SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

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Though cloud computing is an exceptionally hot concept that has been embraced by benchmark organizations all the way down to small enterprises, it is still an expressively wide and misunderstood subject that covers a significant territory within the World Wide Web. As a result of this multiplicity and diversity, many enterprises and businesses find it intimidating or daunting to chart an objective and actionable path out of the maze that is the cloud. Therefore, as you contemplate on migrating your business operations to the cloud, it is important more than ever, to have a clear understanding of the technicalities, differences, benefits, and misgivings that come with every cloud service available on the market. Otherwise, you might end up making a tactical error that could not only result in losses but also instigate the demise of your business.

However, by moving your data and business operations to the cloud, you bypass traditional and time-consuming IT bureaucracies, to enjoy instant, flexible and scalable services.

What cloud services available for enterprises?

Well! Technically, there are 3 types of cloud services that your business, organization or company can leverage upon to improve operations. These are:

1. Software as a Service

2. Platform as a Service and

3. Infrastructure as a Service

Each one of these comes with different applications, variances, and benefits. For this reason, it is essential to comprehend their applications so that you can be in a position to make an informed decision when time to make a choice comes.

A sneak peek the differences between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

All of the three services stated above describe the applications and provisions the service provider offers in relation to how the user (your business) utilizes them. IaaS offers your organization a scalable and automated environment that is extremely flexible and stable. On the other hand, PaaS provides a platform for deploying and developing applications quickly, by automating infrastructure management and automating. This eliminates the necessity to install and run programs on individual computers. Last but not the least, SaaS makes it possible for your business to access applications via the internet, as opposed to manually installing on individual devices.

Common Real Life Examples of SaaS, PaaS, & IaaS

Platform TypeCommon Examples
SaaSGoogle Apps, Dropbox, Salesforce, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Concur etc.
PaaSAWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku, Google, Apache Stratos, App Engine, Force.com, OpenShift etc.
IaaSAmazon Web Services (AWS), DigitalOcean , Linode, Rackspace, Cisco Metapod, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Microsoft Azure etc.

An in-depth look into these cloud computing services

As you might have already noticed, the last three letters of each of these services end with an aaS acronym. This stands for “as-a-service” implying that whatever service the first letter stands for is quickly accessible and available to multiple devices via the cloud network. The services scale automatically as demand rises, and subscribers are only billed on the resources they use, instead of a flat monthly payment or a one-time purchase of the entire infrastructure.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service

At the very end of the managed cloud computing spectrum, IaaS provides and manages virtualized and preconfigured infrastructure and hardware which enables users to leverage exceptional computing power and virtual machines without having to invest in labor-intensive management and expensive hardware. These cloud infrastructure services are automated and highly scalable when compared to traditional ones. This service is good for monitoring things such as networking, storage, and online computer resources. Through it, businesses have the freedom to buy resources on demand and as needed and instead of buying the entire hardware.

IaaS Delivery

As aforementioned, Infrastructure as a Service provides cloud computing infrastructure to enterprises, companies, and organizations looking to transfer their operations to the cloud. The areas served by this service include storage, operating systems, network, and servers. The provision of such services is usually through virtualization technology. Through virtualization, users can access the services via APIs or Dashboards, giving them complete autonomy over the infrastructure. This implies that IaaS clients can access their storage or servers directly, despite the fact that it is outsourced via a virtual data center on the cloud.

Basically, service providers provided these services just like traditional data centers would, only that there is no physical management or maintenance of the infrastructure.

How does IaaS differ from the rest?

As opposed to PaaS, or SaaS, users have full autonomy on management aspects of their infrastructure. These include middleware, data, OSes, and runtime. However, service providers are in charge of networking, hard drives, managing the servers, storage, and network virtualization. You will also find service providers that offer services outside the virtualization layer. These services include databases and message queuing.

The benefits of choosing IaaS

The advantages of adopting IaaS in your business include but are not limited to:

  • The ability to automate deployment of storage, servers, networking and processing power.
  • A highly flexible cloud computing model
  • Hardware and infrastructure is purchased when there is a need to
  • Users get full control and autonomy of the hardware and infrastructure.
  • Resources are purchased when on demand
  • High levels of scalability

What to look for when shopping for IaaS services

When time to go shopping comes, take the following factors into consideration.

  • The number of resources available as a service. This will highly depend on what you want to accomplish with the service. The more services offered, the better since your business is subject to growth.
  • The cost. This will depend on your levels of consumption. The more services you are subscribed to, the more you have to pay. The good thing is that you have the freedom to pay for only what you need.
  • The scalability of services. Needless to say, the more scalable a service is, the better it is going to serve its purpose. For this reason, be very keen on how much the service you have in mind is scalable.
  • The number of users that can access the service at a go. This depends on the size of your organization and the number of people that need to use the service. Before buying, ensure that your choice will be adequately accessible to all intended users.
  • The level of control of the infrastructure. Basically, the more control you have, the easier you can manipulate the service to your advantage.
  • Flexibility and dynamism. Flexibility will ensure that the service is elastic enough to accommodate your business needs as it grows. This way, you don’t have to subscribe to a different service when your enterprise ventures into another sector.

When to Use IaaS

Just like PaaS and SaaS, there are those instances when it is best to use Infrastructure as a Service. For instance, if you are a small company or a startup, it will come in handy since you don’t have to invest a lot of money on software and hardware. It is also an excellent choice for big organizations and companies who are looking to have complete control of their hardware and resources but only want to pay for what they will be using. For rapidly growing companies, IaaS is also an ideal choice since it is very flexible. As such companies grow and expand, they have to be worried about committing to a specific software which might not have the capacity to keep up with the development. With IaaS, they can seamlessly scale down or up as operations dictate.

Examples of IaaS

One of the most prolific examples of IaaS is Amazon Web Services. It offers its services to users via EC2 and Elastic Compute Cloud. Other IaaS packages deal with networking, storage, virtualization components, and servers. In most of these, users have the freedom to control their databases, Operating Systems, applications, and Security components.

Platform-as-a-Service

PaaS is a recent but rapidly growing service solution that is being used by software developers who would rather spend most of their time coding, testing their code and deploying their software instead of dealing with hardware related tasks like updating operating systems and managing security patches. It basically provides a platform for developers on which they can build and test custom applications. Storage, networking, and servers are managed by the service provider or a third-party while the management of the applications rests with the developers.

PaaS Delivery

The application model of Platform as a Service is more or less similar to that of software as a service. The only difference is, instead of offering software via the internet, a framework for software development is provided. The platform is availed via the internet, giving developers more time to concentrate with software building instead of worrying about software updates, operating systems, infrastructure, and storage.

Through PaaS, enterprises and businesses can create custom applications by leveraging special software components available on the platform. These applications, otherwise known as middleware are easily available and highly scalable because they take on certain features of the cloud.

Benefits of using PaaS

Regardless of the size of your company or business, your business will surely benefit from embracing PaaS into its operations. Some of the benefits you can be guaranteed to get include but not limited to:

  • It simplifies the process of developing and deploying custom and cost-effective applications.
  • Simple to use and easily available.
  • Developers can build customized applications without having to worry about software maintenance.
  • The platforms significantly reduce the amount of time required to code.
  • It facilitates an effortless and easy migration to the hybrid model.
  • Through it, any business policy can be automated.

What to take into consideration when shopping for PaaS

There are several features that determine whether a PaaS is good enough or not. When you go out shopping, that’s what you need to take into consideration. The factors include but not limited to:

  • Virtualization. If a PaaS service is built on virtualization technology, it implies that it can be effortlessly scaled down or up depending on your business’s needs. Ensure that the service you have in mind fulfills this. Otherwise, you could end up with one that won’t accommodate the dynamic needs of your business or company.
  • The number of services provided. Depending on the needs of your business, go for a service that will provide you with a reliable platform to develop, test and deploy applications.
  • The number of users that can access the same development application. Once again, this will be dictated by your company’s needs. If you want more developers working on your applications, go for a service that allows multiple users on the same application.
  • Integrated databases and web services. A cloud service with these functionalities makes it possible for developers to concentrate on building applications.

When to Use PaaS

Like SaaS and IaaS, there are those situations where utilizing PaaS will yield the most favorable results. For instance, if several software developers are working on a similar project, or if that people must be included in the project, PaaS can provide flexibility and great levels of speed to smoothen the entire operation. It will also come in handy if you are looking to build customized applications for your business. Apart from simplifying the process of deploying and developing applications, it will also significantly help your business cut down on costs that could have been otherwise used in buying physical infrastructure.

Examples of PaaS

Currently, Microsoft Azure is one of the most popular and best known PaaS services. Other services under this category include Windows Azure, Google App Engine, OpenShift, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Apache Stratos, Heroku, and Force.com. Apart from managed infrastructure, these services also come with tools and APIs which give developers the freedom to add extra features such as monitoring, version control systems and traffic splitting.

Software-as-a-Service

Also known as cloud application services, Software as a Service is perhaps the most common and used cloud service for businesses in the current market. Under SaaS, applications are managed by third-party vendors and delivered to users through the internet. For the majority of these applications, they are operated via a web browser, eliminating the need to download and install them on standalone devices. Subscribers of these services can enjoy a smooth use without having to worry about backups, updates, support, maintenance, and support.

As the most common category of cloud computing, most of us have interacted with SaaS through applications such as Dropbox,Gmail, Netflix, and Salesforce. Just to mention but a few.

SaaS Delivery

Since services are offered through the internet, users don’t have to download and install applications on their computers. Under this service, service providers deal with all technical challenges such as middleware, data, storage, and servers. Businesses have the freedom to simplify their support and maintenance.

SaaS Advantages

SaaS provides numerous advantages to employees and companies by greatly reducing the time and money spent on tedious tasks such as installing, managing, and upgrading software. This frees up a lot of time for technical staff to spend on more pressing matters and issues within the organization.

What to look for in a SaaS service

If you take these factors into consideration, you will be in a better position to select a SaaS product that best matches the needs of your business.

  • Central management. Services that are managed from a central location are faster and more secure.
  • Accessibility via the internet. If the service is not accessible over the internet, it doesn’t even qualify to be categorized under Software as a Service.
  • Hosted from remote servers.
  • Service providers should be responsible for software and hardware updates. This gives you ample time to concentrate on what you have subscribed for.

When to Use SaaS

Being the most popular and commonly used cloud computing service, SaaS comes with several applications. Virtually, every business requires such a service to thrive. Some of its applications include:

  • If you are a small company or a startup that needs to launch e-commerce as fast as possible without having to worry about software and server issues.
  • When working on short-term projects which demand high levels of collaboration.
  • If your businesses, company or organization use applications that are not always on demand. For instance, tax software.
  • If your business uses applications that demand both mobile and web access.

Examples of SaaS

As the most common category of cloud computing, most of us have interacted with SaaS through applications such as Concur, Dropbox, GoToMeeting, Gmail, Netflix, Cisco WebEx, Google Apps, and Salesforce. Just to mention but a few.

Conclusion

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

All in all, each of these cloud services come with different functionalities and features. For this reason, it is very important for your business, organization or company to comprehensively understand what each brings on the table. Nonetheless, whether you are on the look for a platform that will allow you to create custom applications, a cloud-based service to store company data or craving for total autonomy on all of your development infrastructures without having to manually maintain it, you can rest assured that there is a cloud service ready to solve all of your problems. And no matter where you levitate to, you can be guaranteed that moving your business operation to the cloud is the future of doing business. In other terms, you are moving your business in the right direction.

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