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SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS: What’s the Difference and How to Choose

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS: What’s the Difference and How to Choose

Distinguishing Between Software and Platform and Infrastructure

Understanding the basics of IaaS vs PaaS and Saas vs PaaS has become a crucial aspect of understanding for businesses that leverage cloud-based services. While it may seem confusing at first, the differences between the three are rather clear cut. By reading this guide, you will learn how to make an informed decision over which model of service is the right one for implementation when it comes to serving the needs of your organization.   

There are usually three models of cloud service to compare: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Each of these has its own benefits as well as variances, and it is necessary to understand the differences among SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS to know how to choose the best one to suit the unique needs of your organization.

SaaS: Software as a Service

Software as a service, or SaaS, is a model of software delivery and licensing by which organizations purchase on-demand access to software that is centrally hosted and maintained by the licensor. Initially pioneered by Microsoft and other companies under the moniker “software plus services,” SaaS is typically delivered using a “thin client” through the customer’s web browser.

Contemporarily, SaaS is an increasingly common method of delivery for office software, payroll processing software, business development tools (which include highly functional items such as customer relationship management (CRM) software), accounting software, and software serving a wide variety of other business and administrative needs.

Because of the direct economic advantages to businesses (cost reductions surrounding software ownership management, installation, and upgrading being chief among them), the overwhelming majority of software companies offer SaaS.

PaaS: Platform as a Service

At their essence, SaaS and PaaS are both cloud computing services. Basically speaking, the difference between SaaS vs PaaS is that with PaaS, the software company or licensor provides the client company or organization with a platform. This platform allows the client to develop, manage, and utilize applications of their own without the need for creating and maintaining all of the necessary background software associated with its development and support.  

One of the primary differences of Saas vs PaaS is the amount of direct management of the software that is left in the hands of the platform licensor. This frees up the client to spend their time working on their products directly, rather than managing the supporting software. PaaS is primarily delivered either through the cloud, as a private service, or as software that can be deployed internally. Prime examples of PaaS providers include Cloud Foundry, Red Hat’s OpenShift, and Windows Azure.

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a service represents a complete solution to a given company’s computing needs, and may replace everything from network security to data storage and partitioning, and even a client’s physical computing infrastructure. Built on a model that uses a “hypervisor” to power virtual computers and the applications they run on, IaaS typically relies on the use of cloud orchestration software to organize a customer’s data migration, storage, and computing applications.

Examples of IaaS providers include Amazon AWS, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, and Google Compute Engine, but there are numerous others in the market. One of the primary differences of IaaS vs PaaS is the near comprehensive nature of IaaS as a computing solution. IaaS is typically delivered in similar fashion as PaaS.

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

Ultimately, your organization’s specific needs should dictate which level of service you select. For many companies and organizations, a simple SaaS product may suffice, while on the other hand, for developers and clients creating and implementing their own applications, a PaaS solution may be the ideal solution. For other clients, a complete computing infrastructure service is the best solution for their needs.     

For more on how a SaaS tool like Samanage can simplify service management, download our white paper: The Starting Line of Service Management.

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