It’s the on-demand era of cloud computing, which is getting more complex and sophisticated every year. At the same time, the reduction in on-site data center usage is accelerating. Companies that want to shift their server operations to the cloud, however, are often met with a plethora of options to the extent that makes it difficult to choose the right one.
When it comes to the types of on-demand cloud computing, the most common high-level breakdown is to define infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).
Let’s explore how these cloud computing models are different, whether they are mutually exclusive and which ones you might need.
Computing Power: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Companies that just want access to raw computing resources would be interested in the most high-level and self-managed cloud computing option — infrastructure as a service.
IaaS is a cloud infrastructure service, which provides access to servers and storage on demand. The main benefit of IaaS is only using cloud computing resources when needed, with the ability to scale quickly, and without the need to buy and manage any hardware yourself.
Start-ups (or small companies) with unpredictable growth patterns often rely on IaaS to avoid buying and maintaining expensive server hardware. Large companies often choose IaaS to have complete control over their data, software and operating systems to produce custom solutions.
As an example, our M5 Cloud is a highly available infrastructure as a service platform. With both API and web interface access the M5 Cloud is a user-friendly and customizable solution for businesses of all sizes.
Software Development: Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The next type of cloud computing services is PaaS. Unlike IaaS, in PaaS, all the basic infrastructure, from servers to networking to storage, is managed by a centralized provider. Customers, however, retain full control over building their applications in the cloud.
You can think of PaaS as a platform for software creation. Most SaaS products, starting out, don’t require custom infrastructure. Moreover, most small companies don’t have the resources to effectively manage servers, networking, software updates, operating systems, etc. PaaS lets developers focus on creating their own products instead.
At the same time, developers still get the benefits of cloud infrastructure, such as scalability and high availability.
User Centricity: Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS, also called cloud applications, is the most popular type of cloud services. Unlike IaaS or PaaS, which cover hundreds of use cases, SaaS typically provides a very specific solution (e.g. customer service software, CRM or instant messaging). Typically, SaaS comes in the form of a ready-to-use application hosted in the cloud for which the user pays a monthly or yearly fee.
SaaS is completely managed by the vendor, usually has a friendly user interface accessible from any web browser and limits user configuration possibilities to user experience and user interface changes.
The benefits of SaaS are multifold. There’s no need to manage any server infrastructure or build applications. Since the most popular SaaS pricing structure is a monthly payment, users don’t need to put the money upfront to buy applications outright. The cost of entry and risk are minimal while scalability remains high.
How do IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS affect your business?
As you can see, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS differ between each other in the degree of control the user gets, which inversely correlates with the cost and difficulty of maintenance.
IaaS lets you completely manage the server infrastructure of your choice, but requires you to have DevOps or experienced engineers on staff. You can build custom applications easily on PaaS, but you need software developers to do it. SaaS solves more specific problems and can be used by anyone.
But do these services have to be mutually exclusive? Not at all. An average company today uses dozens of third-party SaaS solutions because developing your own software for everything you need is so costly and impractical. The flexibility of modern PaaS solutions means that fewer and fewer developers choose IaaS where PaaS would save lots of time and maintenance costs. Finally, IaaS is often required when you need to outsource variable quantities of raw computing resources without bringing them in house. Most large companies use all three.
The key to benefiting from IaaS, PaaS and SaaS is knowing when to choose which one and how to combine them together. That’s why getting guidance from your hosting company is so important. Our team at M5 Hosting is always ready to help you, just a call away. Let us know what your needs are and we’ll make sure you get the most optimal hosting solution.