There are many Cloud Services Providers (CSP) available on the market, each offering various solutions, benefits, and pricing. So how do you choose the right CSP for your organization? The answer depends on the size of your organization, internal technical resources, the types of applications and systems you want to host, and the nature of your business.
For large organizations or technology companies with significant internal technical resources, a global provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure would be a good solution. AWS is the dominant provider of IaaS and PaaS on-demand cloud computing platforms. AWS allows subscribers to have at their disposal a full-fledged virtual cluster of computers, available online, all the time. MS Azure, while second to AWS in market share, is newer and more intuitive. The platform is Microsoft centric. It provides SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems.
When comparing the two, AWS is ideal for organizations that need access to significant amounts of computing power, or to host large server farms such as an eCommerce sites or web based applications. AWS does require technical skillset and a thorough understanding of the platform to configure and manage systems. MS Azure is ideal for organizations who are traditionally a “Microsoft Shop” with all core business systems running Microsoft applications including server and workstation operating systems, Office applications, email and web servers. Because Microsoft is the developer of the most popular business software applications, as well as the provider of cloud services through Azure, it has a unique advantage in its offering relative to other CSPs. Azure is very intuitive, but it still requires an internal technical skillset and understanding of the platform. For these reasons AWS and Azure are the better option for larger organizations who have adequately IT staff skilled.
For small to medium sized organizations with minimal internal IT resources, a Managed Cloud as a Service (MCaaS) model is the best approach. Most Managed Services Providers (MSP) have evolved their service offerings to include Managed Cloud. Typically these MSPs are local or regional providers serving small to medium sized organizations with complete outsourced IT services such as Managed IT, Cloud, or Security.
The customer contracts with an MSP, which provides both the hosting and management of the Cloud services. Most MSPs offer an IaaS or SaaS hosting solution, which is either owned and operated by them directly, such as OSIbeyond eXos platform, or provided through a third party partner. In this instance, the MSP is a reseller of platforms, such as Microsoft Office 365.
Microsoft has had an extensive market share in business productivity applications over the last several decades, with a significant number of organizations using the Office suite of applications. Therefore, the Office 365 SaaS solution has become the dominant platform providing productivity software and service subscriptions for e-mail and social networking services through hosted versions of Exchange Server, Skype for Business Server, SharePoint and Office Online. For organizations that have traditionally used Microsoft applications, the Office 365 platform provides users with the same familiarity of productivity applications.
G Suite (formerly Google Apps) is the third largest SaaS platform. Provided by Google, G Suite comprises Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, and Google+ for communication. It also offers Drive for storage; Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Sites for collaboration. G Suite offers a range of services that are comparable to Office 365, but in a completely web based platform.
For organizations that do not use Windows computers with Office applications, such as Apple Mac environments, G Suite provides users with powerful productivity tools accessible via the internet through a web browser. However, for Windows based environments, the interoperability with Microsoft products may not be optimal. For example, using Gmail for email with an Outlook email client will not be the same experience as using Exchange email with Outlook. Therefore, an organization should carefully evaluate their needs as well as consider their individual situation when evaluating a cloud service provider.
Written by: Payam Pourkhomami, President & CEO, OSIbeyond