PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS: Understanding Cloud Platforms

For companies of all shapes and sizes, managing and operating cloud platform services is becoming an increasingly important part of a business in the online world. While most would agree that shifting to a cloud-centric operating structure is necessary, many don’t know the difference between the various types.

If you are considering moving your business operations to the cloud, you must select a cloud platform that fits your unique needs and functionality. Not all cloud frameworks are built the same – some are best for application use, others for infrastructure deployment. As you begin to consider your options, do your homework and select the pathway that is best for your current and future needs.

This article will break down the basics on the top three most common cloud services:

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Each comes with its own set of unique characteristics and uses – perfect for various business operations. As you learn the difference between each, you can better plan which option will be best suited for your organization.


PaaS (Platform As A Service)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers cloud-based operations for using application software of the three most common cloud services. The framework of a PaaS creates a system that developers can use to build and deploy customized applications suited for a variety of purposes.

When using a PaaS, users access the necessary servers and storage – as well as networking options – through an enterprise platform while developers maintain application development and management.

The primary difference in the delivery of a PaaS is the use of a platform rather than delivery via internet-based software. However, the platform is located on the web, which gives developers the freedom to access and operate on the platform without needing to deal with infrastructure, operating systems, and storage.

Common examples of PaaS are:

  • Windows Azure
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • Google App Engine
  • Apache Stratos


Why Should I Choose PaaS?

With a PaaS, businesses and organizations can develop and deploy applications known as middleware, which allow for personalized and customized scalable solutions. This allows for fast and easy access to the entire application development process and can help streamline workflows for developers and speed up the deployment process.

Regardless of your company’s size or style, a Paas can bring many unique advantages worth considering, such as its cost-effective development process, scalability, automation, and reduction in the need for cumbersome coding and software maintenance.

SaaS (Software As A Service)

One of the most popular cloud service types is known as Software as a Service or SaaS. With a SaaS, an organization can use the internet to access applications directly via the cloud – where third-party vendors deliver the applications.

The significant benefit of a SaaS is that most applications are developed and delivered directly through a web browser. This removes the need to download and run any installations for clients. With instant browser-based access, companies do not have to worry about IT management and maintenance of applications on individual client computers. The third-party vendor will handle nearly all issues downloading and installing applications on each individual computer. With SaaS, vendors manage all potential technical issues, including data, middleware, servers, storage, and more.

Common examples of SaaS are:

  • Google Workspace
  • Dropbox
  • Salesforce
  • Cisco WebEx
  • Concur


Why Should I Choose SaaS?

With nearly everything involved with a SaaS operating over the cloud, SaaS applications allow for near-instant access to information without the need to invest and maintain infrastructure. SaaS is popular with companies and organizations as they cut down on time and IT needs – adding speed and flexibility to application use.

SaaS is an excellent option if you are looking for a cloud solution that keeps all information managed from a single, centralized location and reduces the need to operate infrastructure. With no need to update software or hardware, your company can focus on the more critical tasks at hand.

IAAS (Infrastructure As A Service)

The final version of cloud services to understand is IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service. These cloud infrastructure services are a fully self-service infrastructure that allows for monitoring networks, storage, computers, and more. IaaS is great for companies looking to utilize cloud-based infrastructure resources as they are needed, rather than buying and implementing full hardware solutions – saving time and money.

Common examples of IaaS are:

  • DigitalOcean
  • Linode
  • Rackspace
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Cisco Metapod
  • Microsoft Azure


Why Should I Choose SaaS?

Rather than implementing inefficient on-site resources such as servers, storage, and networks, IaaS brings those same resources to companies via a cloud computing infrastructure. By utilizing virtualization technology, companies can operate various intricate operations and services with their resources via a cloud-based data center operated through an API.

While SaaS and PaaS are focused on reducing the bloat of unnecessary management and resources, IaaS clients will need to remain responsible for the runtime and management aspects of their cloud system. However, modern IaaS systems are highly flexible, easy to automate for deployment, and scalable as your organization grows.

Choosing The Right Platform For Your Business Needs

Each style of cloud service available today offers various uses to reduce hardware and software management and help companies as they move to a digital-first operation. Understanding each style’s differences can help you better choose a type that fits your organization’s needs at the moment.

There may be times when your company requires the use of two or more cloud services. For example, you may want access for your team members to the popular cloud-based computing applications provided by SaaS, while your infrastructure may one day benefit from the virtualization of IaaS. Working with a cloud service expert can help you better understand the benefits of each, and how you can take the steps necessary to implement one for your business or organization.

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