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IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: General Comparison

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Featured image for IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: General Comparison

If you plan to move (or create) a business using the cloud, then you already know these three abbreviations:

  1. IaaS.
  2. PaaS.
  3. SaaS.
These are the three main types of cloud computing. Many of you may have heard of them before, as everyone went through a surge in popularity.

Cloud computing is now a hot topic for both small businesses and global enterprises. Of particular interest in this concept are companies based on "online territory".

If you are considering switching to the cloud, it’s more important than ever to understand the differences, advantages and disadvantages of each concept.

Key value

Before moving on to deep analysis and examples, you need to understand how these three concepts are deciphered. Indeed, in many ways the name speaks for itself.
  1. IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service.
  2. PaaS – Platform as a Service.
  3. SaaS – Software as a Service.
We often use comparisons to explain new concepts. The cloudy environment can be compared to transport. So, IaaS is somewhat similar to car leasing: you choose a car, drive it wherever you want and how you want. But it’s important to remember that the car is not yours, which means there are some restrictions.

PaaS can be compared to calling a taxi. The car is not yours, you are not driving either. But you have the right to choose a route. The SaaS concept is somewhat similar to a bus: there is already a chosen route. You can share it with other passengers.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS control

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: control and management. Source of the image

But now let's move on to specific definitions. IaaS is a cloud service that provides the basic computing infrastructure: servers, storage and network resources. In other words, IaaS is a virtual data center.

PaaS is a service that provides a runtime environment for developing, testing, and managing applications. PaaS enables software developers to deploy applications without the need for a complete infrastructure.

SaaS is the place where part of the software is hosted by a third party and can be accessed via the Internet. As a rule, just logging in is enough for this. Most SaaS applications are aimed at the end user and run directly through the browser. In other words, they do not require any downloads or installations on the client side.

How is the service provided

The simplest option among the three concepts is SaaS. In this case, there is no need to download and install any clients on each individual computer. SaaS provision is reproduced through a web browser. Therefore, the only thing needed is network access.

PaaS has a similar approach, but there is an exception. PaaS does not provide ready-made software over the Internet, but only a platform for its creation.

IaaS is a more complex model in this situation, since the entire infrastructure is provided through virtualization. All software is provided by companies through system panels or APIs. This gives full control to the company that receives such services. But at the same time, it is necessary to ensure the installation and configuration of middleware, operating systems, etc.

Advantages and disadvantages

IaaS is a full-blown concept that provides an almost complete range of capabilities for its users. Among the advantages of infrastructure as a service, the following:
  • saving on expenses for the purchase of hardware;
  • support for the hardware environment (servers, storage, network resources) is also provided at the expense of the supplier;
  • the best scalability, in comparison with other concepts;
  • the ability to reduce the amount of resources consumed if the demand for the application has fallen;
  • reliability and safety;
  • full control over the infrastructure;
  • the ability to expand the amount of resources consumed as necessary.

IaaS does not have many shortcomings, but they can become key when choosing a concept. So, this approach is the most expensive, since you are actually renting a whole hardware infrastructure. In other words, IaaS will save your budget, but this does not mean that you will spend several times less.

In addition, all issues related to infrastructure management remain under your responsibility. Accordingly, it is necessary to allocate time for this, as well as possess the necessary knowledge, so that all processes are effective.

PaaS – beloved by many developers, the concept of cloud computing. Today, it is increasingly chosen and there is a small chance that in subsequent years PaaS will become a routine practice, since it:

  • reduces development time, as server components are configured by the supplier;
  • supports several programming languages, which allows you to develop different projects;
  • provides easy collaboration for remote teams, which is especially relevant in the era of outsourcing.

Some people have a question: why PaaS has not become the main focus today? The answer lies in two flaws:

  • there is no way to control a virtual machine that processes data;
  • less flexibility and scalability.

SaaS cannot be called the most common model, but it is the most famous. Almost every service that is accessible through a web browser is based on this concept. It offers many benefits for both individuals and businesses:

  • access to applications from anywhere in the world;
  • can be used on any device (including smartphones, since most SaaS solutions have mobile versions);
  • automatic software update;
  • troubleshooting by the supplier;
  • minimum costs;
  • available out of the box - just register.

Again, SaaS is not ideal. First of all, you will have absolutely no control over the equipment. The supplier responsible for troubleshooting: but where is the guarantee that he will solve the problem from the first update? In addition, only the supplier can change the software configuration.


In addition to the complete flaws, each concept has limitations. This is not to say that they clearly negatively affect work processes. But without taking them into account, it is impossible to make the right choice.

IaaS. Among the special limitations of IaaS, many highlight security. While the client controls applications, data, middleware, threats can still come from the host or other virtual machines.

In addition, there is a huge problem using legacy systems. While the client can run them in the cloud, the infrastructure may not be designed to provide controls and protect older applications. Therefore, before migrating to the cloud, additional updates are required.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS Limitations

IaaS Limitations. Source of the image

Also, for effective management of the new infrastructure, additional training is required. Often it does not take much time, but if you ignore it, there are problems of resource control.

PaaS. As with IaaS, many developers claim the key issue is data security. Organizations can run their applications using PaaS, but data stored on third-party servers pose risks. Security settings remain limited because the client is not able to deploy services with a specific hosting policy.

Also, PaaS cannot be a pluggable solution for previously existing applications and services. Instead, you need to do additional configuration and configuration so that legacy systems can integrate with PaaS.

SaaS. The first problem is integration with existing applications. If the SaaS application has not been developed in accordance with open integration standards, then you cannot use the two software at the same time. As a rule, most SaaS today can be easily used simultaneously (for example, Trello and Timesheets). But there are a few exceptions, because of which organizations are sometimes forced to design their own systems or reduce their dependence on SaaS.

Due to the fact that the control over data processing remains with the supplier, the user is not always able to transfer confidential data. SaaS applications guarantee security, but remember that they are accessible through simple registration. Accordingly, it will be easier to get unauthorized access than in the previous two options.

SaaS solutions also offer limited personalization options. Yes, you can choose the templates that you like best. But the same patterns are available to any user.

In what cases is used

The first question that comes up when moving to the cloud is: which concept to choose? It just won’t work out, because they provide a different set of possibilities. Based on the above factors, we can draw the following conclusions.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS concepts

When are concepts used. Source of the image

IaaS will be most beneficial for small startups to save time and money on the purchase and creation of hardware and software. In addition, this option is suitable for larger companies that have constant scalability. Thus, every time you need to get more capacity, the company can simply change its infrastructure provider.

Examples of scenarios when you can use IaaS:

  • hosting of websites or applications;
  • virtual data centers;
  • data analysis.

PaaS is useful for streamlining workflows. For example, when several developers are working on the same project. This concept is especially useful when you need to create customized applications. It is called the perfect choice for software companies.

SaaS is focused on the end user, rather than on a company or development team. Therefore, the following scenarios are optimal for him:

  • E-commerce SaaS startup;
  • a short-term project that requires quick and affordable cooperation;
  • applications that are not used very often (for example, tax accounting software).
  • Email;
  • CRM.

Examples of use of the concepts

Each of these approaches has already received worldwide recognition, because global corporations are actively moving to their use. Moreover, IT giants provide their own resources to create IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS Examples

Examples of use of the concepts. Source of the image

One of the best known IaaS examples is Amazon Web Services. AWS is controlled by Amazon and is used for on-demand cloud computing. It helps companies store data and provide content on websites, information portals and blogs. Other examples of IaaS include Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, and Magento 1 Enterprise Edition.

A popular example of PaaS is the Google App Engine. It helps developers create and host web applications in the cloud-based data centers operated by Google. Other examples: OpenShift, Magento Commerce Cloud, Apache Stratos.

Speaking of SaaS examples, you can list a lot of applications, because today browsers are oversaturated with them. All developers actively use Jira - project management software from Atlassian. Another good example is the well-known Dropbox file hosting service. Some more examples: Salesforce, ZenDesk, Zoho, Slack, Hubspot, Asana.

Which concept will suit you?

It's time to choose which cloud service your business needs. In fact, the choice depends entirely on your business goals. Therefore, first of all, think about what your company needs. Talk to your team and find out exactly what they are missing. The wrong choice of cloud environment can negatively affect business performance, so you should not make this decision yourself.

Merehead does professional development of IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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