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Cloud 101: Part 1 – Cloud Service Models


Cloud service models to fit your business needs. An introduction to IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS to help you embrace the benefits of cloud-based systems.

In a white paper by David Blewitt, VP of Cloud Compliance at USDM, he predicted that 2020 would be a big year for cloud in the life sciences industry. He didn’t foresee that a pandemic would kick digital transformation into high gear, but he did point out the inherent benefit and decreased burden of risk with today’s cloud systems. With business continuity on the minds of the C-suite, there are still some life sciences outliers that haven’t embraced the benefits of cloud-based systems.

There are three basic cloud options: private, public, and hybrid cloud. A private cloud is hosted on a company’s intranet or data center and the data is protected behind a firewall. All of the management and maintenance is the company’s responsibility. A public cloud is hosted in the provider’s data center (for example AWS or Google Cloud) and the provider is responsible for management and maintenance. A hybrid cloud is the combination of on-premises infrastructure and private or public cloud services. For example, sensitive data might be kept in a company’s own data center behind a firewall, but the public cloud is used for applications like Microsoft Outlook for email and Box for content management.

In addition to the advantages of cloud-based systems for reducing the cost of ownership, no infrastructure to maintain, and less overhead, the cloud also offers continually released new functionality, and when used and developed correctly, can keep pace with innovation. Additional advantages are mobility and access anywhere, the ability to connect devices anytime, and security. Microsoft spends more than $1 billion each year on cybersecurity for its core technologies like Windows, Office, and Azure. Not long ago, companies didn’t want to move to the cloud because of security. These days, companies move to the cloud because of security.

Cloud vendors perform much of the upfront groundwork for their customers when it comes to qualification and validation, making it easier to onboard new applications and leverage the vendor’s validation activities.

Cloud Service Models
Cloud computing can be divided into three service models, each satisfying a specific set of business needs: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS delivers the hardware for cloud services, including servers, networking, and storage (for example, AWS and Rackspace). With IaaS, the cloud service provider owns and manages the hardware upon which your software stack runs.

IaaS can be a great cost-reduction strategy if you want to avoid purchasing and maintaining infrastructure.1 It allows complete control over your infrastructure and operates on a pay-as-you-go model, so it fits most budgets. It’s also a great way to future-proof your business.2

Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS gives you everything available with IaaS, plus the operating system and databases (for example, and Microsoft Azure), which means less work for your IT team. Your organization is still responsible for applications, functions, and data.1

PaaS is often the most cost-effective and time-effective way for developers to create a unique application because it allows them to focus on the creative side of app development, as opposed to menial tasks such as managing software updates or security patches. All of their time and brainpower will go into creating, testing, and deploying the app.2

Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS offers the most support, providing your end users with everything except for their data.1 It’s very likely that this is already part of your organization if you use CRM software (like Salesforce), cloud-based file storage (like Box), eSignatures (DocuSign), and email applications (like Outlook or Gmail).

Chances of something going wrong with a cloud-based application are small, but if something does go wrong, it’s up to the SaaS provider to find a solution.2

The type of service you choose (IaaS, PaaS, and/or SaaS) depends on your available infrastructure, IT staff resources, cost considerations, and cloud security needs.1 In USDM’s digital cloud portfolio, we address various combinations of solutions.

Whether you need help getting started with a SaaS vendor or ensuring that every layer of your tech stack complies with FDA and global regulations, USDM has the solutions for your regulated workloads.

Cloud 101 Blog Series
In Part 2 of the Cloud 101 blog series, we talk about vendor management and scaling to the cloud.

1 Intel, IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS: cloud service model overview (Q3 2020)
2 Big Commerce, IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS enter the ecommerce vernacular: what you need to know, examples, & more (2018)

Additional Resources

White Paper: Regulatory Risk Reduction in the Cloud: Why Cloud Systems are Safer Than On-premise Systems
Solution: Digitally Transform Your Life Sciences Business


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