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5 Key Differences Between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

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Hiba Ali

Senior Writer: Hiba Ali

green tickReading Time: 8 Minutes
green tickPublished : May 3, 2022

The significant speed, reliability, and availability of today’s internet connections have boosted the growth of the cloud computing industry considerably. 

The majority of us who work in offices use SaaS (software as a service), and those who work in IT and application development might be familiar with IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service). The as-a-service model has become universal.

Different types of cloud computing service modelsSource

It has become swift and easy to perform and share complex tasks online anytime. For this reason, the amount of cloud-based work has been increasing at an astonishing rate for most businesses.

Cloud-based services have changed how businesses do business, enabling them to access IT infrastructures, SaaS management platforms, software, and applications remotely via the internet and cyber hotspots. 

When it comes to moving an organization’s eCommerce business to the cloud, organizations must understand the following three terms:

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS)

But, what are SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS in cloud computing? IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are the three primary types of cloud computing. All three models have their benefits, features, and downsides. 

As-A-Service: What Does It Mean?


The service provider holds and handles the IT assets in cloud computing, while the customer pays to use them on a pay-per-use or subscription basis. Then, the user accesses the service online.

Let’s say you need a SaaS management software platform. You can have a team of developers create it, or you can purchase one, or you can rent one. In this case, renting a managed platform service could be the fastest and most cost-effective option.

The 3 Types Of Cloud Computing Service Models Explained


IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS in cloud computing are distinct yet interrelated. Depending on the organization’s needs, organizations can use them independently or simultaneously.

Consider your organization’s technology needs as layers:

  1. The software layer is the top-most layer, including your applications and data.
  2. This middle platform layer comprises middleware, runtime, and operating system. This middle layer contains everything you need to run applications at the top.
  3. The infrastructure layer consists of your servers, networks, virtualization, and storage.

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS differ primarily by which layers you manage yourself versus those operated by the service provider. For example, consider a scenario where your company already has IT infrastructure. In such a case, you might only use SaaS and PaaS.

All three service models allow you to adapt to your workload. Depending on your needs, you can use one or all three models simultaneously. Let’s look at the difference between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: 5 Key Differences


1. Definition

A: SaaS: SaaS (Software as a service) refers to cloud-based software hosted online by a business, is available for buy on a subscription basis, and is provided to customers via the internet.

SaaS allows you to focus on running your business. It is an excellent option for businesses without the workforce or bandwidth to handle software installations and updates.

Some examples of SaaS include:

  1. Google Workspace (formerly GSuite)
  2. Dropbox
  3. Salesforce
  4. Cisco WebEx
  5. SAP Concur
  6. GoToMeeting

B. PaaS: PaaS (Platform as a service) is an online, cloud-based development and deployment environment that allows the delivery of everything from accessible, cloud-based apps to advanced, cloud-enabled enterprise applications.

You should consider PaaS if you need to create and deploy applications quickly and streamline workflows when numerous creators work on the same task.

Some examples of PaaS include:

  1. AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  2. Windows Azure
  3. Heroku
  5. Google App Engine
  6. OpenShift

C. IaaS: IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) provides end-users with cloud-based alternatives to on-premise, physical infrastructure, allowing companies to purchase resources on-demand instead of the more costly venture of having to buy and manage hardware. 

IaaS provides a quick and flexible method of setting up and tearing down development and testing environments due to its speed of deployment.

IaaS tools help organizations create and handle servers, networks, operating systems, and data storage.

Some examples of IaaS include:

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

Cloud Computing Industry Market Size 2024Source

2. When to Use

A.SaaS: SaaS is perfect for small businesses or startups that can’t develop their software applications.

From e-commerce to short-term projects, SaaS is the fastest and most manageable solution if you don’t need highly customized applications. SaaS is also an excellent option for applications not often used, e.g., tax software.

B. PaaS: In several cases, PaaS would be a good idea. For example, if multiple developers work on the same project, it is a great way to streamline workflows.

You can even incorporate other agents and stay loose during the entire procedure. PaaS is also the right choice if your business requires customized apps to be created and deployed in a concise amount of time.

C. IaaS: IaaS is suitable for organizations of all sizes. Companies that don’t want to invest in hardware and do not have the staff, time, or ability to host large data centers on-premises and large businesses that wish to remain in control of their apps and utilize only the resources they need.

IaaS also provides scalability for companies experiencing rapid growth.

3. What Are The Top Features Of SaaS?

 A. SaaS:  Some essential features of SaaS include:

  1. SaaS companies offer customers software and applications on a subscription basis.
  2. SaaS providers take care of all the management, installation, and software upgrades.
  3. Data is protected in the cloud; equipment loss does not result in data loss.
  4. The use of resources can be mounted depending on service requirements.
  5. Applications are available from practically any internet-connected device, from anywhere globally.

 What Are The Top Features Of PaaS?

 B. PaaS: Some essential features of PaaS include:

  1. PaaS delivers a platform with tools to experiment, create, and host applications in the same environment.
  2. Enables businesses to concentrate on development without stressing about the underlying infrastructure.
  3. Providers handle security, working systems, server software, and backups.
  4. Encourages collaborative work even if teams work remotely.

What Are The Top Features Of IaaS?

C. IaaS: Some essential features of IaaS include:

  1. Instead of buying hardware outright, customers pay for IaaS on demand.
  2. Infrastructure is scalable, relying on processing and storage requirements.
  3. It saves companies the expenses of purchasing and maintaining their hardware.
  4. Cloud computing eliminates any single point of failure, as data is stored in the cloud.
  5. Facilitates the virtualization of administrative tasks, freeing up time for other work.

Key difference in Iaas, Paas, and SaasSource

4. What are the Advantages of SaaS?

A. SaaS: Advantages of SaaS include:

  1. Offloads infrastructure and application administration to the SaaS dealer: The user has to make an account, pay the cost, and start using the application. The vendor handles everything else, from managing server hardware and software to giving users access to data, maintaining security, implementing upgrades and patches, etc.
  2. Minimal risk: SaaS products typically offer customers a free trial period or low monthly fees to try the software to see if it fulfills their needs, with little or no financial risk.
  3. Anytime/anywhere productivity: Users can access SaaS apps through any device using a web browser and an internet connection.
  4. High scalability: The customer can purchase more data storage for a nominal fee by simply registering and paying for new seats.

What are the Advantages of PaaS?

B. PaaS: Advantages of PaaS include:

  1. Faster time to market: PaaS allows development groups to spin-up development, testing, and production surroundings.
  2. Testing and adopting new technologies with low- to no-risk: PaaS platforms generally possess access to a broad range of the latest resources up and down the application stack. This allows businesses to test new operating systems, languages, and other tools without substantial investments or the infrastructure required to run them.
  3. Simplified collaboration: PaaS provides development and operations teams with shared software development tools they can use from anywhere with an internet connection.
  4. More scalable approach: Businesses can buy extra capacity for creating, testing, staging, and running applications whenever they need it.
  5. Less to manage PaaS offloads infrastructure administration, patches, updates, and other administrative chores to the cloud service provider. 

What are the Advantages of IaaS?

C. IaaS: Advantages of IaaS include:

  1. Higher availability: With IaaS, a business can make redundant servers quickly.
  2. Enhanced performance: IaaS customers can find applications and services nearer to users to minimize latency and maximize execution.
  3. Improved responsiveness: Consumers can provide resources in minutes, test fresh ideas quickly, and roll out new ideas to more users.
  4. Comprehensive security: With an increased level of security on-site, at data centers, and via encryption, organizations can often benefit from more advanced safety and protection they could deliver if they hosted the cloud infrastructure in-house.
  5. Faster access to best-of-breed technology: Cloud providers compete by delivering the latest technologies to their customers. IaaS clients can take advantage of these technologies much earlier than executing on-premises.

How cloud computing models manage different elementsSource 

5. Security Architecture

A. SaaS: Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and data can be accessed via web browser. The provider determines the specifics of security and can vary between services.

Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) offer logging, auditing, access control, and encryption capabilities when investigating SaaS security issues. Also, make sure that your SaaS environment includes the following:

  1. Logging and alerting
  2. IP safelists and denylists
  3. API gateways

B. PaaS: By using PaaS, organizations can quickly build applications without managing back-end hardware and software. 

The service provider protects the majority of the environment in a PaaS model, but the business is still responsible for the security of applications it develops. Also, make sure that your PaaS environment includes the following:

  1. CASP (Cloud Application Security Platforms)
  2. Logging and Alerting
  3. API gateway and IP restrictions to ensure secure internal and external access to your APIs.

C.  IaaS: IaaS gives storage and network resources in the cloud, relying heavily on APIs to manage and operate the cloud. However, cloud APIs are often not secure due to their open nature and ease of access.

The cloud service provider (CSP) is responsible for securing the infrastructure and abstraction layer that allows access to resources. However, your organization is responsible for ensuring the remaining layers, such as business applications.

IaaS cloud deployments require the following extra safety features:

  1. Network segmentation
  2. Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
  3. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
  4. Virtual firewalls are placed in front of web applications to protect against malicious code and at the edge of the cloud network.
  5. Virtual routers

Understanding the cloud computing modelsSource

IaaS vs SaaS vs PaaS

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS differ primarily in control and cos

A. IaaS

An IaaS model provides companies with complete control over applications and infrastructure without investing in physical servers, networking, and storage (which are handled by a vendor). 

However, due to the intricacy of the services offered, the cost is higher than other cloud computing models.

B. PaaS

Using PaaS allows companies to control their applications and data while the vendor manages the operating system, middleware, runtime, etc., and the cost of the service is generally low. 

PaaS is ideal for companies that want to create and run their applications without the hassle and complexity of networking, running servers, and coding from scratch.

C. SaaS

Companies with SaaS have less control because vendors manage applications, data, operating systems, storage, networking, etc., but costs are relatively lower. 

As a result, small businesses and industries with fluctuating demand can benefit most from SaaS.

Wrapping Up

As-a-service cloud computing models IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS can allow your organization the flexibility it requires to expand while lowering your SaaS spending. Cloud-based software servers are convenient and manageable for most businesses, allowing them to handle their business’s technical infrastructure virtually, create apps, and access a wide array of tools without buying and maintaining a physical server. 

Eventually, these services can boost productivity and efficiency at your company — and help you grow better.

Updated : September 20, 2022

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