IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS: Which One is Best for Your Business?

As more and more organizations consider switching their business assets to the cloud, it is important to understand the differences between the three models of cloud service: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). By comparing IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS, you can choose the best model for your organization.

IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS

As you can see with the below diagram, with an on-premises, non-cloud system your organization takes care of everything, from the servers to the software. With IaaS, your servers and storage are taken care of with virtual, cloud servers. With PaaS, cloud service providers also supply the middleware. And with SaaS, third party providers supply everything, including the software.

IaaS_PaaS_SaaS

Let’s take a deeper look into each option.

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS is sometimes referred to as “your data center in the cloud.” With the IaaS model of cloud services, third party providers host virtual hardware equipment such as servers and storage systems. IaaS providers may also take care of associated services such as ongoing system maintenance, data backup and business continuity.

Organizations that use IaaS are typically billed on the amount of storage they need, which are tabulated by the hour, week or month, depending on the service contract. This makes IaaS platforms highly scalable IT resources. If your organization grows, you simply need to pay for more storage rather than buy costly hardware. If your organization shrinks, you can reduce that storage. You also don’t need to maintain an IT staff solely dedicated to run servers.

This model is particularly attractive to small businesses and startups that may be growing, and companies that experience temporarily high workloads, like retailers during the holiday shopping season. However, you have to be careful to monitor your usage. In the metered world of IaaS, you only want to pay for what you need.

Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine (GCE).

IaaS offers many advantages, including:

  • Easy to automate storage, networking, servers and processing power
  • Avoids wasteful spending because server/storage is based on consumption
  • Clients retain complete control of their infrastructure
  • Highly scalable

PaaS: Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivers a platform to clients, which lets them develop, run and manage their business applications. Like IaaS, PaaS comes with virtual servers, storage and networking. But with PaaS, developers also have the tools to build customized software without having to worry about operating systems, software updates, storage or the underlying infrastructure.

PaaS is a pay-as-you-go service.

PaaS has many advantages, including:

  • Resources can easily be scaled up or down as business changes
  • Saves time and money with developing or deploying in-house apps, and significantly reduces the amount of coding needed to create them
  • Streamlines application management, and lets multiple developers work on the same project more efficiently

Examples of PaaS include Google App Engine, OpenShift, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Windows® Azure.

SaaS: Software as a Service

When you consider IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS, Software as a Service is likely the most familiar to you. This is the most common cloud model used by businesses, and provides a wide variety of individual software applications such as email and collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), billing/payroll processing, sales management, human resources management, financial management, database management, enterprise resourcing planning (ERP), content management and document editing and management.

Organizations typically pay for SaaS applications via a subscription fee on a monthly or annual basis, often based on the number of people using the application, or the number of transactions that are run. Because of this fee structure, one of the major advantages to SaaS is its ongoing scalability and the ability to add or subtract users as needed. Since the apps are delivered via the web, SaaS also eliminates the need to have IT staff available to download and install applications on each individual computer, and third party vendors manage all potential technical issues. This allows IT staff to spend their time on more pressing, organizational matters.

Examples of SaaS include Google Docs (and many common Google apps such Google Calendar), DropboxTM, Cisco WebexTM and Salesforce.

SaaS has many advantages, including:

  • Applications can be accessed anywhere, and on mobile devices
  • Organizations can access many applications, including those used infrequently
  • Apps are always kept up-to-date; no need to install patches or updates
  • Scalability and cost savings

IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS

Each cloud model, whether you are considering IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS offers specific features and functionalities. Whether you need cloud-based software for storage options, a platform to develop customized applications, or complete control over your entire infrastructure, there is a cloud service option for your organization.

Still not sure? At Single Path, we work with many small-to-medium sized businesses, school districts and other organizations to help them find the cloud services best for them.

Contact us to learn more about how to move your assets to the cloud.

The Google Calendar Phishing Scam, and How to Avoid It.

While there are millions of phishing scams, every now and then a particular threat emerges that does more damage (and gets more publicity) than most. The recent Google Calendar phishing scam, which first gained attention last May, is the latest to gather national attention, and hurt more people and organizations than the average cyber threat.

What is the Google Calendar Phishing Scam?

A few months ago, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs revealed how scammers were weaponizing the Google Calendar and other Google services. As Wired explained in a recent article: “Phishers have realized that they can take advantage of seemingly innocuous calendar settings to plant their own events laced with phishing links on victims’ schedules.”

In the Google Calendar phishing scam, scammers send a wave of calendar event invites to Google Calendar users, where they are automatically loaded onto each calendar. That’s why so many of us use a Google Calendar: it’s easy for anyone to invite you to a meeting, from an office mate to a friend (or a scammer). Once the invite is sent, you get an automatic calendar notification which further legitimizes the phony calendar event. Spammers use the location and topic fields of those invites for enticing text, such as informing you of an award or cash payment, with a phishing link. If you click on the link you are taken to a form asking for your banking or credit card information, often to “verify your identity” before you can claim your fake reward. These same notifications may pop up on your device repeatedly, until they are clicked or deleted.

As Maria Vergelis, a security researcher at Kaspersky explains, “The ‘calendar scam’ is a very effective scheme, as currently people have more or less gotten used to receiving spam messages from e-mails or messengers and do not immediately trust them. But this may not be the case when it comes to the Calendar app, which has a main purpose to organize information rather than transfer it.”

Phishers can use the same calendar strategy to invite you to a fake meeting and send you a link “to RSVP.” As TechRadar warns, “These fake invitations could include a malicious link that could not only be used to steal login credentials (like a standard phishing attack), but also to provide other sensitive information, such as how to gain access to a building where the ‘meeting’ is due to take place.”

Google is aware of this problem and is “working diligently to resolve this issue” according its online help forum. At the moment, however, there’s no estimated timeline for when people can expect a fix. 

How to Protect Yourself from the Google Calendar Phishing Scam

Google Calendar users can protect themselves against unwanted invites that are part of the Google Calendar phishing scam through the Google Calendar app itself.

  1. In Google Calendar, click the “gear” icon on the top right and select Settings.
  2. Scroll down to Event Settings and select the option “No, only show invitations to which I’ve responded.”
  3. Also, under View Options, make sure that “Show declined events” is unchecked, so those events don’t continue to show up even after you’ve rejected them.

Unfortunately, these precautions aren’t perfect, because they limit some Google Calendar functionality, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What Comes Around

In 2016, Apple Calendars were affected by a ploy that was a harbinger of the Google Calendar phishing scam. During the holiday season some Apple Calendar users received a flood of spam invites to holiday sale events for major brands including Ray-Ban®. There were warnings at that time that cybercriminals could use similar methods to send phony invites with links to viruses, and for identity theft. It took a few years, but it seems those predictions were right, but with spammers using Google Calendars.

Protect Yourself with Single Path

Being smart about technology is the first step toward protecting yourself and your organization from schemes such as the Google Calendar phishing scam. For example, our earlier article Have I Been Hacked? 6 Ways to Tell If You’ve Been Hacked can help you detect if your computer has been hacked. Also, if you know how to perform a routine cyber security risk assessment, you can figure out your technology vulnerabilities, and take proactive action now. At Single Path, that’s what we do every day: give training to staff, offer numerous security solutions to stay out of cyber-trouble, and provide consulting services on how to recover when cyberattacks happen. Let us help you and your organization stay safe, and scam-free.

Ask us how to get started.

SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business: Which is Right for You?

Nearly all North American organizations (97 percent) use the cloud, whether for back up protection or big data analytics. Cloud file storage in particular is popular due to its easy storage and retrieval of files, 24/7, from anywhere and on any connected device. Companies have many platform options for cloud storage, but two of the most popular are SharePoint and OneDrive, both from Microsoft. There is a lot of confusion over the differences between SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business. Let’s evaluate the five key components of these two document management systems to help you make an informed decision on which is best for your organization.

But First, What is SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business?

Launched in 2001, SharePoint provides storage and lots more, letting users collaborate on files, documents and projects. It comes with a large range of document libraries, task lists, calendars, workflows, wikis and other features, all from a shared company web portal. 

OneDrive for Business is, in essence, a simplified version of SharePoint. (There are differences between the personal and business versions of OneDrive, but we’ll focus on the business version here.) With OneDrive, files that would usually be saved to a folder on a user’s work desktop or laptop can now be stored on the cloud, without a lot of extra bells and whistles.

  1. Collaboration and Document Management
    SharePoint was designed specifically as team collaboration software for businesses that need multiple individuals and teams to work on documents and products at the same time. Features like a mailbox, custom lists and web pages are all part of the platform. Users access SharePoint via a branded company page that can include news, calendars, tasks and more. SharePoint provides countless options for integration and customization. 

    OneDrive is typically used by individuals and business teams who need a central location to store and access files, and not much else. As a user, you are assigned a personal account in which to keep your individual documents. When you want to share a document, you email links to your team members.

  1. Web Publishing
    Many companies use SharePoint’s engine to build and maintain their company website, internal documentation and even web apps. By publishing documents directly to the organization’s branded website, you can make them available for access and download by customers or employees. There are also internal analytics tools to build help documentation, FAQ pages, add customizable features and more 

    With OneDrive, while you can email links to documents, you cannot publish those documents directly to a web page from the OneDrive platform. You’ll need Office 365 or another CMS/website platform to publish your work publicly.

  1. Security
    SharePoint provides much greater control of user access. You can specify various access privileges to restrict which team members are allowed to view certain files or information. This is a great option for sharing information within teams or divisions, and restricting what information can be shared outside these groups. 

    With OneDrive, any user with the right link can access your files without logging in. This increases the chances of confidential data loss or theft.

  1. Setup and Training
    With SharePoint, you need the right expertise to set it up correctly. This means you may need to consult IT specialists who are more familiar with the software. SharePoint also requires training to fully understand it, and use it. 

    OneDrive is intuitive; most users with web or file sharing experience can get started immediately.

  1. Pricing
    SharePoint has high monthly costs, and the initial cost of infrastructure, license and customization can also be substantial. 

    You get what you pay for! While both OneDrive and SharePoint have subscription models, OneDrive fees are significantly less expensive.

SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business–Which Should You Choose?

If you’re looking for collaborative document management system for your business, SharePoint may be the ideal solution. But if you’re looking for individual back up protection and storage only, OneDrive should do the job. If you’re still unsure when deciding between SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business, it might be better to consult an expert. At Single Path, we regularly meet with small-to-medium size businesses, schools and other organizations to determine the optimal solutions for their unique needs, from managed cloud services to security solutions. We’ll find the best service providers, reduce costs, improve accessibility and back it all with attentive, personalized support. We help you make a smart choice when looking at SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business, and more.

Ask us how to get started.

On-Premise vs. Cloud Storage: Which is Best for You?

On-premise storage means that you use your own server hardware and software, likely stored in your building, to house your data. Cloud storage, on the other hand, resides in remote servers across town or across the country. Which option is best for your organization? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of on-premise vs. cloud storage.

Initial Costs

On-premise data storage necessitates high startup costs. Each server will cost thousands of dollars, and you may need to hire a professional IT company to set it all up. Evaluating, purchasing and installing the equipment may also be time consuming: it may take months to fully integrate a new server.

The cloud, however, demands far less of an initial financial investment, and can typically be launched immediately.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Initial Costs Winner? Cloud storage. Easy.

Extra Costs

On-premise costs are unpredictable, such as repair costs, which can be excessive. Systems also must be upgraded regularly and require regular maintenance. Some companies delay or avoid that regular maintenance which can eventually lead to operational downtime and loss of data.

On-premise storage costs also include:

  • Powering a single server, for instance, can cost over $1,000/year, per server.
  • The cost of ongoing depreciation, and server replacement can be substantial. Servers typically last for about six years, after which they may become obsolete and need to be replaced.
  • Mainframe equipment, for example, may need a full-time IT professional or a team to manage servers and troubleshoot.

Cloud storage providers, on the other hand, have a very different payment model. They charge by the amount of data you need stored, charging you a set fee every month, like a subscription. Generally, that will be your only cost, as the provider is responsible for upgrading its technology and installing the latest security protocols, upgrades and advances. The savings can be substantial: SherWeb conducted a study in which it found the average cost of an on-premise server was $1,476.31 per month, while the average cost of a cloud server was $313.90 per month. But, high storage needs means high fees. Organizations that need several Petabytes of data storage often find monthly cloud services costs are so high they’re prohibitive.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Extra Costs Winner? Probably the cloud, but It depends on how much storage you need.

Scalability

On-premise scalability can be difficult. If your data storage demand grows, new equipment may need to be ordered, paid for, and installed before the storage can be used. When you include labor, testing and downtime while making the upgrades, the costs and time add up. If you need to reduce your storage, you’re still stuck with the same equipment.

With cloud storage, however, more storage means simply purchasing more storage space, which you can use immediately. You can also reduce your storage needs, and monthly fees, when you don’t need as much storage. However, you’ll want to check that storage amount every now and then. Many organizations tend to overbuy their cloud storage space. A 2017 report from RightScale showed that $900 million of cloud storage spend was wasted every year.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Scalability Winner? Cloud storage, but only if you buy the right amount of storage.

Security

On-premise storage may be more secure, but not always. First of all, no storage is going to be 100% effective at keeping data safe. But local servers are less accessible to hackers than cloud storage (breaches across the cloud are regularly reported by the media). And a survey from Nexsan found that only 58% of IT professionals “considered access to files away from the office to be ‘private and secure’.” And when it came to sharing files outside of the business, only 3% did. Local servers are also at risk from fire, natural disaster and theft.

Cloud security, on the other hand, can be impressive. According to the Annual Cloud Computing Survey (2017), U.S. businesses using the cloud rank its security as a top benefit. And nearly 70% of U.S. businesses that use the cloud feel more comfortable storing data there than on a legacy system. Encryption and other security tools can go a long way to making cloud storage more secure.

The On-Premise vs Cloud Security Winner? Clearly, it depends on who you speak with, but if you use a trusted vendor, like Single Path, to set up and manage your cloud storage, you should feel confident your cloud storage is just as safe as keeping it local.

Accessibility

In 2017, 43% of Americans spent at least some of their time working remotely (According to the NY Times), and that number is rising. The ability to work off-site has been shown to increase productivity, operational efficiency and business agility.

For on-premise storage, however, accessibility is limited. Getting and sharing files can be slow and difficult.

With cloud computing, accessibility is a major advantage. Since data exists “in the cloud” any gadget connected to the Internet can access it, anywhere, at any time.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Accessibility Winner? This is an easy one. Cloud computing.

The On-Premise vs. Cloud Storage Winner Can Be You

While cloud storage has many advantages in many areas, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. While most small-to-midsize companies will find significant cost savings with cloud storage, others may find their exorbitant amount of data makes cloud storage too expensive. If you’re unsure, call us. At Single Path, we help clients navigate their server options every day, including helping them get on the cloud, secure their data, and modernize their systems. We provide Managed Cloud Services for many organizations, from businesses to school districts. So, which option, on-premise or cloud storage, is best for you? Call us and let’s find the best solution.