One of the most welcomed features of cloud computing is the hands-off management that it offers its users. Software as a service (SaaS) allows you to have all of the features of on-premise applications without the management and maintenance they would normally require. But cloud hosting is not limited to SaaS, and many other forms of cloud computing require variable levels of management.
Some types of cloud computing require you to maintain your own applications and data but provide the platform, operating system, and virtualization technology out of the box. This is commonly called Platform as a Service (PaaS). Therefore, while it does offer some degree of management, it also requires you to take more interest in managing certain aspects of it yourself.
Another type of cloud computing is even less managed. With it you get a packaged infrastructure: hardware, networking, and data center services, but the actual platform, operating system, applications, and data are all your own. This is commonly called Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). It helps you save on infrastructure maintenance costs but gives you the freedom to manage your servers however you like.
Even within each type of cloud hosting, there are varying levels of management that your provider may offer. For example, some SaaS providers may allow application customization while others will not. Some platform providers may offer OS updates but others may expect you do perform your own within your virtual machines.
As cloud computing gains popularity, some have suggested that standardization needs to be implemented. There are some companies that claim to offer cloud services, but they are really just web hosting accounts dressed up as “the cloud”. When you choose a cloud service provider, you need to know what you are getting out of the deal and what type of management is covered.