Nowadays, the way of IT departments buying IT has been greatly changed as of the development of cloud computing. A growing number of cloud providers start providing businesses a wide range of paths to the cloud, for example, applications, platforms, or infrastructure. Considered that some people may be confused about the concepts of the various cloud services, this tutorial is written to help them develop a better understanding of three fundamental models—IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, including the basic information and the high-level differences between them.
IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
IaaS, standing for cloud infrastructure services, is a self-service model used to access, monitor, and manage remote datacenter infrastructure, including virtualized or based metal compute, storage, networking, as well as firewalls or other networking services.
In common with other cloud hosting, the expense of IaaS service will be based on consumption but without needing customers to purchase hardware outright. Due to this, enterprise customers can take advantage of IaaS to create IT solutions that is scalable and cost-effective; meanwhile, they can concentrate on their own business by leaving the complexities and expenses of managing the underlying hardware to the cloud provider. Likewise, when customers are looking to expand their businesses, they just need to tap into the cloud resources rather than purchasing, installing and integrating hardware themselves.
Typically, an IaaS offering can deliver features and benefits as follows:
- Scalability: There will be no delays in expanding capacity or the wastage of unused capacity, because resource is available when needed and as much as required.
- No investment in hardware: As the cloud provider is in charge of the IaaS service’s underlying physical hardware, customers can save the cost as well time.
- Utility style costing: Customers can have access to the service when they need it, and they only need to pay for what they actually use.
- Independent location: Usually, the service can be accesses from any location on condition that there is an Internet and security protocol permissible.
- Physical security of data centre locations: An IaaS service is available through not only a public cloud, but also private clouds hosted externally with the cloud provider, thus customers can be beneficiaries of physical security of the server configurations and data center facilities provided by the cloud provider.
- High reliability: Customers with IaaS services can be assured with no single point of failure even when a server or network switch fails to work, the remaining multitude of hardware resources and redundancy configurations will be able to keep supporting them.
IaaS Examples: DigitalOcean, Amazon Web Services (partially-EC2, EBS, S3), Linode, OVH, Rackspace, etc.
PaaS: Platform as a Service
PaaS is a category of cloud computing that provides cloud platform services allowing developers to build applications and other development. Hosted in the cloud, PaaS services can be easily accessed via web browsers.
What developers with PaaS are offered is a framework that they can create or customize software applications upon. PaaS makes it possible for developers to quickly develop and test applications with ease and in an affordable way. Thanks to this technology, 3rd party providers, and enterprise operations are able to manage operating systems, servers, virtualization, networking, storage, and even the PaaS software by themselves. Developers, however, are responsible for application management.
If needed, enterprise PaaS can offer a self-service portal for software developers enabling them to manage computing infrastructure, including centralized IT operations, and a hardware platform. The commercial PaaS can be delivered through a hybrid architecture using both public IaaS and private infrastructure.
Usually, a PaaS offering would include OS, database management system, server-side scripting environment, server software, hosting, network access, tools for design and development, storage, and support. A large group of people, such as web developers, software developers, and businesses can benefit from PaaS.
Just in the case of application developers, they can get the following benefits from PaaS.
- No investment in physical infrastructure: Developers with PaaS can “rent” virtual infrastructure instead purchasing it. On the one hand, they can get cost benefits because they don’t have to spend money on hardware purchasing and they just need to pay for the resources they need. On the other hand, they can get practical benefits as well for the reason that they don’t need to empty the expertise to manage the infrastructure personally.
- Easy to learn: PaaS makes development possible for non-experts due to the one-click functionality. As you could see, there is a growing number of webmasters tending to install software like Drupal or WordPress by using an automatic installer.
- Flexibility: PaaS allows customers to completely control over their platforms to suit their unique demands, including the tools installation, and a new platform creation. Whenever they need, they have the ability to pick and choose whatever features to support their ideas or designs.
- Adaptability: Customers can change the feature by using different dictate, if they wish.
- Team work: It is possible for teams with PaaS in different locations to work together for the same application build. All they need is an Internet connection plus web browser.
- Security: Data security is provided by PaaS service provider. In addition, backups and recovery are also available as required.
PaaS Examples: Google App Engine, Heroku, AWS (partially-DynamoDB, SQS, SNS), etc.
SaaS: Software as a Service
SaaS, or cloud application services, is the most popular among normal consumers and companies. It delivers applications from third-party providers via the web but not develops applications itself. The applications allow clients to access to their interface freely. And customers can run a SaaS application directly from web browsers but don’t need to download or install them, though sometimes they need the help of plugins.
SaaS has a unique web delivery model eliminating the need to have any application installed and run on individual computers. For everything like data, runtime, OSes, servers, virtualization, storage, middleware, and networking are managed by vendors, an enterprise with SaaS can easily streamline its maintenance and support.
- Low cost: As a result of the cloud provider supplying the processing power for running an application, no additional hardware costs is required. Also, there is no initial setup cost because all applications are ready to use once the user subscribes.
- Pay for what you use.
- Automated updates: The cloud provider will take charge of software updates and application deployment automatically.
- Cross device compatibility: SaaS applications can be accessed via Internet enabled phones, tablets, and any other devices from anywhere.
- Customizable: Most applications can be customized to suit the specific needs and branding of customers.
SaaS Examples: Gmail, WHMCS billing software, Microsoft Office365, etc.
IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS
Just from the below tabular format, you can have a brief understanding about the differences between IaaS, Paas, and SaaS.
To summarize, IaaS is the basic layer of cloud computing provides you with infrastructure, plus the freedom to use or install any OS, software, and composition. It requires you have relatively good technical knowledge. PaaS, on the top of IaaS, offers you a platform with everything you demand, such as software, web environment, hardware, and OS, requiring you have the knowledge of subject. Compared to them, SaaS is like a complete package of services, within which everything is pre-installed and pre-configured, so you don’t need worry about technicalities.