Nov. 7, 2022 · 10 minutes
There are three common models of cloud service to compare: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Each of these has its own benefits, as well as variances, and it is necessary to understand the differences among SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS to know how to choose best one for your organization.
Software as a Service, also known as cloud application service which represents the most commonly utilized option for businesses in the cloud market. SaaS utilizes the internet to deliver applications, which are managed by a third-party vendor, to its users. A majority of SaaS applications run directly through your web browser, which means they do not require any downloads or installations on the client side.
Due to its web delivery model, SaaS eliminates the need to have IT staff download and install applications on each individual computer. With SaaS, vendors manage all potential technical issues, such as data, middleware, servers, and storage, resulting in streamlined maintenance and support for the business.
SaaS provides numerous advantages to employees and companies by greatly reducing the time and money spent on tedious tasks such as installing, managing, and upgrading software. This frees up plenty of time for technical staff to spend on more pressing matters and issues within the organization.
There are a few ways to help you determine when SaaS is being utilized:
SaaS may be the most beneficial option in several situations, including:
SaaS may be the most beneficial option in several situations, including:
These are several popular examples of SaaS, including: Google GSuite (Apps), Dropbox, Salesforce, Cisco WebEx, SAP Concur, and GoToMeeting.
Cloud platform services, also known as Platform as a Service (PaaS), provide cloud components to certain software while being used mainly for applications. PaaS delivers a framework for developers that they can build upon and use to create customized applications. All servers, storage, and networking can be managed by the enterprise or a third-party provider while the developers can maintain management of the applications.
The delivery model of PaaS is similar to SaaS, except instead of delivering the software over the internet, PaaS provides a platform for software creation. This platform is delivered via the web, giving developers the freedom to concentrate on building the software without having to worry about operating systems, software updates, storage, or infrastructure.
PaaS allows businesses to design and create applications that are built into the PaaS with special software components. These applications, sometimes called middleware, are scalable and highly available as they take on certain cloud characteristics.
No matter the size of your company, using PaaS offers numerous advantages, including:
PaaS has many characteristics that define it as a cloud service, including:
Utilizing PaaS is beneficial, sometimes even necessary, in several situations. For example, PaaS can streamline workflows when multiple developers are working on the same development project. If other vendors must be included, PaaS can provide great speed and flexibility to the entire process. PaaS is particularly beneficial if you need to create customized applications. This cloud service also can greatly reduce costs and it can simplify some challenges that come up if you are rapidly developing or deploying an app.
Data security. Organizations can run their own apps and services using PaaS solutions, but the data residing in third-party, vendor-controlled cloud servers poses security risks and concerns. Your security options may be limited as customers may not be able to deploy services with specific hosting policies.
Integrations. The complexity of connecting the data stored within an onsite data center or off-premise cloud is increased, which may affect which apps and services can be adopted with the PaaS offering. Particularly when not every component of a legacy IT system is built for the cloud, integration with existing services and infrastructure may be a challenge.
Vendor lock-in. Business and technical requirements that drive decisions for a specific PaaS solution may not apply in the future. If the vendor has not provisioned convenient migration policies, switching to alternative PaaS options may not be possible without affecting the business.
Customization of legacy systems. PaaS may not be a plug-and-play solution for existing legacy apps and services. Instead, several customizations and configuration changes may be necessary for legacy systems to work with the PaaS service. The resulting customization can result in a complex IT system that may limit the value of the PaaS investment altogether.
Runtime issues. In addition to limitations associated with specific apps and services, PaaS solutions may not be optimized for the language and frameworks of your choice. Specific framework versions may not be available or perform optimally with the PaaS service. Customers may not be able to develop custom dependencies with the platform.
Operational limitation. Customized cloud operations with management automation workflows may not apply to PaaS solutions, as the platform tends to limit operational capabilities for end users. Although this is intended to reduce the operational burden on end users, the loss of operational control may affect how PaaS solutions are managed, provisioned, and operated.
Popular examples of PaaS include AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku, Force.com, Google App Engine, and OpenShift.
Cloud infrastructure services, known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), are made of highly scalable and automated compute resources. IaaS is fully self-service for accessing and monitoring computers, networking, storage, and other services. IaaS allows businesses to purchase resources on-demand and as-needed instead of having to buy hardware outright.
IaaS delivers cloud computing infrastructure, including servers, network, operating systems, and storage, through virtualization technology. These cloud servers are typically provided to the organization through a dashboard or an API, giving IaaS clients complete control over the entire infrastructure. IaaS provides the same technologies and capabilities as a traditional data center without having to physically maintain or manage all of it. IaaS clients can still access their servers and storage directly, but it is all outsourced through a “virtual data center” in the cloud.
As opposed to SaaS or PaaS, IaaS clients are responsible for managing aspects such as applications, runtime, OSes, middleware, and data. However, providers of the IaaS manage the servers, hard drives, networking, virtualization, and storage. Some providers even offer more services beyond the virtualization layer, such as databases or message queuing.
IaaS offers many advantages, including:
Characteristics that define IaaS include:
Just as with SaaS and PaaS, there are specific situations when IaaS is most advantageous.
Startups and small companies may prefer IaaS to avoid spending time and money on purchasing and creating hardware and software. Larger companies may prefer to retain complete control over their applications and infrastructure, but they want to purchase only what they actually consume or need. Companies experiencing rapid growth like the scalability of IaaS, and they can change out specific hardware and software easily as their needs evolve. Anytime you are unsure of a new application’s demands, IaaS offers plenty of flexibility and scalability.
Many limitations associated with SaaS and PaaS models – such as data security, cost overruns, vendor lock-in and customization issues – also apply to the IaaS model. Particular limitations to IaaS include:
Popular examples of IaaS include DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metacloud, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine (GCE)
Each cloud model offers specific features and functionalities, and it is crucial for your organization to understand the differences. Whether you need cloud-based software for storage options, a smooth platform that allows you to create customized applications, or complete control over your entire infrastructure without having to physically maintain it, there is a cloud service for you. No matter which option you choose, migrating to the cloud is the future of business and technology.
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