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Understanding Different Cloud Models: Choosing Between IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS for your Business

May 21, 2024 eye-glyph 78

Table of Contents

    The world has changed since the term cloud was first introduced. Long, boring office meetings have shifted to quick Zoom calls, tea-time chit-chat has found space in Slack threads, and bulk hardware and machinery have vanished into the cloud.

    Not only have businesses started moving on from the traditional on-premises infrastructure, but they have started utilizing applications and platforms as a service.

    Maintenance of hardware and software separately was draining many businesses’ budgets, badly disrupting their operations.

    That’s when cloud computing decided to spread its wings in multiple directions. New cloud models arrived as extensions of what the cloud can offer to cater to the unique requirements of today’s business. Now, companies need not spend millions on buying and maintaining heavy infrastructure or creating or purchasing separate platforms to get many business operations moving.

    When we talk about cloud models, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are always on the hit list. But how are they different from each other?

    Most importantly, it is essential to know what they are and which one is right for your business model. This is the blog where you will find everything you must know about different cloud computing models.

    What are Cloud Models?

    Cloud models or cloud service models refer to the methods by which IT assets and services are delivered to end users via the Internet. These assets include computing power, storage, databases, networking, software, and analytics.

    Cloud Computing Models

    A wide range of users uses three major cloud computing service models:

    1. IaaS (Infrastructure as a service)
    2. PaaS (platform as a service)
    3. SaaS (software as a service)

    Let’s understand each of these and demystify which one suits your business requirements the most.

    1. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

    An Introduction to IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

    Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a popular cloud computing model where you rent essential IT infrastructure, like servers, storage, and networking, from a cloud provider. It’s like having a virtual data center without the physical hardware headaches.

    Here’s how it works:

    • You choose the resources you need (servers, storage, etc.) and pay only for what you use (like a pay-as-you-go phone plan for computing power!).
    • The cloud provider manages the physical infrastructure, including hardware, software, and maintenance.
    • You access and configure your resources through a web interface or API (similar to managing apps on your phone).
    • Instead of buying and maintaining your servers, you rent them from the cloud provider, freeing yourself to focus on your core business activities.

    Benefits and Disadvantages of IaaS

    IaaS Benefits

    IaaS gives customers more flexibility than traditional IT systems in terms of computing resources. You can scale up and down according to your traffic fluctuations. It also helps save on the up-front costs and overhead of purchasing and maintaining on-premises data centers and hardware. What other benefits does IaaS offer:

    • Always Available: With IaaS, it is easy to back up servers even though you have created them in separate geographies, which keeps your business running smoothly even in the event of power outages or physical damage.
    • Low Latency and Improved Performance: As IaaS providers operate data centers in various locations, customers can easily locate apps and services closer to the user, optimizing performance and minimizing downtime.
    • Stringent security: IaaS providers take security seriously. Whether on-site or at data centers, they ensure everything is encrypted and protected, keeping customers stress-free.
    • Easy & Quick Scaling: Whether you need more resources or want to reduce the usage of your existing resources, IaaS can help.

    • Access to every new tech update: Cloud providers update their products according to the latest technological advancements, which IaaS users can benefit from at a much lower cost than buying those functionalities externally.

    Disadvantages of IaaS:

    With pros exist some cons as well. Even though IaaS is excellent, it brings along its setbacks:

    • Security threat: While cloud computing service providers offer extended convenience, security is always a matter of concern. When you have servers right in front of you, you might feel less stressed than when you work in a less secure cloud environment.

    • Unplanned Expenses: Traditional setups are expensive compared to IaaS, which is highly cost-friendly. However, there is still some uncertainty about cost. For example, increased bandwidth usage can lead to higher bills due to pay-as-you-go pricing models.

    • Entire Dependence on Vendor: IaaS relies on third-party providers, making the customer entirely dependent on their quality of service and pricing. For instance, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), customers depend on them for both hardware and software resources.

    Who can use IaaS?

    While IaaS never restricts its customers from taking benefits from its offerings, here are some specific situations in which it is highly advantageous:

    • Startups and Small companies: They can prefer the IaaS model to prevent spending more on purchasing, building hardware infrastructure, and its long-term maintenance.
    • Big Companies: It’s an ideal choice for huge enterprises that want to get complete access to applications and infrastructure and pay only for what they consume.

    IaaS Providers:

    • DigitalOcean, IBM Cloud, Linode, Amazon EC2, AWS, Google Cloud and more.

    Key Takeaways on IaaS

    IaaS offers a scalable and cost-effective foundation for many projects, primarily for those demanding high responsiveness. However, getting the most out of IaaS often requires specialized knowledge, which you can get from a cloud computing consulting services. They can help your team navigate complex processes like machine virtualization with VMware or containerization with Kubernetes.

    PaaS (Platform As A Service)

    An Introduction to PaaS (Platform as a Service)

    Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud-based environment that enables its customers to develop, deploy, and manage applications without stressing over the underlying infrastructure.

    Here’s what PaaS takes care of:

    • Hardware and Software: The cloud provider hosts and manages everything from servers and operating systems to databases and development tools, allowing customers to concentrate on application development.

    • Security and Maintenance: PaaS can handle security updates, backups, and other maintenance tasks, enabling developers to focus solely on development

    Benefits and Disadvantages of PaaS

    Advantages of PaaS:

    • User-Friendly Interface: PaaS offers a graphical interface (GUI) that makes it easy for development and DevOps teams to collaborate on all aspects of the application lifecycle, from coding to deployment.
    • Scalability and Security: The multitenant architecture ensures your application can handle multiple users while keeping data secure.
    • Easy Integration: PaaS simplifies connecting your app to databases and web services using standard protocols like REST and SOAP.
    • Try Before You Buy: With PaaS, you can experiment with new technologies (operating systems and programming languages) without paying any additional upfront costs. It also gives you access to a wide variety of resources without paying extra for hardware or software.
    • Scale Up or Down Easily: PaaS offers a flexible approach that allows you to increase resources easily as and when needed.
    • Fewer IT Headaches: PaaS providers manage the infrastructure, including software updates, security patches, and other administrative burdens.

    In short, PaaS lets your development team focus on developing great applications while the cloud providers handle the rest.

    PaaS limitations and concerns

    • Data Security: Since your data is stored on the PaaS provider’s cloud servers, you might feel uneasy about its privacy and security. This also restricts your ability to have complete control over security settings and meet specific data hosting requirements.
    • Integration Complexity: Connecting your existing data centers and apps with the PaaS solution can be tricky sometimes. Legacy systems might require some specific adjustments to work smoothly with PaaS.
    • Legacy System Customization: You might face difficulties aligning your existing applications and services with PaaS and need help with customizations. However, many companies offer quality cloud computing consulting. They can help you navigate these complexities in the IT environment and make working with PaaS as easy as ever.
    • Runtime Limitations: The PaaS platform might not support all programming languages, frameworks, or versions your team is currently using, limiting you from having multiple development choices and customisation options.

    Who can use PaaS?

    As a versatile cloud computing solution, PaaS has some prime beneficiaries:

    • Developers and Development Teams: It is an ideal and user-friendly platform for developers and their teams to build, deploy, and manage applications. By providing pre-built infrastructure and tools, developers can focus on coding and functionality.
    • Businesses of All Sizes: PaaS is a relatively cost-effective way for businesses to launch applications without having to make upfront hardware and software investments.
    • Startups and Entrepreneurs: It is known to be a flexible yet budget-friendly platform for startups to build and launch their applications quickly and efficiently.

    Paas Providers:

    Force.com, Microsoft Azure, Heroku, Red Hat Openshift on IBM Cloud, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and more.

    SaaS (Software As a Service)

    An Introduction to SaaS (Software as a Service)

    Software as a Service or Cloud Application Development Services are the most utilized and favorite option among businesses. It’s a ready-to-use model that uses the Internet as its home base to deliver applications managed by a third-party vendor.

    Here is how it functions:

    • The vendor manages everything: The software provider takes care of the servers, databases, security, and maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about installing or updating software.
    • Subscription-based access: Customers only have to pay a monthly or annual fee to access the software, typically through a web browser or mobile app.
    • Scalability on demand: Whether you need to increase user accounts or expand storage, you get it all here in SaaS.
    • Wide range of options: SaaS covers applications on a wide variety, from email and social media to accounting and CRM software. Chances are, you already use SaaS in your daily life – email, social media, and cloud storage like Dropbox are all examples.

    Benefits and Disadvantages of SaaS

    SaaS Advantages:

    For those who are already familiar with the benefits of SaaS, here is more to the list:

    • Cost-Effective: It cuts down on the upfront expenses for hardware, software, and licensing, plus the costs of the infrastructure and IT staff to manage them. All you have to pay is a monthly or yearly subscription fee, and as your business grows, you can easily adjust your plan and avoid paying for unused resources.
    • Easy to Use: You don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty of installing servers or software to use the potential of SaaS applications. You can directly sign up with your credentials and start using the software through its application or a web browser. Also, there is no need to worry about updates, as SaaS providers keep adding new features and security patches to keep your application updated and data secure.
    • Accessibility: You can decide the accessibility of your software/application through access control in settings, who can access it, and from where. Although, it’s been a proven option for the teams working remotely in different geographies. Furthermore, customers also get help from 24/7 self-service features, resulting in a better experience.
    • Collaboration: SaaS tools often include built-in features like document sharing, chat, and video conferencing, which facilitate teamwork.

    Disadvantages of SaaS:

    Every coin has two sides. SaaS holds a strong stand, but there are some obstacles also that you must be aware of:

    • Less Control: Unlike in-built applications, you get less control over what’s happening in Saas. You typically have to use the latest version and cannot control when you can upgrade your system.
    • Security Concerns: No matter which cloud-based solution you use, data security is and will always be the prime concern. Try looking for a cloud consultant before getting into the complexities of the cloud solution. They will guide you in getting the right cloud service provider with strong security practices.
    • Limited Options: While SaaS offers a wide range of applications, it might be a better fit for some specific needs. Some specialised software may not be available as a hosted service.
    • Internet Dependence: SaaS applications require a reliable internet connection. If your Internet goes down, you’ll lose access to your software and data.

    Who can use SaaS?

    Here is the list of all the users who can benefit from SaaS applications:

    • For All Businesses: Being a cost-effective solution, SaaS provides businesses access to essential applications without paying anything.
    • Startups & Entrepreneurs: SaaS provides startups with an easy and affordable way to launch and function with essential tools like CRM, accounting, and project management software.
    • Remote Teams and Freelancers: These applications are perfect for remote teams and freelancers as they are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
    • Educational Institutions: For schools and universities, it sounds like a good investment saving cost of installing IT infrastructure investments.
    • Non-profit Organizations: Considering budgetary concerns, SaaS is a good option for non-profits. It also provides access to good software tools, allowing them to focus on their mission.

    SaaS Providers:

    Salesforce, Microsoft, Adobe, Google, Shopify, Hubspot, Zoho, ServiceNow.

    Overall, SaaS is a valuable tool for any business or individual looking to access and grow using powerful software and applications without the burden of managing complex IT infrastructure. Its affordability, accessibility, and wide range of features make it a popular choice for everyone.

    Factors to consider: Right cloud model for your business

    Here’s a roadmap to guide you through this critical decision:

    Factors to Consider Choosing the right Cloud Models for your Business

    1. Know Your Business Inside Out

    For starters, you must know your business inside out and prepare a checklist that enlists your needs:

    • Technical Capabilities: What do you need in terms of technicalities like processing power, storage, capacity, network bandwidth, etc.?
    • Security: Data encryption, intrusion detection and disaster recovery plans.
    • Service Management: Customer Support, scalability, service level agreements (SLAs).
    • Data Governance: Data security protocols, data residency, access control and compliance requirements and adherence.

    2. Evaluate Potential Providers:

    Compare your checklist with the potential providers and look for these factors:

    • Compliance and Certification: Consider choosing providers with certifications like ISO 27001. These certifications highlight their sincerity in delivering quality and ensuring security.
    • Technology & Roadmap: Make sure that your provider’s platform aligns with your cloud requirements and provides a hospitable IT environment. Also, remember to evaluate their service roadmap to see if it is compatible with your future goals.
    • Data Governance: Choose a provider that offers you control over your data’s location and management. Before entering into any agreement, verify that their data loss and breach notification terms are clear with your team.

    3. Understand Service Dependencies:

    Once you know which providers are there, assess their partnerships and service dependencies, such as reliance on several vendors and subcontractors, seriousness about SLAs, accountability, and service disruptions. Another thing that matters is the provider’s policies for handling outages and the limited liabilities you are getting into.

    4. Scrutinize Contracts and SLAs:

    Get clarity on roles and responsibilities regarding service delivery, security measures, data management, backups, legal protection, pricing models, and penalties for service disruptions.

    5. Downtime Management & Data Preservation:

    Verify the provider’s documented process for handling planned and unplanned downtime. Also, evaluate their capabilities to support your data security requirements.

    6. Avoid Vendor Lock-In:

    It is essential to minimize the risk of being locked into a specific vendor. Go with a cloud provider with open standards and minimal proprietary technologies, which will allow for easier migration to other services if needed.

    7. Company Profile & Market Reputation:

    Research the cloud provider’s company profile, client reviews, analyst ratings, and market position. A financially sound provider with a strong track record is likely to offer a more reliable and competitive cloud service.

    By following these steps, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the cloud service provider that perfectly aligns with your business needs and sets you on the path to a successful cloud transformation.

    IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: Which cloud model is ideal for you? 

    Iaas vs Paas vs Saas
    BasisIaaSPaaSSaaS
    Full formInfrastructure as a servicePlatform as a serviceSoftware as a service
    AccessProvide access to various resources like virtual machines and virtual storage.Provide access to run time environment to deployment and development tools for applications.Give entire access to the end user.
    Technical UnderstandingRequires Technical KnowledgeBasic knowledge is required for setup.No requirement for having any technical knowledge as the cloud service provider handles everything.
    UsersUsed by skilled developers to build applicationsUsed by developers with intermediary skillsUsed by all types of users.
    Cloud ServicesAWS, Sun, vCloud ExpressFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Search Engine.MS Office Web, Facebook and Google Apps
    Popular Service ProvidersAmazon EC2Force.comSalesforce
    Managed by ProviderServers
    Storage
    Virtualization
    Networking
    Runtime
    Middleware
    Operating system
    Virtualization
    Servers
    Storage
    Networking
    Application
    Data
    Runtime
    Middleware
    Operating System
    Virtualization
    Servers
    Storage
    Networking

    Finding your way out through the complexities of the cloud might seem tiring, but with the help of a cloud consulting company, you can get clarity on your needs and select the right option. IaaS provides a virtual data centre with maximum control and endless customization to build unique applications. If you want to develop your application, then PaaS is your choice, which gives a platform on top of IaaS, allowing you to focus on development without infrastructural headaches.

    For those looking for a ready-to-use solution, SaaS delivers precisely what you need. With their coherent flexibility and scalability scope, all IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS provide businesses of all sizes with an easy way to grow in the future of cloud computing.

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    The Final Take

    In a nutshell, the cloud isn’t just a trend – it’s the future. By choosing the right cloud service model (IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS) based on your needs, you are keeping your business and your people ahead of the changing norms.

    What you will get in return: smooth operations, exceptional customer service, and a growing business with automated processes. Cyntexa is here to help you in all stages of your cloud journey. From beginning to giving you a helping hand in development and implementation, we offer expert guidance and hosting services from industry leaders like Salesforce, AWS, Google Cloud, and ServiceNow.

    Don’t get limited with the traditional IT systems and let our team clear the cloud dilemmas for you.

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