posted by Alan Joenn on February 15, 2013
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Cloud Services and CRM

Which level of cloud service would be right for your organisation? SaaS, PaaS, IaaS? What do these terms even mean? Alan Joenn takes a look at selecting the right cloud service for your organisation in this week’s CRM Whiteboard.


Hello and welcome to this CRM video whiteboard session, today we’re going to just very briefly describe some different aspects of cloud services and the way you might use them in CRM terms.

Broadly speaking cloud services present themselves to the market in a three tier way. Some people refer to this as the stack that is built for the cloud.

At the top level, cloud services will provide Software as a Service. So ‘aaS’ in each of these levels describes ‘as a service’. By as a service this means that you’re not hosting the server yourself, you’re not hosting the equipment or the application, it’s happened somewhere else in a server farm, and you don’t need to worry about where it is or how it’s managed, as long as the service provider has the right level of certification. There’s an ISO standard, ISO 27001, which defines quality standards for people providing these services. But basically it’s taken care of. The higher up this stack you are, the less IT knowledge you need in order to run your CRM application.

So at the top level we’re running absolutely everything in the cloud. Software is the CRM application itself, whether its Dynamics CRM online,, Oracle fusion, any of the other globally available software as a service applications will be running at this level and you need no expertise in IT to run your service in this way.

The next level down is to provide the platform as a service and in this case the platform represents the tools which support the software application, and in this case we’re talking about the database manager, Microsoft SQL server or Oracle, and also the operating system, Windows or Unix, whatever database manager and operating system are required to support the software that’s running at the end user level here.

At the very bottom of this stack, is the infrastructure which supports the platform tools. So the infrastructure in this case is the physical servers, the virtual server environments which run these pieces, and all the firewall and security models that are required to protect you your excess and your data when you’re in this environment.

Now within the Collier Pickard customer base, we have people using CRM in the cloud at all three levels, and it really depends on your start point as to which aspect of cloud services are right for you, if you have a new application going in, you have no investment in CRM software, then going in at this level is perfectly satisfactory, there’ll be a subscription model here, and picking up new software licenses at this level will work for you.

If however you already have an investment in CRM software licenses which you own on a perpetual license basis however you’ve elected to say that the cost of running these services in house has become too great and I wish to move it to the cloud and you’re not wishing to lose you’ve investment in the licenses you’ve already acquired, this level will be right for you. So you take your existing software and run it on a platform as a service.

If your investment in software is even greater than that, and we have a couple of clients who fit into this category where not only do they own the software licenses, they also own Microsoft SQL Server client access licenses, in which case subscribing to a cloud service where the only service provided by the cloud provider is the infrastructure, that’s the right decision for those guys.

So you’re start point will dictate the level of service you need, but whichever level you’ve entered into (and of course the cost of subscription goes down as you move down this stack) whichever level you go into, you will ultimately be presenting your CRM application to you users through the cloud and they will access it through their browsers.

I hope this definition has been worthwhile, and that you’ve enjoyed this short video, there’s more information about CRM and CRM in the cloud at our website Thank you for watching today.

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