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Cloud Computing Models: What is IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

Cloud computing is a pretty convoluted subject. There are different solutions, vendors, providers, services, platforms, levels, yadda, yadda, yadda …

Basically, there’s a lot going on.

As a business owner, this is clearly a problem. Where do you start your cloud journey and how do you determine which cloud (if any) is right for your business?

Well, assuming you understand the basics of cloud computing (what it actually is), you then need to understand the different cloud computing models.

So let’s take a quick look at IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS — the three basic models of cloud computing.

IaaS

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) offers the most control over computing resources but is hardly considered a plug-and-play style service.

An IaaS provider delivers resources to a client, and the client is able to use those resources free of an initial investment. As a client, you basically have the ability to serve yourself — think of it as an all-you-can-eat buffet, except you have to pay for each individual item you put on your plate.  

It’s flexible and scalable, and you pick and choose what you need. However, as a client, you absorb much of the responsibility that comes with that infrastructure. This typically includes the operating systems, applications, and data itself.

SaaS

Even as a consumer — not just as a business professional — you’re probably most familiar with SaaS (Software as a Service). This cloud computing model would be considered something like DropBox or Google Drive.

In simple terms, SaaS eliminates the need to install and run software on individual computers. Instead, it’s managed and deployed by a SaaS provider, and it can be accessed with an internet connection and from any connected device.

SaaS promotes mobility and is typically delivered on a month-to-month (or subscription-based) model. Most businesses rely on some form of SaaS for their email, CRM, or productivity platform.

PaaS

PaaS (Platform as a Service) provides a platform for software or business applications to be developed and deployed on.

Much like IaaS, PaaS allows you to pull resources as you need them, but it is your responsibility as the end user to develop, deploy, and customize business applications. In this particular model, you’re managing the applications and data, and your provider manages everything else — so less responsibility than IaaS but more responsibility than SaaS.

PaaS is ideal for developers. It speeds up the development and deployment process of applications and allows many users to access applications at the same time.  

 

If you’d like to learn more about cloud computing models, take a look at the 2 biggest differences between public and private clouds.