One model is not necessarily better than the other, but there are certain circumstances where each one will make more sense than the other.
Whether you’re a startup, a marketer, or a CEO evaluating cloud services, it’s highly likely that you’ve come across the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) models. As software vendors vie to solve their customer’s problems, and to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, terms like these continue to grow in popularity.
The only problem is, all these different acronyms flying around can confuse the best of us.
In this article, we’re going to explain the differences between IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS so that you can be better informed about which model works best for your business, and make the right decision when you’re on the hunt for software.
SaaS — or software as a service — is a way of purchasing and using an application, or set of applications. But instead of paying for a yearly license to download an application, a SaaS model involves the customer paying a (usually smaller) monthly fee to access and use the software in a hosted environment.
Because SaaS is a cloud-based application, the customer doesn’t have to worry about downloading anything, nor do they need to concern themselves with updates and security — because it’s all taken care of centrally, in the cloud, by the vendor. With a SaaS solution, the customer simply accesses the application via a web browser, inputs their login credentials, and uses the application.
Wondering how to identify a SaaS product? Here are some common SaaS traits and features to help you out:
There are thousands of SaaS applications on the market. Companies big and small continue to deploy the SaaS model because it’s centralized, easier to manage, and provides them with a lot of flexibility to provide future updates.
Some of the most popular SaaS applications that you’ve heard of include:
There are several pros and cons when it comes to adopting a SaaS solution:
If you want to use a ready-made platform (or suite of applications that make up a platform), and aren’t concerned about customizing the bones of it — then SaaS is the way to go.
For example, if you need a WCMS that’s ready to help you launch websites, apps and progressive web apps today, then Zesty.io is for you. If, on the other hand, you want more granular and intricate control over the code, and you want to painstakingly build things almost from scratch, then a PaaS solution like Drupal might be the way to go. Speaking of PaaS...
PaaS, or platform as a service, is a fair simpler model than a SaaS solution — which actually makes it a more technical platform to work with.
While a PaaS solution is a category of cloud computing services that gives the customer a hosting environment too (and handles things like virtualization, runtime and middleware), a PaaS solution doesn’t enable the customer with ready-made application. It just provides the building blocks for the customer to build out their own solutions. Hence, unlike a SaaS solution which requires no technical knowledge to use, a team of developers is required to make use of a PaaS.
The following traits are common throughout PaaS solutions:
While there are fewer PaaS options available, due to the complexity that goes into creating a PaaS, some of the most popular ones include:
Here are the benefits and disadvantages of using a PaaS solution:
Unlike with a SaaS solution, which gives the customer access to ready-to-use software, a PaaS usually requires some assembly, so to speak. That’s good news if you want to build a platform for your organization’s unique needs while relying on enterprise-grade servers and customer support, but it can be a serious undertaking.
The PaaS model is far cheaper than building your own servers, housing an entire development team in-house, and slowly building an app from scratch. With PaaS, you can build your application at your own pace and scale the platform as demand grows.
You may have also heard of IaaS, infrastructure as a service, the last category of the three cloud computing services. Iaas is a cloud service that provides computing, storage, and more over the Internet.
Many enterprise-level users find switching over to IaaS to be a cost-effective alternative to investing in data centers. With infrastructure as a service, the buyer is renting out a space at a physical location for their computer server and storage needs, and paying for a per-use or utility computing basis. The management aspect is left to the IaaS provider, and it falls on them to maintain, operate, and house the hardware.
One of the selling points of IaaS is that you only pay for what you use. Because the buyer is outsourcing resource needs, they can scale up and down fast according to need.
While there is some overlap between the three models, PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS are three very different solutions.
Think of IaaS as the foundation of cloud computing services. Just like with Saas and Paas, IaaS means that virtualization, servers, storage, and networking are managed by the vendor. However, with infrastructure as a service, the buyer manages applications, data, runtime, malware, and the operating system.
With a PaaS, the customer gets access to hosting, storage space, frameworks, servers, and operating system, and everything a team of developers requires to build applications. A PaaS solution suits an organization that wants to build their software, and have greater autonomy over the end product.
With SaaS, the vendor handles everything, granting the customer access to their software, so long as a subscription fee is paid. The individual application can be customized according to customer use, and the upkeep, security, and future development is in the hands of the vendor. Thus, a SaaS solution is ideal for business-focused brands that want results from a software built, maintained, and hosted by experts.
One model is not necessarily better than the other, but there are certain circumstances where each one will make more sense than the other. Now that you know the difference between IaaS, SaaS and PaaS, you’ll be able to determine which model best suits your business needs.