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IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS

Published on 03 May 13
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Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) are all growing areas within the cloud computing market.


As with any relatively new technology there may be some areas of confusion, particularly when each is described by a relatively similar acronym. To remove any obfuscation, here is a quick overview of the areas in which IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are similar and where the main differences lie.
Understanding IaaS

When a business invests in IaaS, it is essentially handing over the running of the IT hardware and network infrastructure to a third-party provider rather than having to keep on top of these concerns internally.

This is beneficial if you want to avoid the costs associated with installation, maintenance and upgrades for servers. An IaaS package may even come with inclusive access to basic software, such as a virtual operating system, which gives you the ability to then set up whichever apps you may wish to harness.

However, the significant point here is that your business may well be expected to provide the technical support and knowledge required to make the most out of IaaS, because as the name suggests, this type of service generally just gives you the underlying IT infrastructure rather than completely kitting you out with a pre-formed package in which everything is included.

For many companies this is an ideal solution, giving them the freedom to manage, update and optimise a cloud platform as they see fit. For others, it may be a limiting factor since it requires that you have the right skills available in house.
Benefits of PaaS

PaaS takes the basic elements of IaaS but then adds an extra lay of service on top, which means that everything will be set up for your business without the need for direct involvement.

A PaaS provider should be able to take care of testing and deploying key apps in the cloud environment so that your company can simply start using the service and reap the benefits immediately, rather than having to take charge of this process in-house.

With PaaS you will also be able to sidestep the obstacles associated with the ongoing upkeep of a cloud platform, such as optimising the performance of apps and addressing any errors or issues that may arise.

Such issues are not only time consuming, they are also expensive and require that you retain technical staff capable of taking on these tasks. But if you pick a fully fledged PaaS package you will be under less strain. That is not to say that PaaS is intrinsically superior to IaaS, since the reality is that businesses need to base their decision to avail of the service on the individual circumstances in which they find themselves.
SaaS as Pure Consumption

The reason that SaaS is able to generate so much revenue is because many businesses may be using this type of service without actually realising it. With SaaS the end user is able to take a completely hands-off approach to every technical aspect of operating software.

For this type of solution a cloud provider owns and maintains the server hardware, network infrastructure, data centre premises and software licences. The end user simply consumes the result of this complicated set-up.

SaaS can be accessed from a variety of devices, often via a web browser, which means that as well as being available from desktop and laptop PCs, you will find SaaS on smartphones and tablets. For many companies this kind of arrangement is incredibly convenient because it means that all the complications and costs associated with running software solutions in house are eliminated.

In addition, the web-oriented nature of most SaaS platforms helps to dampen issues of compatibility, which can often arise when attempting to run software from individual machines.
Choosing Between the Three

The main advantage of adopting either SaaS or IaaS is that both solutions are incredibly scalable thanks to the nature of cloud computing.

With SaaS you should be able to provide access to software services for as many users as may be required. This means that firms should no longer encounter bottlenecks caused by their not having adequate workstations or software licences available.

When it comes to IaaS, because you are effectively renting a virtual server, you will be able to increase storage capacity and processing power as and when required, because a provider can simply make more capacity available to you.

Then if you only needed this extra boost over a limited period, your IaaS solution can return to its standard set-up. All the while, you would not have been paying over the odds.

Small companies with minimal experience in managing complex IT systems, even if all of the costs and concerns of hardware and maintenance are outsourced, might find that PaaS is the more affordable and practical route to take over IaaS.

On the other hand, companies with greater resources at their disposal that are still keen to benefit from the cloud could find that IaaS provides a complete solution, allowing them to take advantage of infrastructural elements that they could not support in house while still remaining in total control of the platform's applications.

It is perhaps unhelpful to construe the differences between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS as part of a battle, since they are complementary and closely related services that can enhance your company's ability to operate effectively.

Because of the flexibility of all three of the solutions, any good cloud computing provider should be able to tailor a package that incorporates the elements that your business needs, regardless of the specific platform they belong to.

This article is supplied by Jamie Garner, an employee of Daisy Group, a leading independent business telecoms and cloud computing provider.





Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) are all growing areas within the cloud computing market.

As with any relatively new technology there may be some areas of confusion, particularly when each is described by a relatively similar acronym. To remove any obfuscation, here is a quick overview of the areas in which IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are similar and where the main differences lie.

Understanding IaaS

When a business invests in IaaS, it is essentially handing over the running of the IT hardware and network infrastructure to a third-party provider rather than having to keep on top of these concerns internally.

This is beneficial if you want to avoid the costs associated with installation, maintenance and upgrades for servers. An IaaS package may even come with inclusive access to basic software, such as a virtual operating system, which gives you the ability to then set up whichever apps you may wish to harness.

However, the significant point here is that your business may well be expected to provide the technical support and knowledge required to make the most out of IaaS, because as the name suggests, this type of service generally just gives you the underlying IT infrastructure rather than completely kitting you out with a pre-formed package in which everything is included.

For many companies this is an ideal solution, giving them the freedom to manage, update and optimise a cloud platform as they see fit. For others, it may be a limiting factor since it requires that you have the right skills available in house.

Benefits of PaaS

PaaS takes the basic elements of IaaS but then adds an extra lay of service on top, which means that everything will be set up for your business without the need for direct involvement.

A PaaS provider should be able to take care of testing and deploying key apps in the cloud environment so that your company can simply start using the service and reap the benefits immediately, rather than having to take charge of this process in-house.

With PaaS you will also be able to sidestep the obstacles associated with the ongoing upkeep of a cloud platform, such as optimising the performance of apps and addressing any errors or issues that may arise.

Such issues are not only time consuming, they are also expensive and require that you retain technical staff capable of taking on these tasks. But if you pick a fully fledged PaaS package you will be under less strain. That is not to say that PaaS is intrinsically superior to IaaS, since the reality is that businesses need to base their decision to avail of the service on the individual circumstances in which they find themselves.

SaaS as Pure Consumption

The reason that SaaS is able to generate so much revenue is because many businesses may be using this type of service without actually realising it. With SaaS the end user is able to take a completely hands-off approach to every technical aspect of operating software.

For this type of solution a cloud provider owns and maintains the server hardware, network infrastructure, data centre premises and software licences. The end user simply consumes the result of this complicated set-up.

SaaS can be accessed from a variety of devices, often via a web browser, which means that as well as being available from desktop and laptop PCs, you will find SaaS on smartphones and tablets. For many companies this kind of arrangement is incredibly convenient because it means that all the complications and costs associated with running software solutions in house are eliminated.

In addition, the web-oriented nature of most SaaS platforms helps to dampen issues of compatibility, which can often arise when attempting to run software from individual machines.

Choosing Between the Three

The main advantage of adopting either SaaS or IaaS is that both solutions are incredibly scalable thanks to the nature of cloud computing.

With SaaS you should be able to provide access to software services for as many users as may be required. This means that firms should no longer encounter bottlenecks caused by their not having adequate workstations or software licences available.

When it comes to IaaS, because you are effectively renting a virtual server, you will be able to increase storage capacity and processing power as and when required, because a provider can simply make more capacity available to you.

Then if you only needed this extra boost over a limited period, your IaaS solution can return to its standard set-up. All the while, you would not have been paying over the odds.

Small companies with minimal experience in managing complex IT systems, even if all of the costs and concerns of hardware and maintenance are outsourced, might find that PaaS is the more affordable and practical route to take over IaaS.

On the other hand, companies with greater resources at their disposal that are still keen to benefit from the cloud could find that IaaS provides a complete solution, allowing them to take advantage of infrastructural elements that they could not support in house while still remaining in total control of the platform's applications.

It is perhaps unhelpful to construe the differences between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS as part of a battle, since they are complementary and closely related services that can enhance your company's ability to operate effectively.

Because of the flexibility of all three of the solutions, any good cloud computing provider should be able to tailor a package that incorporates the elements that your business needs, regardless of the specific platform they belong to.

This article is supplied by Jamie Garner, an employee of Daisy Group, a leading independent business telecoms and cloud computing provider.

This blog is listed under Cloud Computing and Development & Implementations Community

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