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The Cloud infrastructure comprises reliable services delivered via data centres and built on powerful servers. It can be subdivided into three levels of service access:
- Software as a Service (SaaS): an application is available on demand from an SaaS provider and is consumed via a web browser. The vendor provides the application and the computing power, storage and infrastructure required to run it (directly or via a third party)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): computing power, storage and networking infrastructure is provided, as with SaaS, but in addition, a computing platform is provided, obviating the need for an entire virtual machine to be built
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): outsources servers, software, data centre spaces and network equipment via virtualisation techniques to provide a complete hosted environment.
SaaS (Software as a Service) or hosted solutions, provide the choice of deploying and managing software as traditional on-premises, off-premises with a partner and/or off-premises with an online service. Hybrid models that mix and match services to reflect business needs and existing IT skills and infrastructure are becoming increasingly popular.