Microsoft’s cloud platform offers all three cloud computing service models. Office 365 provides Software as a Service (SaaS) while Microsoft Azure provides the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (SaaS) offerings.
As a business, it is important to select the right cloud computing service model for each service or application in your IT environment as each comes with specific costs, risks, and benefits.
Choosing the right service model
SaaS for commodities and utilities
Ideally, all your commodity applications which give you no real differentiation or competitive advantage, such as email, file sharing, and online collaboration, should be deployed to a Software as a Service platform.
SaaS apps have proven business benefits, reduced costs, and lower management and maintenance overheads. For example, there is no strategic advantage to managing and maintaining your own email platform. Email is a commodity or utility service which needs to be functional and available at all times. Deploying your email to a SaaS platform creates a robust and resilient service which frees up your IT team to focus on adding value instead of being hamstrung maintaining operational infrastructure.
IaaS for migration and exceptions
From a strategic point of view, you should use Infrastructure as a Service as sparingly as possible because it is the most expensive of the three cloud computing service models.
IaaS has higher direct cost and indirect costs such as management and maintenance overheads. Cloud migration projects are good IaaS projects. Moving on-premise servers to an IaaS platform ensures continuity of service without much disruption to operations. However, once the migration is complete, commodity-type applications should be moved to SaaS, and applications which create differentiation and build competitive advantage should be migrated to PaaS.
Unique applications or services which require a dedicated IaaS server do exist, and there will always be a case to use IaaS in this instance. However, the key is to keep your IaaS cloud footprint as small as possible to reduce cost and increase efficiencies over time.
PaaS for unique custom solutions
Platform as a Service falls neatly between IaaS and SaaS. It gives you the control, flexibility, and configuration abilities of IaaS and the reduced cost and increased efficiencies of SaaS.
PaaS achieves this balance by abstracting the effort of dealing with servers, operating systems, and networks by providing a fully functional environment and takes care of the underlying infrastructure. By freeing you up from infrastructure maintenance, this fully managed platform lets you focus on the business side of your application’s functionality and scalability.
Therefore, PaaS is the perfect cloud service model to deploy solutions that differentiate you from your competitors and provide you with a unique competitive advantage.
Azure App Service = Enterprise PaaS
Microsoft Azure’s App Service offering is an enterprise-grade, fully managed platform which gives you all the functionality you need to deploy custom developed applications and services. It enables you to create web apps, mobile apps, logic apps, and APIs for any platform or device and easily integrates these with other solutions.
Multi-platform support and seamless integration make the Azure App Service platform the logical choice for any organization wishing to deploy custom-built applications and services. Even though this is a Microsoft product, the Azure App Service supports all the leading coding platforms including .NET, .NET Core, Java, Ruby, Node.js, PHP, and Python.
Also, Azure App Service is capable of seamless DevOps with support for services such as Visual Studio Team Services, Bitbucket, Docker Hub, and GitHub, letting you implement continuous integration so you can reach the pinnacle of efficiency while providing your customers with the latest updates and features.
As it is a fully managed platform, Azure App Service gives you the benefits of high-end infrastructure services like load balancing and automated scaling so you don’t need to configure, manage, and maintain the underlying services providing the solution.
Azure App Service allows you to build, manage, and maintain enterprise-grade web apps with support for multiple languages and platforms in conjunction with all the other features provided by the App Service platform.
Seamless integration is possible with prebuilt connectors so you can rapidly deploy functionality to your application. Connectors are wide and varied and range from simple HTTP communication to integration into third-party services such as Salesforce and Twitter.
The mobile app platform supported by the Azure App Service gives you the freedom to rapidly deploy engaging cross-platform and native apps for iOS, Android, Windows, or Mac.
Azure mobile apps can help you build customer engagement with broadcast push functionality, and because they run on the Azure platform, mobile apps can autoscale to support millions of devices. If Identity services are needed, these are prebuilt with support for the social authentication services provided by Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
The Logic Apps provided by the Azure App Service platform lets you build enterprise-grade business processes and workflows which integrates into other apps and services. Azure’s prebuilt connectors also allow you to seamlessly integrate with other services reducing the challenges often faced with enterprise integration solutions.
The Azure App Service also gives you a robust ecosystem for building, managing and integrating APIs. Securing your applications and services is simple with support for Azure Active Directory, single sign-on, and OAuth. In addition, the App Service allows you to safely and securely consume external APIs with full CORS support.
Azure App Service is a true Platform as a Service
If you need to build and deploy any service or application, Azure App Service has you covered.
With all the standard Azure enterprise features of scalability, resiliency, and flexibility, you can safely build any app on any platform. Prebuilt integration services provide your end users with a seamless and secure experience and, as this is a fully managed platform, you can concentrate on delivering the functionality businesses and users need while Microsoft manages the underlying infrastructure.