IaaS, PaaS, SaaS (Explained and Compared)

Make absolutely no mistake about it: regardless of the type of business you’re running or even the industry that you’re operating in, the importance of cloud computing is something that simply cannot be overstated.

But for as powerful as the cloud has become, as a concept it’s also a fairly general one, too. As your own enterprise begins considering a transition into the cloud, whether it be for the purposes of application development, infrastructure deployment or something else entirely, it is of critical importance for you to actually understand the differences, the advantages and the potential disadvantages that each type of cloud services brings with it.

With that in mind, there are three main types of cloud-based solutions that you should familiarize yourself with. They are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

IaaS, PaaS and SaaS: Cloud Technologies, Explained

While all three of these concepts are undoubtedly cloud-based, they all bring something inherently unique to the table. As a kind of a broad overview, here is what each type of service has to offer:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-service offers all of the cloud-based services you need, usually available by way of a pay-as-you-go service plan. This can be a great way to gain access to all of the storage, networking and virtualization services you need, all in a cost-effective way that allows you to add resources as necessary while your business scales.
  • Platform-as-a-service, which is hardware and software-based. Instead of actually buying hardware and software resources and setting them up (not to mention maintaining them) yourself, everything you need is always available right over the Internet.
  • Software-as-a-service which, as the name suggests, is totally software-based. Instead of buying individual licenses for the apps your business needs to function, you instead pay on a user-by-user basis for access that is delivered over a network connection.

All of these are in contrast to a more traditional on-premise deployment, which means that hardware and software are set up, maintained and configured in the same building that your business operates from.

Google Apps, for example, is an example of a very typical type of SaaS deployment. Everything you need is not only available on the Internet, but can also be accessed from any device you happen to own with an active Internet connection. So you can access the same app on your desktop computer, then move to your smartphone or tablet, then move back again at will.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) would be an example of an IaaS deployment, as once again all of the storage and networking functionality that you need is delivered via the Internet.

Examples of PaaS deployments include but are not limited to things like OpenShift, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure and others.


Read more: Best Practices in SaaS Development

Essential Considerations About Your Move to the Cloud

As you can see, each of these cloud-based models offers its own specific set of features and functionality. Because of that, it is of critical importance for you to understand the differences. Just “moving into the cloud” isn’t enough to help guarantee the outcomes you’re after. You need to think about what you’re trying to accomplish over the long-term as a business, THEN try to pick the right cloud deployment to help get you there.

You also need to think very carefully about the level of management you want to subject yourself to. With an on-premise deployment, of course, you manage everything – from your applications to data to your operating system, virtualization, servers and beyond.

With IaaS you still manage things like your applications and data, but virtualization, servers and storage are all handled by a third party.

With SaaS, you manage practically nothing – it’s essentially the inverse of an on-premises deployment from a certain perspective. But again, you need to think about whether or not that actually fits in with what your organization is trying to do. Some organizations may need to keep certain elements of their infrastructure in-house (like their data) for compliance or privacy purposes, for example. Others may not have these concerns, and thus SaaS would be a far more cost-effective way to go.

Of course, you also need to think about how much responsibility you’re willing to accept over the solutions you’ve come to depend on. With SaaS, for example, updating and maintaining your applications is something you don’t have to think about, because that’s the job of your SaaS development company. You never have to think about whether or not you’ve updated your apps or patched any bugs that were discovered because all of that is essentially what you’re paying for – you always have access to the newest version of a piece of software, no exceptions. If you keep everything in-house, however, nobody is going to update your software (or fix it when it breaks) but you and your people alone.

The Most Essential Consideration of All

In the end, keep in mind that there really is no “one size fits all” approach to successfully transitioning into the cloud. If you take a look at your closest competitor, it’s very likely that you’ll see a completely different company – even though you’re essentially trying to do the exact same thing within the exact same industry.

Because of that, you need to get it out of your mind that there is “one right way” to move into the cloud. Instead, there is only the “one right way” that works for YOU and you alone. By starting with the real outcomes you’re trying to achieve and the real problems you’re trying to solve, you can then work your way backwards to the technology that will help you do all of this and more. Don’t start with the technology and hope that it manages to accomplish everything you need to, as that is little more than an efficient way to wind up with a deployment that isn’t actually built with your people, your processes or your workflows in mind.

If you’re interested in finding out more information about how IaaS, PaaS and SaaS cloud deployments work, or if you’re just curious about what SaaS solutions providers can help you accomplish over the long-term as a business partner, please don’t delay – contact Pegasus One today – A SaaS development company Orange County.