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SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: The Difference and Examples

With the growing use of cloud environments, an increasing number of companies are abandoning on-premises IT solutions in favor of cloud-based platforms, IT infrastructures, and applications. However, how does this manifest itself in reality, and what are the distinctions between the different service models?

Discover the differences between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS and how they contribute to the creation of a cloud computing environment that is customized to your specific requirements. Additionally, we’ll look at some instances to help you understand how as-a-service alternatives fit into your existing IT environment and what advantages and drawbacks to anticipate.

What are the differences between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS?

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are the acronyms for Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service, respectively. Each offers a different method for using the cloud in your company. The service models are not mutually exclusive but do include certain aspects of IT administration, offering an alternative to on-premises self-managed IT solutions.

Unlike conventional solutions, which need you to maintain your own infrastructure for IT and proprietary applications, IaaS offers a pay-as-you-go model for networking, storage, and virtualization. Additionally, PaaS encompasses other services such as tools for software and hardware development that are accessible through the web. Additionally, by “renting” whole software solutions through SaaS, you get the greatest level of vendor management.

The table below shows the differences between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, and the degree of vendor management you will receive for each of these models.

On-Site

SaaS

PaaS

IaaS

Application

Application

Application

Application

Data

Data

Data

Data

Runtime

Runtime

Runtime

Runtime

Middleware

Middleware

Middleware

Middleware

Operating System

Operating System

Operating System

Operating System

Virtualization

Virtualization

Virtualization

Virtualization

Servers

Servers

Servers

Servers

Storage

Storage

Storage

Storage

Networking

Networking

Networking

Networking

Green – Indicates that the service provider manages them.

Blue – Indicates that you manage them.

Difference between SaaS and PaaS

Platform-as-a-Service is utilized to enable the development of new products on top of a network that already exists. However, SaaS goes a step ahead. SaaS solutions are maintained completely by the vendors offering them and are immediately available for usage by your staff.

So, when should you opt for a PaaS solution over a SaaS solution? PaaS makes sense I f you want to build a payroll application that is specifically customized to your human resource requirements, Platform-as-a-Service offers all of the tools you will ever need for succeeding in your quest. When your product is complete, it may be classified as SaaS. If, on the other hand, you want out-of-the-box simplicity, a payroll software such as Quickbooks is a preferable choice.

Difference between PaaS and IaaS

Infrastructure-as-a-Service enables you to have significant control over the operating systems you want to use. It serves as the basis for the environment of cloud computing. Whereas, with Platform-as-a-Service, you may develop applications without hosting them on-premises, giving you more freedom but a bit less control.

The optimal service model for you is determined by your enterprise’s requirements. For instance, if you’re building a website, an IaaS solution such as Amazon Web Services or Digital Ocean, or Vultr may offer the infrastructure necessary to host the site and its related applications. If, however, you want to add new features, a PaaS solution such as Google App Engine not only hosts your website but also enables your engineers to build and launch bespoke applications.

Difference between SaaS and IaaS

With a SaaS or Software-as-a-Service offering, you get the maximum amount of software administration and maintenance from the vendor offering the software. By contrast, with Infrastructure-as-a-Service, the supplier provides and maintains just essential components such as storage and servers.

The model that will be ideal for your company is largely dependent on your objectives. If you need complete control over your cloud environment and wish to prevent external management data problems that may jeopardize the functioning or your data’s security, IaaS is the ideal choice. If, on the other hand, you need little flexibility and prioritize simplicity of use, moving to a SaaS solution is a better and logical option.

Okay, now that you have learned about the basics and the differences between the different as-a-service models, it is time that we take a closer look into each option and understand the different aspects of each model.

Makes Sense?

Let us begin.

SaaS or Software-as-a-Service

Definition of SaaS

SaaS is an acronym for Software-as-a-Service. The most popular kind of cloud computing is comprised of these comprehensive cloud application services. They always come as a ready-to-use product, and often operate straight via the web browser that a client uses. This completely eliminates the need for downloads and installations.

SaaS is a cloud-based application that is hosted on distant servers and is completely managed by a third-party vendor. The vendor is also responsible for its updates, and maintenance. This results in less accountability for the end user. However, it also means the least amount of control for the end user, who needs to work only with the available features.

Delivery of SaaS

SaaS is a fully functioning service that can be remotely accessed through any web browser, enabling customers to operate from any location. Users access the program using an API call or a dashboard and depend on the SaaS provider for support, middleware, bug fixes, and any other technical problems that may arise.

When should you use SaaS?

SaaS is an excellent option for small businesses and startups who lack the resources necessary to build software applications by themselves. SaaS is the fastest and simplest way to go from short-term projects to ecommerce solutions provided you are not in need of apps that are highly specialized. SaaS is also an excellent choice for programs that are not often utilized, such as tax software.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SaaS

SaaS has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Here is a quick list of benefits and disadvantages that a SaaS provides:

The Pros

  • Ease of use: Without the need for download and/or installation, SaaS is simple to use and has built-in best practices.
  • Integration: Numerous SaaS solutions integrate with other SaaS services, eliminating the need to purchase additional servers or software.
  • Lower Costs: SaaS applications are often hosted in a multi-tenant or a shared environment. When handled properly, licensing costs are lower than those associated with conventional models.
  • Scalability: SaaS solutions can be scaled up or down to meet your unique requirements.
  • Upgrades: You immediately benefit from updates and new software releases when you use SaaS.

The Cons

  • Data security: Due to the transmission of huge quantities of sensitive data with off-premises servers, compliance and security may be severely jeopardized.
  • Interoperability: Due to dependencies, integrating SaaS with current applications and services may be challenging.
  • Less control: Users have a limited amount of control over downtime, functionality, speed & performance, and how their data is managed.
  • Limited customization: SaaS provides for just a limited amount of customization in terms of features and functionality.
  • Shadow IT: Employees often buy for new SaaS applications without consulting IT. Unmanaged SaaS applications may have security flaws.
  • Wasted resources: Due to the simplicity and scalability of SaaS, an organization’s SaaS stack may include many overlapping, underused, or useless applications. In the absence of automated SaaS management and optimization procedures in place, the value of SaaS applications within a company may decrease.

Examples of SaaS

Long before the mass migration to the cloud SaaS applications existed. Gmail and Outlook are just a couple of examples. Here are several other examples that you have probably heard of:

  • Cisco WebEx
  • DocuSign
  • Dropbox
  • Google Apps
  • HubSpot
  • MailChimp
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Salesforce
  • Slack
  • ZenDesk

PaaS or Platform-as-a-Service

Definition of PaaS

PaaS is an acronym for Platform-as-a-Service.  It is a platform, which is accessible via the internet. It offers developers with tools and a framework for custom build applications and software that cater to an organization’s specific requirements.

PaaS may be thought of as a scaled down or condensed form of IaaS. As with IaaS, clients have access to data centers and servers that the third-party supplier maintains and manages. The customers, however, primarily utilize PaaS to develop bespoke SaaS apps.

Delivery of PaaS

PaaS delivery is comparable to SaaS delivery. The main distinction is that consumers do not access an online software, but rather an online platform for developing software. Additionally, because the environment and the tools are pre-configured, software developers and engineers may focus on developing applications rather than on other components such as storage, infrastructure, and operating systems.

When should you use PaaS?

There are many instances in which a Platform-as-a-Service might be prudent. PaaS, for example, is an excellent method to simplify processes if you have many developers sweating over the same development project.

You may even incorporate more suppliers and maintain flexibility throughout the process. PaaS is also an excellent choice if your company needs bespoke apps that must be created and delivered quickly.

Advantages and Disadvantages of PaaS

Just like SaaS, PaaS also comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Let us quickly go through them.

The Pros

  • Freedom: PaaS saves developers time by allowing them to modify applications without needing to maintain the software.
  • Less coding: Your development teams will be required to write much less code than before.
  • Migration: It’s simple to move to a hybrid cloud architecture using PaaS.
  • Reduced Cost: PaaS is a straightforward, cost-effective method for rapidly developing and deploying new applications.
  • Scalability: PaaS service models are readily adaptable to the requirements of a developer.

The Cons

  • Data security: Utilizing servers managed by a third-party provider introduces a number of security concerns.
  • Integrations: You may run into difficulties integrating new apps since not all the components of your old IT infrastructure are cloud ready.
  • Limitations: Customized cloud operations often include automated processes that are incompatible with PaaS platforms, thus restricting your end user’s operational capacity.
  • Runtime issues: Certain PaaS solutions are not optimized for the framework, or the programming language used by your development teams.

Examples of PaaS

Here are some famous PaaS platforms (you may already know a few of them):

  • Apache Stratos
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • AWS Lambda
  • Force.com
  • Google App Engine
  • Heroku
  • Magento Commerce
  • OpenShift
  • SAP Cloud
  • Windows Azure

IaaS or Infrastructure-as-a-Service

Definition of IaaS

IaaS is an acronym for Infrastructure-as-a-Service. It enables businesses to acquire resources such as storage and networking on a demand basis without having to purchase expensive hardware. IaaS is extremely scalable and provides more flexibility for companies than the regular on-premises alternatives.

IaaS may be thought of as the fundamental layer of cloud computing. The virtualized components accessible via the internet are analogous to the hardware and servers that businesses would typically keep on-site.

Delivery of IaaS

With IaaS, businesses get access to a complete cloud computing infrastructure, which includes the servers, operating system, network, and data centers. Using virtualization technology, complete access is provided through an API or a dashboard. IaaS allows clients to retain full control over their computer infrastructure.

The IaaS vendor manages and maintains servers, storage, hard drives, and the necessary virtualization tools. However, the client must still handle runtime, programs, operating system, data, and middleware.

When should you use IaaS?

IaaS may help businesses of all sizes. Small businesses that have no intention of buying hardware or lack the personnel, time, budget, or capability to operate big data centers on-premises can significantly benefit from IaaS. Even large organisations that wish to maintain control over their applications and use just the needed resources also greatly benefit using IaaS. IaaS’s scalability is particularly advantageous for businesses experiencing fast expansion.

Advantages and Disadvantages of IaaS

Similar to SaaS and PaaS, even IaaS has its share of benefits and disadvantages. Here is what you must know:

The Pros

  • Automation: You can simply automate the process of deploying storage, networking, and server using IaaS.
  • Control: IaaS enables you to maintain total control over the infrastructure you are using.
  • Flexibility: IaaS offers more flexibility than any other cloud computing architecture.
  • Reduced Cost: IaaS enables you to buy resources on an “as-required” basis, ensuring that you only pay for the resources that you are utilizing.
  • Scalability: Due to the fact that you are just renting the IT components, you can scale up the resources or scale them down as and when required. 

The Cons

  • Internal training: Staff may need extra training to administer and monitor IaaS efficiently.
  • Legacy systems: Prior to moving to the cloud, old applications may need to be upgraded for the new infrastructure type.
  • Security: While you manage your applications, operating system, middleware, and data, you are therefore responsible for managing emerging security risks.

Examples of IaaS

To be honest, there are many IaaS providers. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • AWS or Amazon Web Services
  • Cisco Metacloud
  • Digital Ocean
  • GCE or Google Compute Engine
  • IBM Cloud
  • Linode
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Oracle Cloud
  • Rackspace
  • Vultr

Conclusion

The cloud computing model that you will select should depend on the needs of your company. It is important that you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of every model while at the same time, understand what you need the most – convenience, customization, or control.

Finally, selecting the right vendor is also important, because selecting an unreliable vendor can give you headaches, and you will end up losing time and money.

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