How would you explain IaaS, PaaS, SaaS to your Mom?

~Cloud-Difference-ImageCloud computing is a buzzword that means different things to different people. Now, good think is that we all are getting aligned on standardized definition and approach, however you may still get silo responses.

My mom had asked me that everyone is talking about cloud now a days, what does that mean? I said instead of using your own hardware and software for compute as a utility, you could access shared pool of resources (compute, storage, network) per your requirement over the internet in a seamless way. Oops, what a complicated definition for a non tech person:)

Then I said most of us use cloud computing when we search something, or checks emails or Facebook at our PC or Surface (oh yes Kindle, and iPads, and chromes:))…and then she asked what is storing data in cloud? What if cloud bursts (security flaw)? Some genuine questions, and I started thinking about the easy way of explaining it to her without using the IT buzz words. Knowing her, I knew kitchen/ food terminology would resonate with her. You could use the same analogy to explain it to your in-laws, kids, or not so techy people. I also warn you that some geeky people may argue about my logic, but I hope it will make sense in landing the message. Here’s the story goes between my mom and I: 20140203-grains-wheatberries

Do you remember the days when your parents/ grandparents used to farm (or bought wheat grain), or stored year long supply of grains in their storage? And used to prepare food per the veggies or grains (say wheat) farmed or stored in their premises. Understand that concept with on-prem environment where you buy the hardware/ software, manage it, store data at your own hard disks and keeps the control.


Then you started buying Wheat Flour. You had selected the wheat flour based on your quality checks and price points. In this case you were not worried about farming the grain, or buying the grain and then go to flour mill to get the flour of your chosen grains. This was convenient, you didn’t have to worry about storing quintals (100 Kgs+) of grains, and then a hassle to go to a mill. You could buy small packets of 10Kgs wheat flours in a regular interval per your need. Remember, in this case, you lost a control of wheat quality but of course you could find the standard quality wheat flours per your price point and vendor/ manufacturer. Compare this with IaaS (Infrastructure As a Services). Think different flour manufacturer with various IaaS providers like Microsoft, Amazon, Rackspace, OpenStack, VMWare. [You can spin up VMs, image it per your requirement, dev/ test it, store the back up, or site recoveries, have a hybrid solutions with devices like StorSimple and connect from site to site, or point to site, direct tunnel/ Express route.]

Now there is an option to buy readymade rotis (Wheat flour breads/ naans). It’s so convenient that you bring it home, and heat it and ready to eat. Oh, yes you don’t know which quality of wheat flour was used,DSC09240 so you lose that control. You buy the number of rotis you need (scale up/ out), whenever wherever and consume it. Understand that with PaaS (Platform as a Service). Now think about Microsoft Azure, Google, and many more. [develop your applications, websites (web/ worker role) without provisioning VMs, or containers and worrying about managing them]

Of course you can go to restaurant, and order entire meal. You don’t know the subtle details, but you get lot of choices and get the desired food per your order. Pay for what you Indian Restaurant Westchester NY.jpegorder/ use, and there is a standard quality (SLA) per the brand restaurant you choose. Think about SaaS (Software as a Service). Now you could say, I want Daal and curry to go as have rice/ naans at home. That could be Daal as a service or curry as a service…think Database as a service, and so on. From O365, or Salesforce and list is too long. I hope your mom likes my recipe, and let me know if I need to adjust some ingredients:)