SaaS, PaaS, IaaS - the three sound similar, yet vastly different cloud paradigms you’re now faced with. There are all kinds of cloud computing solutions available, and doing the research is the first step toward having a functional platform. This article focuses on the three most popular types of service offerings that are on the market today – SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.
The big dilemma that’s probably on your mind is figuring out how to choose between these three options. We’ve got you covered on that as well, and after we’ve established the basic notions, we’re going to get into how you can be sure you’re making the right decision.
What are SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS?
The first thing to know about this trinity is that they are all under the same umbrella and that they are just upgrades of each other. SaaS includes PaaS and IaaS, and PaaS includes IaaS – the further you go down this ‘ladder,’ the fewer features are available to you. It’s also important to note that more and more PaaS and IaaS solutions are starting to evolve into SaaS ones. So what exactly are SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, and what are their main characteristics?
Software as a Service is the most popular offering of the three. It includes the online delivery of software applications to the buyer/customer, which can either be web apps (like Google Docs) or can be downloaded and used offline (like Adobe Creative Cloud). The choice is up to you – online solutions are better for those who work with remote teams and need to be able to access data and see edits in real-time.
Typically, the development team producing the app is tasked with the maintenance, security, management, and implementation of potential future upgrades. This means that the consumer is relieved of all duties except for sitting back and using the newly custom-created software solution.
The main advantage of SaaS solutions is that you will receive a finished product that is ready to be used with no additional effort on your part. This also means that no software development is needed. Usually, it works on the basis of monthly subscriptions, so no initial installation costs are required. What may be seen as a disadvantage is in general the higher cost of the solution as the vendor spent time and skills for development and needs to exploit it commercially. Furthermore, SaaS gives you the least control you’d have when compared to the other two options.
Platform as a Service. Understanding the difference between SaaS vs. PaaS, as we already discussed, begins with seeing PaaS as a subtype of SaaS. The main difference between the two terms is that SaaS delivers completely ready-to-use and hosted applications, whereas PaaS gives you the platform to develop your own applications. It is usually used for one of the following three scenarios:
- Development framework: for building, developing, and customizing cloud-based applications. Developers can use components that are built into the platform to create applications.
- Analytics: PaaS solutions can gather relevant data and convert it into readable insights. Those can then be used to forecast trends and improve the decision-making process.
- Application enhancement: Partnering with a reliable PaaS provider means that they can offer you services for enhancing workflows, security, scheduling, and more.
When it comes to the advantages of PaaS solutions, the most notable one is the shorter development time because the work environment is already created and configured, and it comes with ready-made tools. Other than that, it’s usually the easiest solution to scale up or down. One major drawback here is that you might find yourself in vendor lock-in, meaning that you are tied to and dependent on one single provider. You also won’t be able to use any older applications that cannot be moved to the cloud, and they might need to be refactored or rewritten.
Infrastructure as a Service delivers the foundations for PaaS and SaaS solutions. It’s the layer of managed storage, servers, and networking often used to replace its own data centers or on-premise server hosting. IaaS doesn’t include operating systems and development or analytic tools, but it does host cloud storage solutions and firewall/security systems. With IaaS, you’ll be in charge of applications, data, runtime, and middleware, while your service provider will manage virtualization, servers, storage, and networking.
The most common use cases for IaaS include the following:
- Web apps – this also includes storage and web servers. The benefit of this method is that the infrastructure is easily scalable depending on business needs.
- Big data analytics – this is something that includes distributed processing engines and high-speed databases, and providers typically offer this infrastructure as a managed service.
- Backup and recovery – storage management can prove to be quite costly, but there is a way to avoid unnecessary expenses, such as through IaaS. This is also a way to simplify the planning and management systems.
One of the biggest benefits of IaaS is that it’s much easier to manage than any on-premises solution. It also gives room for a lot more flexibility since you can install any operating system. The disadvantages here are that it requires more responsibility on your part, which in turn requires professional experience and knowledge.
How to know which one you need
The simplest answer to that question would be that you need the solution that best fits your business model and answers your requirements most precisely. The first step is, of course, reading up on which service offers which amenities and which of these are necessary for your day-to-day activities.
Another step you can take before arriving at a final decision is to consider multiple providers and then settle on one that you think would work best. This goes only for those companies who don’t have in-house IT teams and would hire external ones. Take into account their experience and expertise, of course, but also pay attention to details such as company culture and time zones.
You should opt for a SaaS solution if you want to be able to start using your product right away, as soon as you get it, and don’t have an in-house software development team that will take care of the management and maintenance of applications.
PaaS will work best for you if you want to maintain a level of control over software development but don’t want to stress about building an entire environment from the foundation up.
IaaS is the perfect solution if your business model requires you to have more freedom and control over the cloud, and you also have the resources for maintenance.
Once you’ve read up on the different cloud solutions and made a list of features your company would need from this service, you’ll be ready to get started with SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS - often it will even be a combination. This article provided you with explanations, the most frequent uses, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Hopefully, we’ve managed to bring you a little closer to your final decision.
If you’re ready…
Valcon is an international IT company that specializes in providing customers with tailor-made software solutions based on their specific requirements and business models. With years of experience using and creating SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS systems, we have what it takes to build just the right solutions to help you boost your business – no matter what branch you’re in.