IaaS, PaaS and SaaS - How to Choose a Cloud Computing Service Model

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Jonasz Denko

Updated May 25, 2024 • 9 min read
Choosing a cloud computing service model

The global cloud computing market is rapidly growing as companies look to utilise the latest technology to save resources and enhance security surrounding their all-important data.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS), are three of the cloud-based models leading the increased demand and powering an industry expected to rapidly grow. The global cloud computing market could be worth as much as $832.1 billion by 2025 according to MarketsandMarkets.

But out of IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS, which model is the best for you and your business? Here we will go through the pros and cons of each to help you choose the most appropriate.

What is IaaS

In a typical IaaS approach, the provider shares physical hardware (computer power, storage, RAM, network), operating systems and virtualization technology with the client.

Any resources provided in the IaaS model are hosted and maintained on the provider side. This client environment is usually multi-tenant with several users sharing a server to reduce costs. It works like a traditional data centre but without the client needing to invest in infrastructure maintenance.

Some leading public cloud providers include DigitalOcean, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud.

What is PaaS

This model provides a platform for software and app development. As it is created on a similar infrastructure to the IaaS model, there is no need for companies to invest in their own data centres, but also, thanks to PaaS, install software or buy licences. It is mainly used by professional developers.

Some examples include Heroku, AWS Beanstalk, the Google app engine and Apprenda.

What is SaaS

In this model, clients can buy ready to use software. Any product installation, management or maintenance is looked after by a provider.

From a business perspective, this is similar to licensing a program, but in this case the client only gets access (via a username and password) to the service portal - there is no need to download a program, insert a CD or run anything on the company's own hardware. Instead, the only requirements are a web browser and online connection. This is often available as a monthly or annual subscription

Some examples include Jira (Atlassian Cloud), Google Docs, Gmail, Salesforce and Slack.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS - advantages and disadvantages

Below you can find information pros and cons of each cloud computing service model.

Advantages of IaaS

  • Enhanced flexibility: This model offers greater flexibility for clients around their solutions as no long-term commitments on an operating system or physical hardware model are needed. A solution can instead be updated or replaced when required. It can also be adjusted to usage based on demand.
  • Greater cost savings: The pay-as-you-go model allows businesses to only pay for the resources they use. They can avoid investing in physical servers or install hardware meaning services can be brought to market more rapidly.

Disadvantages of IaaS

  • Vendor lock: By using various services from one vendor, a company can be locked on a single vendor. In case of any issue with these services or cooperation with the vendor, it can lead to challenges around fast or easy migration.
  • Cloud experts required: Businesses may need cloud experts on board to create and manage their cloud infrastructure.

Who is this model for

IaaS works effectively for small startups looking to avoid spending money on hardware infrastructure and software. Using the IaaS model can be good for those businesses expecting to see rapid growth as it offers the flexibility to adjust to increased demand.

Advantages of PaaS

  • Easy to use: PaaS is very easy to use with no need to buy a license, install or maintain tools. Developers can easily collaborate with other developers working on an app.
  • Highly scalable: PaaS is highly scalable and available as an out of the box solution - it's important in a dynamic development environment and enables faster time to market. Developers can work on an app and avoid wasting valuable time on settings and software development.

Disadvantages of PaaS

  • Less control: Anyone choosing the PaaS model can only control what the platform provider allows. In case of any specific issues, it may be impossible for any deeper investigation into infrastructure. There are also sometimes platform service integration issues with external services.
  • Data stored by PaaS provider: The model offers a potential security risk as the provider is responsible for managing your data’s storage.

Who is this model for

Software development companies looking to focus solely on product development and enhance the speed of time in taking a solution from conception to market.

Advantages of SaaS

  • Easy to use: Users only need a login and password, then they can access the service. This means there is no need to install software, pay for a license or software maintenance. All resources can be accessed directly from within the cloud.

Disadvantages of SaaS

  • Feature limitations: Sometimes SaaS applications are limited in the features they provide when compared with fully installed solutions.
  • Data security: Companies rely on the SaaS provider’s security measures. If a data leak happens, then all information could be exposed and it is down to the provider to fix this issue rather than the client.

Who is this model for

Any companies looking to avoid wasting resources, time on introducing, deploying or installing software that helps them on a daily basis. It is also popular among businesses wanting to avoid potentially complex IT issues and use subscriptions to pay for easy-to-use solutions.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS - how to choose

So now we know more about the differences between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS in cloud computing. But how do you decide which solution might be best for you? Here are some factors to consider:

Consider what you and your business want to achieve

If your main target is to use software to more efficiently organize your daily work, then SaaS might be best. You can subscribe to Jira cloud for your task management, Slack as a team chats and use Gmail and Google Docs for communication and document management.

This will give you all your company needs to operate. If your company prefers to use hardware to be able to start working or set up your software, then consider an IaaS or PaaS solution.

Control time to market, price, flexibility and customization

If you need more flexibility, control and customization options, and additionally you have cloud skills in your team you should consider the IaaS approach.

On the other side - if you want to start developing a product as soon as possible and focus only on this, then choose a PaaS solution - you will lose some control, flexibility, customization and this solution can be more expensive. However, you gain faster delivery time to market and less operational burdens.

A hybrid solution of cloud computing service model

In many cases, a hybrid solution could be adopted and maybe the most applicable. Do your research, consider your business aims and make a decision from there. Good luck! Visit Neguru Cloud Application Development for more information .

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Jonasz Denko

DevOps Engineer at Netguru

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