Cloud computing is slowly becoming the de facto business model for many companies. From startups to more established brands, everyone wants a piece of the Cloud. And it makes sense, too, since Cloud computing affords a great deal of flexibility and advantages to clients worldwide.
But Cloud computing, exemplified by the -as-a-Service (-aaS) suffix, is a complex and nuanced framework that has its advantages and drawbacks, so it is crucial that business owners do their homework and choose wisely.
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IaaS vs. PaaS vs. Saas: What Are the Key Differences?
-as-a-Service, in itself, is pretty meaningless. It's an appendix that needs and extra component to make it whole.
In today's business world -particularly since Cloud integration became a reality-, we find three -aaS items:
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
PaaS vs. Iaas vs. SaaS. These three acronyms form the backbone of Cloud-based computing today, each with its advantages and disadvantages over the rest, so it is up to the business owner to decide which cloud model is best suited to their business' needs.
This schematic illustrates the subtle differences between these three concepts:
Let's delve into this trio of acronyms a little deeper.
Definition: What Is SaaS?
What is SaaS meaning? A SaaS business model is a software delivery method that allows the distribution and access of data from any device with an internet connection.
Pros and Cons
What are the pros and cons of a SaaS business model?
One of the clearest advantages of SaaS is its accessibility. Users need an internet connection and a web browser, which makes SaaS OS-agnostic and greatly versatile.
SaaS enables centralized software updates. That is, once the SaaS company deploys an update on the Cloud, every user can download it and update their software immediately. This facilitates a seamless business operation as there is no downtime or need for extensive security or compatibility testing, as would be the case with on-premises deployments.
No initial investment on hardware
Traditional deployments on-premise usually require a substantial financial outlay to acquire servers, network switches, and other expensive pieces of kit to create the necessary infrastructure to distribute software. Such setup usually leads to problems of compatibility between devices, software conflicts, etc.
A SaaS model does not require such infrastructure, as the software product can be deployed remotely and directly into the user’s device.
Global access to the internet means that SaaS deployments can potentially have a global reach. This greatly enhances a startup’s business opportunities while reducing costs and offering better expandability.
Better and more secure data handling
Traditional data storage solutions involve expensive hardware, plus maintenance & security & disaster recovery costs. Also, there’s always the possibility of hacking a central point of storage that might compromise a lot of data.
In a Cloud environment, data is continuously saved, providing a high degree of redundancy and integrity. An additional benefit is that a user’s data will be readily available even if they switch devices.
There are few drawbacks to SaaS models, but among them are:
Some SaaS vendors are easy to sign up to, but difficult to end the contract with, which might lead to situations where porting to a different vendor might entail substantial charges and fees. Besides, not all vendors use a standard set of APIs and other tools, which might create conflicts and difficulties.
Limited choice of features
SaaS applications are usually provided ‘as is’; in other words, users do not have the opportunity to choose any features that they might want or need for their business.
Over-reliance on the vendor for performance
SaaS users rely on the vendor for the system’s uptime and performance. Cyber attacks, downtime for maintenance, and other factors completely out of the users’ hands will affect the application’s reliance and performance.
Many companies have already implemented a SaaS business model:
- Google Apps
, and many more.
Definition: What Is IaaS?
In Cloud computing, IaaS delivers on-demand computing, networking, and storage resources over the internet, usually with a pay-as-you-go financial model, which many start-ups favor due to its flexibility and convenience as it eliminates large monetary outlays to purchase expensive hardware outright.
Pros and Cons
What are the pros and cons of IaaS delivery?
This business model affords flexibility when a business needs it the most, as it enables start-ups, for example, to access a full hardware infrastructure at a fraction of the cost.
On-demand hardware purchases
Traditional deployments often involve the purchase of hardware components, which poses an inherent risk. What if these components turn out to be unsuitable for your needs? Maybe it’s too much hardware, or too powerful (and therefore, more expensive?)
Hardware acquisition in an IaaS business model is on-demand, in other words, what you need, when you need it.
This relates to this business model’s flexibility. Startups usually begin small and grow exponentially, so it makes sense to use IaaS and focus on business growth during the company’s first few months of existence. Then, as the business expands, it’s easy to scale up due to IaaS as-you-need payment model.
A ‘traditional’ organization must have robust and secure systems to ensure the continuous availability of its infrastructure. In other words, the business must be able to continue to operate. This puts pressure on IT departments.
IaaS provides resilience against outages that would hinder a business’s progress, as it is the system provider’s responsibility to maintain the network and guarantee uptime.
Companies relying on the IaaS business model might face a dilemma over security, as they will have to trust the service provider with data handling. This might pose a security risk from a data privacy point of view, for example.
Over-reliance on the service provider
The relatively low cost and on-demand flexibility do have a drawback. The startup has to completely rely on the service provider or everything, from security updates to data management.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) IaaS
AWS EC2 is a prominent example of the IaaS business model, as it provides a scalable infrastructure solution for startups (or any other companies) that want to migrate their business to a cloud-based environment.
Develux features in-house AWS expertise and is able to offer practical advice and solutions for clients looking to evolve into the Cloud.
Some companies using an IaaS business model include:
- AWS EC2
- Google Compute Engine (GCE)
- Digital Ocean
Definition: What Is PaaS?
This type of cloud computing offering allows customers to develop, run, and manage applications on the Cloud, thus removing the inherent complexity of creating a computing infrastructure of their own.
Pros and Cons
What are the pros and cons of PaaS?
Because PaaS offers existing infrastructure, startups are faced with minimal requirements in terms of deployment, which leads to a rapid entrance to the market and a more substantial presence.
The on-demand nature of PaaS enables careful planning and scalability of the solution. As more components are needed to address business growth, the opportunities are there to leverage existing resources and expand it.
PaaS offers a ‘ready-made’ solution, which significantly reduces operational costs. This business model is an excellent and viable choice for startups whose resources might be limited.
Quick deployment to market
Leveraging an existing infrastructure enables startups to ‘pick and choose’ existing components, help the company achieve market presence quicker, and save time and costs.
As SaaS’s case, some vendors might be easy to sign up to, but difficult to end the contract with, which might lead to situations where porting to a different vendor might entail substantial charges and fees. Besides, not all vendors use a standard set of APIs and other tools, which might create conflicts and difficulties.
Data security and privacy
Companies relying on the IaaS business model might face data security and privacy issues, as in some cases, the PaaS vendor might host its databases with third-party companies. This might result in startups or other companies having their data compromised.
- WS Elastic Beanstalk
- Windows Azure (mostly used as PaaS)
- Apache Stratos
- Magento Commerce Cloud
So Which -aas Model Is Best Suited to Your Business?
Being well informed of each of these business models' advantages and drawbacks is only half the battle. Now you need to decide which of these three Cloud computing models (SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS) is best suited to what your business needs to do to thrive.
So it is time to take stock of your business, see where you are in your roadmap, and have a chat with your Chief Financial Officer to make a sound decision.
Limited resources (Small to large enterprises) - Definitely SaaS
SaaS is the safest choice for small and large enterprises that can call on limited resources, particularly at the start of their business journey. The reason for this is that SaaS enables clients to avoid significant financial expenditures at a crucial time. With SaaS, clients can access high-value hardware and software at a very affordable price.
Average resources (Medium to large enterprises) - Consider PaaS
Why? Minimal development, but high yield. Faster innovation. Scalability. If your business has average resources, PaaS offers a cost-effective and high degree of customization, while enabling a quick deployment to your target market.
Considerable resources (Medium to large enterprises) - IaaS is probably best for you
As resource availability grows, so do the opportunities. IaaS offers almost total control of the technology, plus great flexibility and cost-effective on-demand solutions, coupled with outstanding resilience.
Summary: SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS
There's a risk of external management data issues conciliating the functionality you're using with any service. But knowing the structure of each one will help you determine the right approach for your industry.
Now, let's compare SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS like a Pizza Service.