IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS: What are the differences?

In this blog, we are going to explore the detailed difference between IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS computing Models.

Three of the most common cloud service types are infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).

If you’re starting to learn about cloud computing, you’ve probably come across the acronyms IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. So what do they stand for?

What are the differences between these three types of cloud services? Read on to find out what IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are and how they differ from each other!

If you’re considering utilizing cloud services, you may be wondering whether to go with infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or software as a service (SaaS).

In this article, we’ll look at each type of cloud computing and explain their differences, focusing on the advantages, Characteristics, limitations, and examples, of each.

IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS

The right service for your needs IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), also known as virtual servers, is a cloud-computing model that allows you to rent servers, storage, networking gear, and so on.

This is different from PaaS (Platform as a Service) where companies offer tools and services that run atop their own cloud infrastructure.

With SaaS (Software as a Service), users subscribe to applications rather than renting hardware or software.

If you’re looking for flexibility, scalability, and cost savings then IaaS is likely your best bet.

If you want more control over how an application works or if it integrates with other applications in your organization then PaaS might be better suited for your needs.

And if you just need access to specific applications then SaaS will work well for you, When choosing between these three models.

It’s important to keep in mind that they each have their pros and cons and no one solution is necessarily better than another one. It really depends on what your business needs are.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS: What are the differences?

Cloud infrastructure services, known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), consist of high-speed, highly scalable, and highly automated computing resources.

IaaS provides virtualized computing power, memory, and storage for users. Users do not have to manage any hardware or software, but they do have to pay a fee based on usage.

This is an extremely scalable service that allows businesses to easily add new computing resources without being concerned about infrastructure.

With IaaS, one has complete self-service access to networking, computers, storage, and other services, With IaaS, businesses can purchase as many or as few resources as they need on-demand.

Advantages of IaaS

The obvious benefit to IaaS is flexibility. You have absolute control over your cloud and how it’s set up something you don’t get with either PaaS or SaaS.

When you don’t need that level of control, however, IaaS might not be worth it for you.

It can cost a lot more in terms of computing resources (typically measured in megabytes) and can be harder to manage if you lack hardware expertise.

If you want to take advantage of public cloud services but don’t want to pay as much upfront, IaaS could be a good fit.

IaaS is good for people who know what they’re doing when it comes to managing virtual machines.

Characteristics of IaaS

In our fast-paced world, it’s not surprising that infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is one of three major categories of cloud services.

IaaS provides enterprise users with access to infrastructure and hardware, which allows them to build applications and conduct business in real-time.

IaaS is also known as on-demand computing or pay for what you use technology.

Since companies don’t have to buy servers, storage space, and other equipment upfront and then install it all they can save money over time.

It’s simple: The more your company uses its resources from an IaaS provider, the more you save.

As such, most companies start out by using only part of their available capacity so they can scale up if needed later on.

Limitations of IaaS

The downside of IaaS is that it can be expensive if your business has spikes in demand because you’re still paying for hardware you don’t use when demand drops off.

This means it might not be a good fit for seasonal businesses or those with unpredictable workloads.

If you have a predictable workload, though, and need to scale up quickly, IaaS could work well for you.

Just keep in mind that there may be some limitations on what you can do without getting into custom coding.

For example, Amazon Web Services limits users from creating clusters larger than five servers unless they have an enterprise account.

Examples of IaaS

  1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  2. Microsoft Azure
  3. Google Compute Engine (GCE)
  4. DigitalOcean
  5. HP Public Cloud
  6. Rackspace
  7. Linode

When to Use IaaS?

If you don’t mind managing your own OS, storage, and network while waiting for more specialized features to be built into an IaaS platform, then it can be a cheaper and more flexible option.

Some companies prefer to use IaaS as they’re growing and expanding so that they can add resources as needed.

This is often referred to as pay-as-you-go or on-demand. In some cases, companies will also opt for IaaS if they want to be able to control how their data is stored and managed (for example, using a private cloud).

Related Article: What is Data Pipeline? Steps, Types, Components

PaaS (Platform as a Service)

IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS: What are the differences?

Cloud platform services, more commonly known as Platform as a Service (PaaS), are a variety of cloud computing products and services geared primarily toward providing building blocks for software developers.

With PaaS, developers have a set of resources they can work with and make new, customized applications.

The development team manages the applications, but storage, servers, and networking can be managed by the enterprise or a third-party provider.

The Benefits of using PaaS include lower costs and quicker time to market. Since most or all of the software development is done for you, your organization doesn’t have to hire developers or other personnel.

Advantages of PaaS

Providers of Platform as a Service solutions manage all servers, storage, and networking infrastructure, which leaves your team free to focus on developing applications.

It can be an efficient solution if you have an experienced development team, but it may not be right for projects that require close integration with existing IT environments.

Also known as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Container-as-a-Service (CaaS), Examples include Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine.

Related Article: How to Perform On-premise to Cloud Migration in Azure?

Characteristics of PaaS

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a cloud model which helps users develop, test, and deploy their applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

  • Like IaaS, it also has a pay-per-use pricing structure.
  • But unlike IaaS, you don’t have to worry about setting up your own servers.
  • Instead, you can focus on developing your application on top of an existing platform.
  • Uses virtualization to efficiently deploy computing resources based on changes in your developer.
  • Offers a variety of solutions for developers such as assisting with testing and deploying lots of applications.
  • Available to many users by means of the same app.
  • Capable of connecting to a database or a service.

Limitations of PaaS

While developing an application in a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environment allows developers to avoid common obstacles that come with infrastructure management, there are several.

Here are Five main limitations of using a PaaS to build an application:

  • The vendor locks you into their platform Many vendors will offer their own proprietary frameworks and libraries for building applications on top of their service offerings.
  • This can be problematic if you want to use your app outside of their service, or if you want to develop it for multiple platforms or devices.
  • You don’t have control over scaling – When an application is deployed on a PaaS provider’s servers, those servers may not always be able to scale quickly enough as demand increases.
  • Your data isn’t yours – If you choose to host your data on a PaaS provider’s servers, then technically they own that data.
  • No ability to customize – As mentioned above, many PaaS providers lock users into their proprietary frameworks and libraries for building apps on top of their services.

Examples of PaaS

  1. Google App Engine
  2. AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  3. Windows Azure
  4. OpenShift
  5. Heroku
  6. Salesforce
  7. Apache Stratos

Related Article: What’s Google Cloud? – How It Is Different From Others?

When to Use PaaS?

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is great when you need to focus on your product or service and less on hardware, software, and platform resources.

Using PaaS in your business means you only have to worry about developing your idea while not having to install, integrate, manage or configure software platforms or servers.

This allows you to save time by letting someone else deal with these issues instead of you.

It also gives you more flexibility because if you ever decide to switch providers or providers go out of business, you won’t be left scrambling for another option.

SaaS (Software as a Service)

IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS: What are the differences?

Software as a Service is a widely-used option for businesses that choose to go with the cloud.

Using the internet, Software as a Service (SaaS) provides cloud-based apps, which are managed by a third-party vendor, to its users.

Most SaaS applications are internet-based and can be accessed without downloading any files onto the user’s device.

Many businesses have adopted Software as a Service due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness.

One of the biggest benefits of using SaaS is that it’s easy to use, and many companies like it because they don’t need to install anything on their computers.

Another benefit is that you only pay for what you use, which means there are no long-term contracts or up-front costs for subscription services.

Advantages of SaaS

Cloud software, SaaS, in particular, provides numerous advantages to companies and employees by vastly reducing the time and resources used for common tedious tasks such as installing, managing, and upgrading software.

This lets technicians work on technical issues that would be put on the backburner. 

Cloud software also allows employees to access their programs from any computer with an internet connection, which is especially helpful for remote workers and telecommuters.

Another benefit of cloud software is its ability to easily scale up or down based on a company’s needs, giving companies complete control over their IT budget and expenses.

Characteristics of SaaS

When companies buy software as a service, they don’t need to worry about how that software is hosted or what operating system it runs on.

The service provider takes care of all those details and customers can access their applications over a network via any device.

Here are some of SaaS’s most common Characteristics :

  • Accessibility on mobile devices, desktops, etc.
  • Ability to scale up or down depending on demand.
  • Pay-as-you-go model with no long-term contracts.
  • Software updates automatically.
  • 24/7 customer support.
  • Automatic backups.
  • User data is stored in the cloud (no local storage).

Limitations of SaaS

Most businesses rely on Software as a Service (SaaS) to run and grow their operations. The upside of using SaaS is that it’s accessible anytime, anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

However, there are limitations on what type of data you can store in a cloud service, and often there is a limit to how much data can be stored.

This could be a problem if your business needs to keep large amounts of data for research or other purposes.

In addition, some companies might not want all their information hosted in one place for security reasons.

If you want more control over your data storage solution, IaaS may be right for you.

Examples of SaaS 

  1. Salesforce
  2. Cisco WebEx
  3. Concur
  4. Google Workspace
  5. Dropbox
  6. Microsoft Office 365

When to Use SaaS?

A key question for most startups is when to use a software-as-service model. In some cases, building your own software can actually be beneficial; in others, it’s more cost-effective and efficient to outsource that work.

As with most technology decisions, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for when you should use SaaS. But here are a few factors to consider:

  • How much control do you need over your data?
  • How much customization do you need?
  • Do you want all of your data stored on your servers or someone else’s?
  • How complex is your business logic/codebase, and how long will it take to build (and maintain)?
  • Can an off-the-shelf solution meet all of your needs at lower costs than custom development would require?

The Common Example of all SaaS, PaaS, & IaaS

When it comes to Cloud computing models, there are three that get a lot of attention: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Each has very different functions and purposes.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is Probably THE most commonly known example of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) which also provides different PaaS and SaaS.

Through AWS you can rent computational power, storage space, databases, and more for specific periods of time using pre-configured virtual machines.

Here’s an example of an IaaS that could be used in conjunction with a public DNS service like Amazon Route 53 (R53) or a free one offered by your domain provider: Your DNS records need to be hosted on a different server.

If you use R53, you can create AWS instances (Instances are synonymous with virtual machines) in their Virginia (us-east-1) or California (us-west-1) regions and they will happily host your R53 zones without any issues.

Related Article: What is a Virtual Private Cloud in AWS?


As-A-Service delivery models are growing more and more popular, but it’s important to understand their individual pros and cons.

While IaaS is still a great choice for companies looking to host their own applications, both Paas and Saas can offer better solutions in certain situations.

With proper planning, however, you can get exactly what you need without having to choose one model over another.

In fact, depending on your specific needs, any of these three as-a-service types might be just right for your company.

If you want to learn more about choosing between IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS or would like help with choosing a hosting provider that best fits your business needs, contact us today.

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