SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Which One Is Right for Your Business

Thinking about moving your business operations to the cloud, you need to learn about the difference between – SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS. 

SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Learn the difference between three four-letter acronyms that have changed the way businesses operate better.

In today’s hyper-connected era, the cloud has become a pretty big deal. Businesses resort to it because it reduces the need for building a physical data center. In this way, it helps them save money, streamlines many tasks, improves collaboration, and, above all, ensures faster business growth. 

However, “the cloud” is a broad term. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for all businesses. The cloud refers to where your data is stored and hyper-connected how it is stored. 

If you have been considering migrating your business operations to the cloud, you have probably come across these three terms – SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. 

They stand for the fundamental categories of cloud computing. Each of these cloud service models has several advantages and disadvantages in terms of data security, flexibility, and performance. This guide will help you determine which one is right for you.

What is the difference between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

what is saas?

SaaS: SaaS software that’s available via a third-party over the internet. PaaS: Paas hardware and software tools available over the internet. IaaS: IaaS cloud-based services, pay-as-you-go for services such as storage, networking, and virtualization. 


Infrastructure as a service

IaaS, or infrastructure as a service, vendor deliverers cloud-based infrastructure resources to your business through virtualization technologies. 

This kind of service is often delivered through a dashboard or an API, meaning that your business will have full control of the cloud infrastructure. 

Investing in IaaS is similar to building a traditional on-site data center in terms of control, data security, and technologies. The only difference lies in the fact that you do not need to maintain and manage your infrastructure physically. 

Servers, hard drives, virtualization, networking, and storage are outsourced to the cloud and managed by the IaaS vendor. Unlike SaaS or PaaS users, IaaS users need to manage applications, middleware, data, and runtime on their own.

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When to Use IaaS?

Startups and SMBs may prefer IaaS because it has the traits of the traditional data center, without purchasing expensive hardware and software components. 

Larger enterprises may also reap many benefits of IaaS. Namely, they will above mentioned maintaining complete control of their applications, data, and infrastructure and yet, pay only what they are using. IaaS is impressively flexible, letting both small and large businesses scale specific hardware and software needs both up and down, as their business demands change.

The Major Benefits of IaaS

One of the most significant benefits of IaaS is increased data security. Namely, your team can implement third-party security services into their existing IaaS infrastructure. 

This is particularly important to large enterprises and organizations operating in highly regulated industries, such as government, financial, legal, or medical, where the safety of their sensitive data is their top priority. 

To manage all components and apps seamlessly on the cloud and reduce security risks, many enterprises and companies in regulated sectors choose private cloud providers that offer hyper-converged infrastructures. 

HCI simplifies the traditional complex cloud infrastructure and helps them develop business-driven data centers on the cloud, no matter if they are using private, hybrid, or industrial cloud.

IaaS also ensures greater uptime and eliminates single points of failure. Namely, an IaaS provider will scatter your resources across multiple servers and data centers. Therefore, if a server goes offline, your company’s infrastructure will not be harmed.

Like I have already mentioned above, both large and small businesses can benefit the high flexibility of IaaS. You are paying only for the resources and servers you use. As your business needs grow, you can easily scale your infrastructure up.

The Major Disadvantages of IaaS

Your IT teams are responsible for maintaining and upgrading software. This provides you with greater control of your data, but also requires equipping your teams with proper tools, as well as providing ongoing employee training and education. 

When investing in traditional cloud solutions, you may also face many problems with migrating legacy apps. 

Due to the lack of reliability guarantee for traditional cloud computing architectures, you may need to make a minor change to your legacy apps before moving them to the cloud, which may, again, lead to new security issues. 

This is where, again, investing in HCI-based cloud can help, as it will make specific optimizations to meet the high requirements of stability and network security for your critical applications. 


Platform as a service

PaaS is short for “platform as a service,” and it is primarily used by developers. A PaaS vendor provides platform developers can use to unique and customizable software upon. 

When investing in PaaS, developers can create applications without having to worry about menial tasks, such as data serving, storage, software updates, or infrastructure. 

When to Use PaaS?

PaaS is especially popular among businesses that want to build their software or applications without spending a fortune or risking their security. It is like the difference between building your company headquarters from scratch vs. renting office space. 

In the latter example, you get fully equipped office space you can customize to your specific needs. The same goes for PaaS. The platform is available to numerous developers via the same development application. Developers further create authentic apps that are built into the PaaS. These apps are called middleware.

The Major Benefits of PaaS

The major benefit of PaaS is that it builds on virtualization technologies. This means that the resources are easily scalable, depending on your current business needs. 

PaaS vendors also offer a plethora of services to help developers with the creation, testing, and implementation of apps. 

They allow developers to customize software without needing to write additional lines of code. Finally, with PaaS, you can easily migrate to the hybrid cloud infrastructure. 

The Major Disadvantages of PaaS

There are several limitations of PaaS infrastructures you should consider, including. First, there are many data security concerns, given that you are giving your data to a third-party provider. Second, there are many operational issues to consider. You control only what is built on the platform. If the operating system breaks, for example, your software will also be unavailable. Third, customizing legacy systems is extremely complex and requires significant time investments, which dwarfs the overall PaaS investment.


Software as a service

SaaS stands for software as a service. Those are cloud-based services that are hosted online by a SaaS company. SaaS services are delivered to customers via the internet, usually for a monthly subscription fee.

SaaS is the most common choice for businesses of all shapes and sizes, given that it is easy to use and manage. Apps usually run through your browser, meaning you do not need to download or install anything on your employees’ devices to run an app. SaaS is particularly important to businesses hiring remote teams.

When to Use SaaS?

SaaS models work for companies of all shapes and sizes. Still, they can benefit startups and small businesses that operate with limited time and resources. With SaaS, they can set up online stores faster, as well as improve team collaboration. It is especially important if you are hiring remote teams and want to keep your data available 24/7, both via web and mobile apps.

The Major Benefits of SaaS

Businesses like SaaS models because they free up plenty of time for IT teams and save money. Instead of installing and managing applications on each computer or keeping operating systems up-to-date, your technical staff will have more time to dedicate to pressing matters within your company.

Simply put, when investing in SaaS, you are not responsible neither for hardware nor software maintenance. This is the SaaS vendor’s responsibility. They will manage data, servers, storage, and technical issues, streamlining your operations and allowing you to grow faster. 

Above all, SaaS minimizes communication gaps and improves workplace productivity. No matter if your employees work from your offices or remotely, they just need to log in to access relevant data in real-time.

The Major Disadvantages of SaaS

This ease of SaaS solutions also comes with greater security risks. Namely, when using a third-party SaaS application, you have no control of the cloud infrastructure it runs on. For instance, any unplanned maintenance, online attacks, natural disasters, network issues may impact the performance of your app, as well as harm your overall business operations.

Another great problem associated with SaaS vendors is, unsurprisingly, the lack of customization. Namely, the SaaS vendor offers specific, predetermined integrations, functionalities, and features. 

Understanding the Difference between PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS as explain above have different depending on the application.

From the examples mentioned above, we can conclude that the growing popularity of the cloud is minimizing the need for on-premise hosting. You just need to choose the right solution for your business, depending on its specific needs. If you are still not sure what the significant differences between these three cloud computing server models, this brief recap will help you.

  • IaaS: A vendor manages virtualization, servers, storage, and networking. You manage apps, data, runtime, middleware, and operating systems. 
  • PaaS: A vendor manages virtualization, servers, storage, networking, runtime, middleware, and operating systems. You maintain data and applications. 
  • SaaS: A vendor manages virtualization, servers, storage, networking, runtime, middleware, operating systems, data, and applications. You have nothing to worry about.

Each of the servers mentioned above models provides your business with multiple benefits, such as greater flexibility, data security, and scalability. Above all, they will improve your company’s bottom line in various ways, from reducing the need for expanding your IT team to saving money on hardware and software components.

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General FAQ’S for SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS

What is SaaS?

Here’s a simple SaaS definition: a software distribution model in which a service provider hosts applications for customers and makes them available to these customers via the internet.

What is PaaS?

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model in which a third-party provider delivers hardware and software tools — usually those needed for application development — to users over the internet.

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an instant computing infrastructure, provisioned, and managed over the internet. It’s one of the four types of cloud services, along with software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and serverless.

What are examples of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS?

SaaS: Google Apps, Dropbox, Salesforce, Cisco WebEx, Concur, GoToMeeting. PaaS: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku,, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos, OpenShift. And IaaS: DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE).

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