or Saas?
But amid making decisions on your cloud model, there is also the question of exactly which services your business needs to adopt as part of the transformation journey to realise its strategic goals.
IaaS: Your gateway to the Cloud
When you first migrate, you might find it is simplest to just translate what you had on-premises – the storage, the virtual machines, etc – to the Cloud using Azure’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings.
This is particularly true if there are time constraints, meaning you need to move quickly. With this approach, you simply migrate all the infrastructure operations over to Microsoft with minimal changes.
Azure IaaS can be a great first step into the Cloud. It’s more easily adaptable and with the right optimisations, more cost-effective and secure than running your own servers and associated infrastructure.
Scale up or down, here and now
Additionally, it allows you to access exactly the level of resource you require right now. You can increase or reduce your available infrastructure in seconds without worrying about ordering new hardware or installing and maintaining additional software. You also have the control to turn resources off or on as needed, which can provide cost advantages.
But IaaS can still be expensive and complex to manage. So, once you’re comfortable with the Cloud, it may be time to consider shifting to a more effective way of hosting your applications with platform as a service (PaaS) or software as a service (SaaS).
Shift up a level with Azure PaaS
Adopting Azure’s platform as a service (PaaS) offering means you no longer need to worry about the underlying technology that keeps your applications running. This infrastructure is still there in the background, but rather than spend time managing this, you can focus just on the services and applications that sit on top of it.
With PaaS, Microsoft takes on the responsibility of managing and maintaining the virtual infrastructure. The underlying infrastructure simply scales with your needs as you add or remove the services your organisation requires.
Azure PaaS – putting development first
Azure’s PaaS capabilities are a good choice if you’re concerned with software development, database management and business analytics.
This all means you can avoid the hassle and expense of maintaining your virtual machines, managing software development tools and licensing.
Beyond simplicity and cost, Azure PaaS saves on coding time for developers as a lot of the low-level work they need to do when you manage your own infrastructure is already done for them.
While the benefits of changing from Azure IaaS to PaaS are clear, deciding whether it’s the right move is a decision only you can make. Factors you’ll need to consider include:
- Current resources – Will your existing application vendors continue to offer support as you adopt a PaaS environment? Is work required on your existing applications and data before it can be migrated into a PaaS deployment (e.g., SQL Databases)?
- Your budget – Moving to PaaS offers a great opportunity to optimise costs. So, selecting the right architecture and deployment options is essential. You may also want to take advantage of new capabilities that incur additional cost.
- Organisational priorities – Changes to your Cloud model should be driven by business need. For example, if your focus as a business is to build apps to innovate, PaaS may be the best option for you over SaaS or IaaS.
Simply software, simply SaaS
If PaaS doesn’t meet your needs, Azure’s software as a service (SaaS) offering is even more straightforward.
Forget running your own exchange server to handle your email or worrying about pushing out the latest Microsoft Office updates to all your employees’ computers. Instead, you simply subscribe to the software you need at a price that matches your organisation’s requirements and everything else is handled for you.
Enjoy the convenience of subscription
A Microsoft 365 subscription for example, will give you software like the Office suite for productivity, Outlook and Exchange for email and calendars, Teams and SharePoint for communication and collaboration and OneDrive for file storage and more.
Microsoft offers SaaS products like Dynamics 365 and the 365 suite. Like all the company’s online offerings, they’re built on top of Azure. You can use your own Azure resources to build and host custom SaaS apps for your teams.
All software updates are handled automatically. This leaves your people to benefit from accessing their work on their chosen devices thanks to Microsoft’s mobile, tablet and web apps at no additional cost or effort to you. They simply log in from wherever they are and everything is there.
Security as standard with SaaS
Another benefit of Azure SaaS is security. SaaS software providers apply patches as required, without you having to keep on top of the latest security news or worrying that applying a patch might cause unwelcome side effects for your users.
Because you’ll be giving up the legwork of installing and operating software yourself, it doesn’t mean you’ll lose control of how that software is used. Admins can set policies to control aspects of how employees use software and the features they can access, just as they could when you were running everything off your own servers.
Set admin rights
With Azure SaaS, you can also retain control over assigning different levels of admin rights. For example, in Microsoft 365, a Teams admin can manage that service’s settings. But they can’t perform actions such as resetting user passwords or adding new domains to your package.
Whether PaaS or SaaS appeals to you, or whether you want to stick with IaaS for complete control over your resources, the range of options available represents how Azure can fit your computing needs. And if those needs change, Azure is agile enough to respond quickly to changes in demand.
Join the cloud revolution to better leverage Azure
If you’re still considering Azure IaaS, PaaS or SaaS or simply want more information on Microsoft Azure Cloud, join us at our on-demand Cloud Revolution event. Hear first-hand how businesses are powering their digital transformation with Azure and learn how you can unlock the power of Azure.