Cloud services are becoming increasingly important in the business world. Almost every organization in the world uses at least one type of cloud service. The more pressing question that companies are asking is what type of cloud service to use: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).

Each type has its own benefits, thus it is crucial to recognize the main differences between these three, to understand what is appropriate for your business.

In this article created by our team at TMS, we will explain in more detail what you need to know about Saas, PaaS, and IaaS.

The Main Differences Between Saas, PaaS, and IaaS

The Main Differences Between Saas, PaaS, and IaaS

These are the three main categories when it comes to cloud computing, which is

the practice of using a network to host, manage, and process the data online. These services use different servers to host this data. It allows companies and businesses to provide customers with online services of varying types.

Each model of cloud computing has its pros and cons, thus recognizing which model is the right fit for a company is important. IaaS, also known as “the public cloud”, has been growing rapidly. PaaS is more focused on developers and has a more niche appeal. SaaS is the most common service and it rents software over the Internet.

Saas, PaaS, and IaaS are simply terms to describe the ways that cloud computing is used for business proceedings.

  • SaaS allows the software to be accessible over the Internet from third parties.
  • PaaS provides tools and platforms that are available on the Internet.
  • IaaS offers cloud services – storage, payments, networking, virtualization.

To understand them better, we can compare the three terms to types of transport.

IaaS is like a leased car. You don’t own it, but you can upgrade or change cars whenever you wish.

PaaS is more like a taxi where you tell the driver where you want to go, but you don’t drive the car yourself.

SaaS could be compared to public transport with pre-set routes and combined rides with other people.

Examples of SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS

Examples of SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS

SaaS: Google Apps, Dropbox, Salesforce, Cisco, Concur, GoToMeeting, Slack

PaaS: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure,, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos

IaaS: Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, Magento 1.

Let’s take a look at the main differences between the cloud computing models.

SaaS: Software as a Service

SaaS: Software as a Service

Cloud application services, or software as a service, or SaaS, is the most common type of cloud computing that businesses use. They deliver the applications over the Internet and are managed by third-party vendors. You can run the software directly through the browser and don’t need to download anything.

SaaS is incredibly easy to use and manage, and it’s also highly scalable. You can use it on several devices and don’t need to install it; rather, you can deploy it easily to your team or employees. It’s a great way to manage and coordinate global teams of freelancers or employees.

The advantages of SaaS:

  • You don’t need to install anything, as you have it readily available on your browser. The only thing you need to do is sign in. Also, there are mobile apps available.
  • You can use the software from any device, and you only need to log into your account from the device.
  • All your staff or associates will be able to use the software without the need to download it. All staff will be able to sign in and use the software.

The disadvantages of SaaS:

  • You have no control over the infrastructure that the software runs on. If there’s an outage, you’re dependent on it.

PaaS: Platform as a Service

PaaS: Platform as a Service

It’s not easy to define PaaS with a sentence or two; think of it as a tool to develop applications and products online. It can be middleware, database management, or analytics. It allows developers to build custom applications online without the need to deal with data serving and storage.

The great advantage of using PaaS is that developers can easily deploy large applications without the need to download or buy the related infrastructure. Instead, everything can be done online – servers, databases, operating systems, and more. Examples of PaaS are Heroku, Google App Engine.

An Example of PAAS is Cloudways, the best platform as a service.

The advantages of PaaS:

  • It gives the administrators a lot of control over the platform software and the applications that are built with the platform.
  • These cloud services often allow and support multiple programming languages, which gives developers the chance to work on several different projects.

The disadvantages of PaaS:

  • You only control what’s being built over the platform, and if there’s a power outage, it will take the software with it.
  • There may be unpredictable charges, especially as the service continues to grow.
  • You have less flexibility and less customer control.
  • You might need basic coding knowledge to get the most out of PaaS.

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS are services that include pay-as-you-go storage, networking, and virtualization. The cloud computing provider will usually provide and manage the physical infrastructure, which includes the servers, the storage, and more. The customer, on the other hand, manages nearly everything else, including the operating system, virtual machines (VMs), or containers, and the other applications that might be used or middleware.

We can compare IaaS to running applications in your own data center. The main difference is that your IT team doesn’t have to deploy, configure, and maintain the physical equipment that your applications use. This allows businesses to get the equipment and services on the premises with reduced on-site resource expenditure.

The advantages of IaaS:

  • Lower or no expenses on hardware infrastructure, including structures such as servers, storage, networking resources, and similar. You won’t need to invest in expensive infrastructure as a business.
  • Good scalability. This is particularly true of cloud-based solutions, which allow access to the additional resources for scaling your apps.

The disadvantages of IaaS:

  • IaaS isn’t necessarily the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO), and your team will still have the majority of the tasks when it comes to managing the associated IT.
  • IaaS costs can be unpredictable. The easy scalability makes IaaS desirable, but you can also expect higher-than-usual Users sometimes forget to shut down instances, which can result in larger costs.

Ending thoughts on SaaS Vs PaaS Vs IaaS

The truth is that each cloud service is appropriate for different businesses. Each cloud computing service has its own pros and cons, and you can simply choose the service that best suits your needs. With IaaS, you gain more control over the applications and the processes, but you will have to keep in mind the higher costs and unexpected fees that might occur.

SaaS, on the other hand, is by far the most popular type of cloud computing service. You can use cloud-based applications without the need to manage the infrastructure.

PaaS is the best for developers who don’t want to spend extra on the needed platforms to complete projects. However, this option, too, comes with some disadvantages.

In the end, each business should consider what exactly they need and make an informed decision. You will need to consider the company’s business goals before choosing the service you need. Here are some of the most common business goals that cloud services cover:

  • For companies that need out-of-the-box services like CRM (even CRM for Gmail), email, collab tools, then it’s best to choose SaaS.
  • If you need a platform for building software products, then you should go with PaaS.
  • If you need a virtual machine, go for IaaS.

If you enjoyed reading this article on SaaS vs PaaS, you should check out this one about SaaS metrics.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like SaaS pricing models, SaaS development, SaaS startups, and go-to-market strategy.