eDiscovery Daily Blog
Public or Private Isn’t the Only Question You Should be Asking about Cloud Solutions: eDiscovery Best Practices
In yesterday’s post detailing the discussion of industry experts regarding the adoption of cloud technology within the legal industry, several points of discussion were discussed, including the differentiation between “public cloud” and “private cloud”. It’s important to know the difference between the two implementations and why you might consider selecting one over the other (and what you need regardless of which one you select). But, public or private cloud isn’t the only question you should be asking about a cloud solution.
To begin to understand what we’re talking about, it’s important to define three terms typically related to cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS):
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model that delivers computer infrastructure on an outsourced basis to support enterprise operations. Typically, IaaS provides hardware, storage, servers and data center space or network components.
- Platform as a service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage web applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app.
- Software as a service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the Internet.
This diagram, courtesy of the site virtualclouds.in, does a good job of illustrating examples of each.
As you can see, the software application residing on top of the cloud platform and infrastructure are separate and unique and don’t necessarily have to be from the same provider. Sometimes they are, like in the case of Office 365 hosted in the Microsoft Azure platform; other times they aren’t, like in the case of Salesforce.com hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Here’s another diagram, courtesy of YourDailyTech, which illustrates the different components to the solution and what you manage in a) an on-premise implementation, b) an IaaS implementation, c) a PaaS implementation and d) a SaaS implementation.
As you can see, there’s a lot of components to manage. A lot of organizations are managing many (if not all) of those components anyway to support various internal needs for their organizations, but many organizations are turning to IaaS, PaaS and SaaS implementations for at least some of their solution choices. The choices they make are based on several factors, including costs and security requirements. There’s no right or wrong answer here – each choice can be appropriate depending on the organization and its needs.
However, you know the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? Well, that holds true for cloud solutions as well. Whether you favor a public cloud or a private cloud approach, you still have to vet the software provider on top of that public or private cloud infrastructure. Obviously, when evaluating comparable software solutions, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that you should look at the features of the different solution choices and evaluate them against the needs of your organization.
But, you shouldn’t stop there. You also want to evaluate the companies offering the different solution choices as well. How long has each company been in business? What’s the average tenure of their top leadership team? What’s the average tenure of their support and services teams? You don’t want to select a “fly-by-night” company that could be gone tomorrow or a company that has a “revolving door” in key positions where you’re continually dealing with someone new in support or services. Familiarity breeds…comfort – not contempt (at least when it comes to a cloud SaaS provider).
So, what do you think? How closely do you vet the SaaS company providing the solution in a cloud solution selection? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
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