IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are the building blocks of modern cloud computing. Like the “aaS” part of the acronym in each of these terms implies, these are solutions offered “as a service” – on-demand to customers as and when they need to use them.
Taking away the need for businesses to manage their own infrastructure, platform or software, these cloud offerings give them the space to focus on the core of their business instead. The “as a service” model has become one of the defining characteristics of the cloud today.
IaaS, PaaS or SaaS: which cloud service offering should you select for your business? Let’s find out by taking a quick look at what IaaS, PaaS and SaaS actually mean.
IaaS – To Host
IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, refers to access to storage, networking, servers and other cloud computing resources, offered to a business by a vendor. In IaaS, users are provided with a ‘virtual server’ on which they can host their applications and data.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine (GCE) are some of the most popular IaaS providers.
PaaS – To Build
PaaS is Platform as a Service, where access to a cloud-based environment is provided by a service provider, enabling application development and other cloud computing solutions. In PaaS, users receive a platform (runtime) and environment.
Users, in this case, are generally developers of applications. Popular PaaS providers include Google App Engine, SalesForce, IBM Bluemix, OpenShift, and Heroku.
SaaS – To Consume
SaaS is software as a service, where a software application developed by a service provider is made accessible on a subscription basis to individual users or companies via the internet. SaaS, in effect, is a business model through which a license for use of pre-developed software is made available to users.
The users here are typically end users of cloud solutions, and are not necessarily technical experts. Gmail, Facebook, Office 365 and Google Apps are all examples of SaaS.
Most small businesses and even some mid-size businesses often opt for SaaS solutions.
When to Choose SaaS
SaaS is the cloud offering that focuses on the consumption of services. It is, therefore, the model of choice for small-size businesses, as it requires no additional manpower or technical expertise to manage. It requires nothing more than an internet connection and a device in order to enable the consumption of the service.
With SaaS, there is no need to install any software locally, and no need to manage upgrades and updates, as they happen automatically when the device is connected to the cloud. Moreover, cloud computing services based on SaaS are accessible from almost any device connected to the internet, from anywhere in the world.
If you are looking for a cost-effective, simplified way to work on specific tasks without need for technical complications, then SaaS is your go-to model while choosing a cloud offering.
When Not to Choose SaaS
While SaaS is quick and easy to get started, you will be working with an off-the-shelf application which will likely not offer much by way of customization or control. Another challenge you may find with certain SaaS applications is that they may not integrate with or communicate effectively with other applications you may be using.
If you want a customized application for your business needs that will make you stand out from the rest of your industry, and if you have the resources to manage them, then you are probably better off giving SaaS a miss.