IaaS vs. SaaS vs. PaaS

Cloud computing is a service that provides internet-based resources for businesses. As everything in the modern world is transitioning from paper to technology, cloud computing is the most accessible option. The software can be accessed virtually anywhere and is typically managed by a vendor or third-party IT company. There are typically three models of cloud services to compare: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Infrastructure as a Service

What is IaaS?

Iaas is a type of cloud infrastructure service that is adaptable and has automated resources. It is entirely self-service, including monitoring, networking, and storage. Instead of buying the hardware outright, the organization can purchase the resources as needed. The cloud infrastructure is delivered through a dashboard (visual display of the organization’s data) or an application programming interface (API). Since IaaS provides the same functionality as a traditional data center but doesn’t manage all of it, the clients have complete control over the infrastructure.

IaaS differs from SaaS and PaaS because the clients are responsible for applications, runtime, middleware, and data. This requires an in-house or third-party IT specialist (such as EHPN) to manage the software. IaaS vendors manage servers, hard drives, virtualization, and storage.

Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), and more. 

Benefits of IaaS:

  • Pay only for what you need
  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Self-service can be a positive

Concerns and Limitations of Iaas:

  • System vulnerabilities are always possible, especially when the entire system is managed by the client. That can lead to security breaches.
  • Current systems within a company (legacy systems) can have problems while integrating with the new system, causing security issues.
  • Training may be required for the entire staff to effectively manage the system

Software as a Service

What is Saas?

Saas is a third-party cloud application service. The vendors manage the entire application, including technical issues, maintenance, and support. This service delivers applications to its users utilizing the internet, meaning the applications are run through a web browser. Because of the browser utilization, the applications don’t require installations or downloads and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

How is Saas used?

Saas is being utilized if it is hosted on a remote server, managed from a central location, accessible over the internet, and the users are typically not responsible for hardware or software updates. 

Examples of SaaS include Google Workspace, Dropbox, Salesforce, etc.

Benefits of SaaS:

  • Vendor management
  • Can be accessed anywhere
  • Typically lower cost

Concerns and limitations of SaaS:

  • Existing apps and services within the organization could be incompatible with certain SaaS apps if they are not designed for integration (and some vendors offer limited support with integration) 
  • Vendor lock-in could occur, where in-house engineering rework or significant cost is required to make the data portable to other services 
  • The transfer of sensitive data to public cloud-based SaaS services comes with possible compromised security and/or high cost for a high volume of data 
  • SaaS offers minimal customization and features since it is a standardized application
  • Customers depend on your vendor to maintain the service’s security and performance, which can affect their experience if there is unplanned maintenance, network issues, etc. 

Platform as a Service

What is Paas?

Paas is a third-party cloud platform service. The vendor provides a platform (termed middleware) for software creation and can be managed by the organization or a third-party provider. It is simply a framework for developers to customize to their needs, mainly used for applications.

The PaaS platform is delivered via the web and eliminates the organization’s duty to create operating systems and infrastructure. The vendor also manages software updates and storage.

This cloud service is buildable, allowing the software to expand as the business grows. It also provides a variety of services to assist during the creation and finalization of the app and integrates web services and databases.

Examples of PaaS include Windows Azure, Force.com, Google App Engine, OpenShift, and more.

Benefits of PaaS:

  • Buildable software
  • Can be managed in-house or by a third party
  • Mobility and availability

Concerns and Limitations of Iaas:

  • When using a platform, your data is stored on vendor-controlled cloud servers, which poses security risks
  • Integration into the new infrastructure can be a challenge because not everything is built for the cloud
  • Vendor lock-in is still an issue if the vendor hasn’t included convenient migration policies
  • Existing apps may need customization to function with the new PaaS, which may eliminate the need for a PaaS altogether
  • PaaS limits operational capabilities for end users in an effort to reduce the operational burden, but it may affect how the platform is managed and operated

Determining which service is right for your business can be a difficult process, but luckily there are professionals who can help! Discussing your options with a Trusted Advisor who analyzes your needs will save you time and the headache. An advisor will ensure that your business chooses a service that serves you best.

EHPN will help you pick your cloud services with professional consulting, all included as part of standard agreements. Reach out today to start elevating your business!