SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Discover the Right Cloud Model for Your Business

SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Which is best cloud service model? In this blog we'll break down each cloud service in detail to help you make the right business choice.

For every service you choose, if you plan to use it temporarily and stop once you have met your requirements, you can define it with a particular suffix – “as a service.” For example, Uber provides ‘cabs as a service’. Instead of buying your own car, you can pay and use another person’s car to go from one place to another.

In our IT world, services stand for the same approach. In a sense, you don’t need to install a full-blown word processor on your computer as there are browser-based text editors in plenty. In the same way, adopting cloud services can save your organization from developing an expensive data center, whereas you can enjoy virtual storage and text editor as services.

These services, among many others, are part of the all-inclusive model called XaaS – meaning Anything as a Service. It covers all the cloud services that you can purchase and use on the internet. And it has three essential submodels:

1) SaaS: Software as a Service

2) PaaS: Platform as a Service

3) IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

But a great number of business owners do not recognize the significant difference between these three offerings. Are you one of them? Whether you have a startup or own a large company, you must choose the best option for your organization to meet the requirements efficiently. Also, cloud computing is a big deal that you can’t take lightly.

In today’s blog, I’ll break down each cloud service in great detail and offer extensive analysis on the SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS debate to help you make the right decision for your business.

Buckle up!

First of All, What’s Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing delivers on-demand services and resources over the internet. In simple words, you can access apps, networking capabilities, development tools, virtual and physical servers, and store your organization’s data on remote data centers on a pay-as-you-go term.

There are giant cloud service providers in the market, such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce, etc. You can get their services either on a monthly subscription fee or by paying the bill as per the usage.

Needless to say, cloud computing for business is one of the greatest organizational revolutions driven by technology. The cloud market is growing exponentially, and here I present some big figures that will absolutely blow your mind!

  • By 2021, cloud data centers will run 95% of all workloads around the world
  • With a CAGR of 17.5%, the cloud market will hit $832.1 billion by 2025
  • The global cloud data storage will have over 200 zettabytes of data by 2025

And in case you didn’t have any idea, one zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes or a billion terabytes. The figures are certainly jaw-dropping!

Wondering why organizations are going crazy over cloud services? The reasons are manifold, and some of the most important ones are – digital transformation, cost savings, flexibility, reliability, quality control, improved collaboration, and much more.

Important Cloud Service Models in the Market

Let’s understand the cloud service models in layman terms. I’m taking a car as an example here, just the way I started:

  • On-Premises IT Infrastructure
  • This model allows you to buy your own car. So, when you have a car on your own, its servicing and maintenance is all up to you.

  • IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
  • With the IaaS cloud model, you can rent a car. So, you can drive it whenever you want without worrying about its maintenance.

    Do you know by the year 2025 cloud market revenue will cross $832.1 billion? Click To Tweet

  • PaaS: Platform as a Service
  • Let’s compare this particular model too with a cab service. When you book a cab, you don’t have to drive. While you relax in the back seat, the driver will take you to the destination.

  • SaaS: Software as a Service
  • The SaaS cloud model reminds me of a public bus. You just have to board the bus, and other passengers will share the ride with you.

    Did this analogy help you get the basics of different cloud models? It’s time to shed more light on them now.

A Brief Guide to SaaS: Software as a Service

Guide to SaaS

Definition of SaaS

Perhaps you’re most familiar with this acronym – adopting a SaaS application for business is the most recurrent cloud-based service. This cloud computing model uses applications from third-party vendors and delivers them over the internet.

So as a customer, you can perform the service without downloading any files on your computer. All you have to do is turn on the browser, log into the website of the cloud service provider, and reap all the benefits on offer.

What is SaaS Capable of?

SaaS products and services are exceptionally popular among a wide array of businesses. You can easily use and manage these cloud services. It comes with high scalability and flexibility, and you can deploy individual devices to your teams or organizations without the need to download and install them. Especially if you have distributed teams scattered around the world who work in remote proximity, SaaS will be tremendously helpful.

Delivery of SaaS

SaaS has a web-delivery model, meaning you can avail of the services or products from SaaS companies over the web. You can either use the development tools by downloading and installing on each device (Adobe Creative Cloud, for instance) or, more importantly, a web app (like Google Docs).

So, if you opt for a SaaS app, you don’t have to use a purchased license and call a specialist to install it on individual systems manually. Additionally, vendors will take care of all your technical problems, such as storage, servers, and data middleware. All this results in streamlined support and maintenance for your business.

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Characteristics of SaaS

Here are some notable attributes of SaaS that you should keep in mind while using:

  • Hosted by a remote server
  • Controlled and managed from a central location
  • No responsibility for software or hardware updates
  • Accessible over the web

Benefits of SaaS

Benefits of SaaS

SaaS: Software as a Service can bring a plethora of opportunities to your teams and business. Let’s have a look at the benefits of SaaS:

1. Ease of Use

The growing popularity of SaaS has been stemming from its amazing ease of use. As cloud vendors deliberately monitor and manage the programs and applications, there’s no scope for you to worry about running the services.

Moreover, internet connectivity is all you need to use and deploy the software on any device for your team, irrespective of the location and time.

2. High Scalability

Updating or modernizing your business applications with SaaS has become a breeze. This cloud computing model involves simple point-and-click options so that you can effortlessly customize your app, modify its core functionalities, and align it as per your business objectives.

3. Payment Flexibility

SaaS offers extensive payment flexibility to its users in most cases. So, you only pay for what you use with the option of subscription withdrawal at any time you want. This essentially makes budget planning a lot more convenient.

Apart from this aspect, there are some SaaS subsets with complicated payment structures. So, make sure you do your research before choosing one.

4. Cost and Time Saving

SaaS generally belongs to a shared cloud environment with several other tenants. So, if you can manage it effectively, you will find reduced license costs compared to legacy models. Additionally, vendors take care of all the technical issues, security, and maintenance services, so you don’t have to spend extra time and cash on these purposes.

Drawbacks of SaaS

Needless to say, the advantages of adopting the SaaS cloud model are compelling enough to catch your attention. Yet, it has some potential limitations that you must be aware of before opting for it.

1. Poor Data Security

SaaS helps you exchange tons of sensitive data to the off-premise servers, and hence, there might be considerable risks associated with security and compliance.

2. Interoperability

You might face challenges while integrating some SaaS apps with your existing services. Not all of them follow open integration standards.

3. Minimal Control

SaaS doesn’t allow you to have much control over its downtime, performance, functionalities, or how they govern its data.

When Should You Use SaaS?

I would say the SaaS computing mode is an ideal solution for startups or small businesses as they have limited resources to build and maintain their own enterprise software. From short-term projects to e-commerce platforms, SaaS stands out as the most convenient cloud computing option for you if you don’t prioritize highly customized apps.

It’s also a great solution if you don’t want to use apps very often, such as tax software.

Top 5 Examples of SaaS

Examples of SaaS

As the world is increasingly becoming a global village with the advancement of the internet, the popularity of SaaS application development is growing as well. For daily communication, professional, and leisure needs, internet users worldwide are extensively using SaaS tools.

Let me present some of the sought-after SaaS examples in today’s market:

  • DropBox
  • This is a file-sharing SaaS tool which allows numerous users to upload and download different files within your organization.

  • Salesforce
  • Salesforce offers an efficient CRM tool that can help you manage each one of your customers effectively.

  • HubSpot
  • HubSpot offers an all-inclusive SaaS platform helping in sales, marketing, CRM, and content management.

  • Zendesk
  • It’s a powerful sales CRM that you can customize as per your workflow. It offers a variety of tools that you can use to maintain and engage happy customers.

  • Google Workspace
  • Formerly known as G Suite, this SaaS service provides a set of collaboration tools along with a custom email for your organization.

A Comprehensive Guide to PaaS: Platform as a Service

Definition of PaaS

This acronym stands for Platform as a Service. Developers can access this platform over the internet, providing them with different tools and a progressive framework. So instead of delivering software through the internet, PaaS will deliver a platform to your developers so that they can build and create apps as per your business needs.

We can see PaaS as a cut-down version of IaaS. You can access data centers and servers which the third-party vendors manage and maintain. However, you can use PaaS primarily to create customized SaaS apps.

What is PaaS Capable of?

With PaaS: Platform as a Service product, you don’t have to deal with storage, management, or data serving, as your developers will be able to create custom apps online without those resources. As a scaled-down form of IaaS, this cloud platform will provide you with data centers and servers on which you can store your information (here, it’s an app). So here, the primary user is a developer who is able to build an app and deliver it to the customers with the help of the internet.

Delivery of PaaS

PaaS delivery happens in the same way as SaaS. The only point of difference is that, instead of accessing online software, you access an online platform that helps you build software. And since PaaS comes with a ready-to-use environment and tools, your developers can focus on the app development process without the need to worry about other aspects like the operating system, infrastructure, and storage.

Additionally, PaaS apps (or middleware) take on certain essential characteristics of the cloud and the latest enterprise software development trends. Hence, they’re highly scalable and available in the market.

Characteristics of PaaS

PaaS has the following attributes that make it a defined cloud solution. Check them out.

  • Offers a wide array of services related to the development, testing, and deployment of PaaS apps.
  • Provides virtualization technology so that you can easily scale up or down the resources as per your changing business needs.
  • Integrates database and web services
  • Multiple users can access the platform through the same development app.

Benefits of PaaS

Benefits of PaaS

No matter how skilled your developers are, whether they’re professional or citizen developers, PaaS can offer quite a few substantial benefits for your developers. Have a look at them.

1. Cost Saving

The key reason why PaaS has become a popular choice among developers is that developers can create and deploy apps without bearing the high expense of app development and computing resources. From databases to servers and operating systems, everything is stocked up in a layer that you don’t need to manage or maintain.

Besides, a lot of PaaS cloud service providers offer analytics that can be extremely helpful for you to make informed business decisions.

2. Frequent Platform Updates

With PaaS, you don’t have to track, maintain, update, or do any such important tasks as it offers flawless platform updates regularly. Re-integrating components with your PaaS provider is also off the chart so your developers can fully focus on developing apps and their goals.

3. Complete Control

Once you migrate to PaaS, you have full authority over the tools and apps offered by the platform. Determine the type and tech stack to build your app, choose the services according to your need, and pay only for what you use. Under or over-provisioning infrastructure is out of your list of concerns.

In addition, a PaaS makes it incredibly easy to migrate to other hybrid cloud models and makes the coding process a lot easier, following the code quality and coding standard. You can also customize your app without upkeeping the software.

Drawbacks of PaaS

Not to our surprise, PaaS comes with a few concerns that you should not overlook while choosing the best cloud computing model for your business.

1. Limited Control

With PaaS, you can control only what the platform offers to you. Meaning, if there’s a problem or outage with the OS or hardware, the software will be equally affected. Also, you have no control over the infrastructure of the app, as coding is the only task left to you.

2. Security Risks

In PaaS, the third-party cloud vendor will manage and store all the sensitive data of your organization. This poses significant security threats to the users of your app.

3. Restricted Operational Capacity

PaaS solutions do not always match well with the automated workflows of customized cloud services. Such a lack of compatibility may result in restricted operational capacities for your teams.

When Should You Use PaaS?

PaaS: Platform as a Service can be an ideal cloud solution for a handful of situations. For instance, if you have multiple developers in your team working on a common project, PaaS can prove to be a great way to collaborate and streamline the workflow.

This cloud platform also gives you the freedom to be flexible and partner with other vendors if necessary. Also, if you’re looking for software project success in a short time, PaaS is the best choice for you.

Top 5 Examples of PaaS

Examples of PaaS

Here are some popular examples of PaaS:

  • Heroku
  • It’s a self-contained PaaS tool that can help you develop high-end consumer-facing apps. Heroku apps are popular for their effective user experience.

  • Microsoft Azure
  • You can develop effective web apps with Microsoft Azure from the beginning to the end. It supports a variety of frameworks, tools, and languages.

  • Google App Engine
  • With a serverless architecture, Google App Engine is a highly scalable PaaS tool. Its cloud-based data centers help anyone build and host progressive web apps.

  • Apprenda
  • You can host a complete app portfolio with this PaaS product. It helps in developing and hosting all kinds of apps on the platform.

  • AWS Lambda
  • AWS Lambda has a serverless architecture as well, that lets you run numerous codes. This PaaS product can easily handle micro-service architecture.

    Create a secured AWS environment for smooth business operations

    A Comprehensive Guide to IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

    Definition of IaaS

    This cloud-based service eliminates the need to buy costly hardware and enables you to purchase and use resources like data storage, operating systems, networks, server management, etc., through the cloud. Compared to on-premise solutions, you can easily scale IaaS and bring more flexibility to your organization.

    The IaaS cloud model is the primary layer of cloud services. So instead of traditionally storing hardware and servers in your organization, you can access the equivalent virtual components over the internet.

    As an IaaS customer, you can manage your data infrastructure as you don’t need to control it on-site physically. You can use an Application Programming Interface or API to access and manage the resources provided by your IaaS vendor and store heavy volumes of data on their servers.

    What is IaaS Capable of?

    As your company heads towards growth, IaaS can help you manage and store the increasing data. You just have to pay for the server space and storage you need for your company without the struggle of hosting and managing those on-site. Moreover, IaaS products and services help you build the foundation of inventing brand-new technologies that you can access over the cloud.

    Delivery of IaaS

    IaaS will provide you with a complete cloud computing infrastructure. Its virtualization technology grants you access through the connection between a native dashboard and the API of your cloud service provider.

    Rest assured, your IaaS vendor will take care of the maintenance and management of virtualization tools, storage, hard drives, and servers. What is left on your court is to manage the data, operating system, apps, middleware, and runtime.

    Characteristics of IaaS

    These are the essential characteristic that represents IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

    • Variable cost based on the usage
    • Access to resources as services
    • Highly scalable services
    • Complete control over the infrastructure
    • Dynamic flexibility
    • One hardware with multiple end-users

    Benefits of IaaS

    Benefits of IaaS

    IaaS comes with a handful of advantages if you’re willing to migrate to the cloud. Let’s walk through the most compelling ones:

    1. High Scalability

    The primary selling point of IaaS is that it lets you rent a complete IT infrastructure with unparalleled scalability. If your requirement for resources extends beyond what you imagined initially, you always have the option to get additional capability from your IaaS vendor. You can enjoy the full utilization of the cloud as you have flexible and continuous access to resources, even when your demand drops or spikes.

    2. Extensive Service

    Sure, other cloud services like SaaS or PaaS are in high demand, but IaaS stands out for its extended service. Upon opting for IaaS, you will have a standard service level agreement with your IaaS provider, clearly stating the duration of the partnership and the offers.

    One crucial factor on which the agreement and its clauses largely depend is your price sensitivity. For lesser-used IaaS services, the pay-as-you-go policy is still prevalent.

    3. Cost-Effectiveness

    Infrastructure as a Service providers keep track of the allocated resources by using metering. So, your cloud vendor will charge you only what you have used. Therefore, IaaS gives you the opportunity to pay for the computing resources you’re actively consuming.

    4. Growth in Business

    This cloud computing model offers a wide array of physical tools that you can access and manage through the virtual infrastructure. As a result of using their resources in accordance with your needs, you can drive strategic development and business growth.

    Additionally, your developers also acquire a greater understanding and control of the infrastructure as IaaS effectively follows the core infrastructure standards as Code.

    Drawbacks of IaaS

    Now it’s time to go through some considerable concerns associated with this cloud computing model:

    1. Internal Training

    In order to efficiently control and manage the IaaS services, people in your organization must go through a training session. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to run new updates, backup, ad data security functionalities.

    2. Legacy Systems

    IaaS allows you to operate legacy apps in your organization, but the infrastructure may not support those apps. Hence, you must enhance the traditional apps before migrating to this cloud service.

    Modernize your legacy apps by migrating it to cloud platform

    3. Security Issues

    Although you have full control over the operating system, data, apps, and middleware, you are also solely in charge of mitigating any kind of security threats. The same goes for data. If any data gets lost, you are responsible for its recovery.

    When Should You Use IaaS?

    As with every cloud model, IaaS has its own certain situations where it comes with the most advantages.

    IaaS is the best choice for startups and small businesses as they usually have tight budgets and avoid spending resources on developing software and hardware. Because of its high scalability, IaaS is also suitable for enterprises with rapid growth as they can scale up or scale down services as per their evolving needs.

    And last but not least, large organizations also prefer IaaS services because it allows them to have complete control over the infrastructure and apps. They also purchase or pay for only what they need or consume.

    Top 5 Examples of IaaS

    Examples of IaaS

    IaaS is an immensely popular cloud solution in the market. Some of the renowned examples include:

    • Microsoft Azure
    • With a network of Microsoft data centers, this IaaS product will empower you to develop, test, and manage a series of apps.

    • Amazon Web Services
    • Amazon powers AWS. You can use this IaaS platform through a recurring subscription plan. It also enables you to deliver content and store data. As a matter of fact, you’re now reading this blog with the help of AWS itself!

    • Google Cloud
    • This cloud computing platform enables you to run SAP, Oracle, and Windows natively. Moreover, it offers a handful of AI solutions to enhance your organizational efficiency and manage the database of your business.

    • IBM Cloud
    • As it says, IBM Cloud helps you allocate your security resources, storage, computer, and network. To put it simply, you can use resources only when you’re in need, leading to enhanced efficiency.

    • Metacloud by Cisco
    • If you want OpenStack private cloud services, Metacloud, owned by Cisco, is a great choice for you. From streaming to storage, analysis, and archiving, you can effectively make large implementations with this cloud infrastructure.

    SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Which Cloud Computing Model Has the Highest Market Share?

    The cloud computing market has been growing at an exponential rate from the last few years as more and more companies have started to realize its potential to drive organization growth. Let me show you how the market share of public cloud computing has been crossing new marks during the last three years, along with its predicted future in 2022.

    SaaS: Software as a Service is currently at the top with a 39.4% market share. Then comes the IaaS cloud model with 20.9% share, followed by PaaS with 18.7%. IaaS, among these three, has the fastest growth rate.

    Following the recent business technology trends in 2021, I have observed a slight growth in the IaaS and PaaS market shares and the opposite in SaaS. This might be happening because companies are now preferring the customization and flexibility scope of IaaS services over the ready-to-use solutions of SaaS products. And I guess these trends are most likely to continue in the upcoming years as well. Despite everything, SaaS will very likely be the leading cloud service generating the most revenue.

    Public Cloud Computing Market Share

    SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Fundamental Differences Between the Three Cloud Computing Models

    FeatureSaaSPaaSIaaS
    Resources Email, virtual desktop, CRM, Productivity tools, cloud-based storageDevelopment tools, databases, web servers, execution runtimeNetwork components, data storage, servers, virtual machines, load balancers
    End-UserBusiness people, general customersOperational people, QA, developersIT administrators
    Control Application configurationApplication configuration, application serverOperating system, application configuration, application server, security network
    Examples Dropbox, Google Workspace, Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, Cisco WebExSAP Cloud, AWS Lambda, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Oracle Cloud Platform, HerokuAWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, DigitalOcean, Linode

    SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: What the End-User Manages?

    When it’s about choosing the best cloud model, it’s important to know who manages what. In other words, you must know what you will require to manage and what responsibilities lie with your cloud service provider.

    Resource SaaSPaaSIaaS
    Storage VendorVendorVendor
    E-applications VendorYouYou
    Operating System VendorVendorYou
    Data Centers VendorVendorVendor
    ServersVendorVendorVendor
    Management and Development ToolsVendorVendorYou
    Network ResourcesVendorVendorVendor

    Still confused which cloud model best suits your business?

    Finally, Which Cloud Service Should You Embrace?

    Let’s recap the whole discussion:

    If you’re planning to build a website for your company, you should go for IaaS as you need to host the website and the related apps. In case you want to develop a customized software as per your business needs, you should go for PaaS. You can concentrate on building the app instead of worrying about the hosting part. And once your software is ready for the end-users, it will essentially be a SaaS product.

    All three cloud models are intertwined cloud services that can streamline critical business operations and facilitate the growth of your business. No matter what model stands out to you, make sure it caters to your enterprise needs down the line.

    In the end, you must choose the most important criterion between these three Cs – convenience, customization, or control. And once you have determined what values the most to you and your organization, it’s time to find a vendor that aligns with your organizational culture and boosts your team’s productivity.

    And if you wish to learn more about our top-notch cloud application development services, we’re just one tap away. Let’s talk about a better way to run your business.

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Jaydeep Patadiya is a senior business development manager at Radixweb and always has the answer to- what's on the mind of the customers? In an industry that is fundamentally changing, he helps customers make the right decisions by connecting the right dots and adopt new technologies. Beyond work, he prepares for upcoming marathon races.