Today, thousands of small to large organizations from different sectors are increasingly relying on cloud storage. There is no doubt that cloud computing is flourishing across the globe. In the current business environment, it is hard to find an organization that does not depend on cloud services.
Nearly 80% of all organizations are projected to make a shift to the cloud by 2025 . This figure indicates that a lot of companies are either considering switching to the cloud or have already made the switch. The hot debate that is currently brewing up in the cloud computing world is SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS, and which one is better.
As a company, it is vital to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different cloud services. In addition, you should also be aware of the differences between various cloud services.
Although “as-as-service” is getting more common, there are three major cloud models that are creating quite a buzz. They are:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
In this blog, we will explore the concept and concept of each of these cloud services. Furthermore, we will understand the key differences between them so that you can choose the best solution for your company.
SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS: Key Differences
The key differences in these services is the major decisions related to:
1) How much you can and want to manage yourself?
2) How much do you want your service provider to manage for you?
Below, you can compare and see for yourself who manages what in different service types.
Examples of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS
SaaS: Dropbox, Salesforce, Cisco, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Google Workspace
PaaS: Windows Azure, Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Apache Stratos, OpenShift, Google App Engine
IaaS: Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Cisco Metapod, Rackspace, Linode, DigitalOcean
Software-as-a-Service is also known as cloud application services. Out of these three options, SaaS is the most popular and deployed alternative in the cloud market.
SaaS uses the internet to deliver applications that are primarily managed by third-party vendors. In addition, a majority of SaaS applications can run directly via a web browser. This means that you do not need to download or install any applications on the client-side to run SaaS-based applications.
One of the advantages of having a web-based delivery model is that you do not have to depend on IT to install and download applications on every system. In the SaaS model, the vendor is responsible to address various technical issues.
There are multiple advantages of deploying SaaS to both companies as well as employees.
SaaS minimizes the time and resources invested by companies on tasks such as installing, configuring, maintaining, and upgrading software.
Moreover, various SaaS vendors offer a fixed subscription model. This gives companies enough flexibility and time to plan and budget accordingly.
There are multiple ways to identify when a SaaS model is deployed. These include:
- SaaS-based applications are accessible over the internet
- A cloud service is hosted on a remote server
- The end-user is not responsible for software and hardware upgrades
When Should you Use SaaS?
As mentioned above, SaaS offers tons of benefits and advantages. A SaaS model may prove beneficial for:
- Small companies and startups who want to scale quickly. In most cases, small companies are unwilling to allocate resources to address software and server issues.
- Short-term projects that need swift and cost-effective collaboration
- Applications that are not used very often
- Applications that require mobile and web access
Disadvantages of SaaS
Almost all organizations require applications that can be integrated with on-premise services, data, and applications. During such circumstances, your SaaS provider may not be able to offer the type of support you are looking for, leading to additional costs for designing and managing integrations.
Most SaaS vendors make it very easy to join a service. However, on the flip side, getting out of it can pose a major barrier.
Large volumes of data are exchanged between backend data centers of SaaS applications to perform the necessary software functionality. There is an element of risk involved while transferring vulnerable information to a public-cloud-based SaaS service.
SaaS provides minimum customization options. Finding a one-size-fits-all solution is next to impossible. This is why some users may be restricted to certain functionalities and integrations provided by the vendor.
Here, on-premise solutions have an edge over SaaS applications as they come with different software development kits (SDKs).
With SaaS, you hand over complete control of all solutions to a third-party service provider. This means that users are required to work on their governance and data security models to sync with the functionality and features of a SaaS service.
The majority of SaaS applications are available in a standard form. Hence, the choice of features is limited and a compromising tradeoff against cost, performance, security, and more.
Cloud platform services are also referred to as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Such services predominantly offer cloud components to particular software solutions while they are used for applications.
What makes PaaS a hot commodity is that it creates a framework for developers which they can use to build customized applications.
Besides, networking, storage, and server-related services can be managed via third-party providers. However, the developers can maintain the management aspects of applications.
The delivery model of PaaS is very identical to that of SaaS. The only notable difference is that instead of delivering the solution via the internet, PaaS offers a platform for software development.
This platform is provided through the web and gives developers complete freedom to solely focus on software development. Developers do not have to worry about software updates, infrastructure, operating systems, and storage.
PaaS also enables companies to develop applications that are built into the PaaS by using advanced software components. Such applications are known as middleware.
Regardless of the size of your company, PaaS offers multiple advantages such as:
- PaaS facilitates cost-effective and efficient application development and deployment
- It is scalable
- Developers can seamlessly customize applications without worrying about software maintenance
- Business policies can be automated
- PaaS considerably reduces the degree of coding required to build applications
- It can be easily migrated into the hybrid model
We have made a list of various PaaS characteristics that classifies it under the cloud service umbrella.
- PaaS primarily develops on virtualization technology. This means that resources can be scaled in accordance with your business needs.
- PaaS offers a gamut of services that significantly help with software development, testing, and application deployment.
- It is very accessible to different users through the same development application
When Should You Use PaaS
In many situations, deploying PaaS is highly recommended and beneficial. For instance, PaaS organizes workflow when more than one developer is involved in a development project.
If you are interested in the creation of custom applications, PaaS should be your ideal choice.
Since not every software component is developed on the cloud, integration with the existing infrastructure and services may not be straightforward.
This is an area where PaaS fails to make the cut. There is a high chance that your technical and business requirements are likely to change with time.
If the PaaS provider does not offer a robust migration ecosystem, shifting to an alternative vendor can significantly affect your business operations.
Although end-users can run their applications by deploying PaaS solutions, the data stored in third-party cloud servers could present security risks.
In addition, you may not have enough flexibility with your security options if you choose PaaS.
Apart from limitations linked with certain applications and services, PaaS solutions are not optimized for frameworks and languages that you prefer. Besides, customers are also likely to face a tough time creating custom dependencies with the platform.
Essentially, cloud infrastructure services are also known as infrastructure-as-a-service. Such services encompass automated and scalable compute resources.
IaaS is entirely self-service for accessing and observing storage, networking, and other services. The nature of this cloud service enables businesses to buy resources on-demand whenever the need arises.
Virtualization technologies have gained considerable attention in recent years. Such technologies are used to deliver cloud computing infrastructure which includes operating systems, storage, networks, and servers.
Typically, cloud servers are provided to companies via an API or a dashboard. This gives clients full control over the infrastructure.
IaaS offers the same capabilities and technologies as a conventional data center. What’s the catch? You do not have to manage or worry about the maintenance.
If you want to know how IaaS is different from PaaS, you can read more about it here.
IaaS offers numerous advantages such as:
- IaaS is easily miles ahead of other cloud computing models in terms of flexibility
- Automating deployment of networking, servers, processing power, and store is extremely easy
- Companies can make hardware purchases solely based on their needs
Here are a few characteristics that define IaaS:
- Scalability of services
- Organizations have complete control over the infrastructure
- Cost depends on consumption
- Resources are primarily available as a service
When Should You Use IaaS
Just like SaaS and PaaS, there are some particular situations where IaaS thrives more than the rest.
- Smaller companies or startups could opt for IaaS to minimize spending on creating and purchasing hardware and software
- IaaS is a perfect match for companies that are expanding faster than expected. Since IaaS offers great scalability and flexibility, companies can opt for services as their needs evolve.
Almost all the major limitations linked with IaaS and PaaS also apply to IaaS. Some prominent disadvantages are given below.
Although the end-user has complete control over data, applications, OS platform, and middleware, the risk of security threats still exists. Virtual machines or the host could potentially be the source of a security threat.
Internal training and resources
When you opt for the IaaS model, in most cases, you will require additional training and resources to learn how to manage infrastructure. If there aren’t adequate resources, infrastructure management can be very challenging.
Running legacy systems
Although users can run their legacy applications in the cloud, the infrastructure may not be built to provide specific controls that secure them.
This is why legacy applications may require minor tweaks before they are migrated to the cloud.
SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS – Bottom Line
Each of these cloud models provides different functionalities and unique features. Hence, it is important to understand the differences between them.
Thanks to advancements in technology, today, there are all sorts of cloud services available for your business. If you are looking for a cloud solution for storage, there are cloud services for that. Whether you are looking for a platform that lets you develop custom applications, there is a cloud service for that as well.
At the end of the day, the decision is entirely yours as to which cloud service you want to choose for your business.
The growing popularity of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS has significantly reduced the need for on-premise hosting. Today, more and more companies are moving to the cloud due to the convenience it offers.
Looking at the current cloud computing trends, we can safely say that we are well and truly entering a cloud-powered future.
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 Galov. N (2021) “The Latest Cloud Computing Trends – 31+ Telling Facts” Hosting Tribunal [online] Available from: https://hostingtribunal.com/blog/cloud-computing-trends/#gref [accessed May 2021]