Technologies | July 21, 2023

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS – How to Combine all 3 to Turbocharge Your Business

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are common acronyms you’ll see across the web – but what do they really mean, and how can they enable your business to thrive? Read the article!

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

As businesses become increasingly reliant on technology, there’s a worldwide shift from on-premises servers to cloud computing infrastructure. And while the market has adapted to offer a wide range of service-based technology models, it can be confusing to understand how the software, infrastructure, and platform jigsaw fits together.

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are common acronyms you’ll see across the web – but what do they really mean, and how can they enable your business to thrive? 

In this article, we’ll help you answer both questions by diving deep into the SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS comparison debate. Specifically, we’ll look at what each of them is, the capabilities and benefits they can deliver your business, and share how technology partners such as Inetum can help you take advantage of the cloud computing model. 

Let’s get started!

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS Explained & Key Differences

When working to define your technology ecosystem, the first thing you’ll need to do is understand how all of the different cloud service models fit together. With on-premises solutions popular for many years, there are now many different cloud computing services (sometimes, just known as Cloud) out there to take advantage of. 

As we walk through SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, it’s important to remember that many businesses build their wider business operating systems through a combination of all three, enabling them to leverage the collective benefits of each one!

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

Let’s take a look at each in turn. 

SaaS – Software as a Service

SaaS applications are cloud-hosted, ready-to-use applications that each deliver a particular use case or capability for a business. 

There’s a good chance you’re already using a SaaS solution in your business or personal life, with applications such as Salesforce, DropBox, and Slack all household names. 

In most instances, SaaS provides everything under one monthly or annual cost and is delivered through a web browser or mobile application. That means the vendor manages all of the infrastructure required to deliver the SaaS app (e.g., servers, storage, networking, security), making it a simple solution for businesses to adopt. 

With the SaaS model, the vendor will also manage maintenance, upgrades, and patching, and provide a service level agreement (SLA) as part of the contract to give you some certainty around uptime, service levels, and application support. 

In a nutshell – The best way to think of a SaaS solution is that it’s an all-in-one package for a particular business capability or software use case. SaaS applications run all the infrastructure, platforming, and software, so it’s an easy ‘off the shelf’ solution.

Read also: Qlik Sense SaaS. Cloud Analytics for enterprises

PaaS – Platform as a Service

A PaaS solution is a cloud-based platform for developing, running, managing, and storing applications. Organizations use PaaS as a single solution for capabilities such as runtimes (for development, testing, and deployment), operating system (OS) software, storage (file storage, blob storage, databases) networking, and development tools. 

As the name suggests, organizations then use this as a platform to develop, host, and maintain the software applications they use to run their business. Typically, these are bespoke software packages rather than the ‘off the shelf‘ ones we previously saw in the SaaS world.  

DevOps and software developers use PaaS platforms through a user interface, providing an easy way to manage the entire application lifecycle, including initial development, deployment, production, and end-of-life.

The costs and service models work similarly between SaaS and PaaS, only this time, the organization will be responsible for their own data and cloud applications, so the vendor has less overall responsibility. 

PaaS platforms are less well known to those outside the technology world. Still, you may have previously heard of the Google App Engine, Microsoft Windows Azure, or IBM Cloud as popular PaaS providers.

In a nutshell – A PaaS solution delivers a platform for you to manage your own software applications by providing all of the services you need to develop, deploy, and manage your own code.

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service

It’s at the infrastructure level where the hardware and software really start to separate. IaaS provides organizations with cloud-hosted infrastructure, such as servers, storage, and networking. From here, users can emulate much of what they would with on-premises services, while still benefiting from the capabilities of cloud.

Businesses can choose between virtual infrastructure on a shared physical server or go for a full solution by having their own unshared physical hardware. Either way, their infrastructure team can still access their hardware over the internet via dashboards or through technical integrations. 

Unlike PaaS, IaaS solutions do not include any operating system, middleware, or development technologies as standard, instead giving the organization complete control to install whatever they choose. This again means the organization becomes responsible for more areas of the technology stack, but often comes with a smaller monthly or yearly cost from the vendor. 

Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are the big IaaS names to look out for, but as you’ll see later on, there’s a lot of crossover between what IaaS delivers and typical PaaS solutions.

In a nutshell – IaaS offers the raw infrastructure to enable you, as an organization, to build out the technology ecosystem you need. While the IaaS model isn’t a new one, it’s one of the most popular for organizations that need to scale quickly without large physical overheads.

So, as you can see, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS all provide the freedom to outsource or retain as much or as little of your border IT ecosystem as you need. In reality, most businesses operate a blended model, using IaaS and PaaS clients to control their core infrastructure while leaning on a SaaS provider for more bespoke or specialist software needs. 

30 of the Best SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS Providers

While we’ve covered a few of them in the previous section, let’s take a look at some of the largest cloud service providers on the market. 

Top 10 Examples of SaaS

  1. Atlassian – Workflow management
  2. GitHub – Software development repository
  3. Figma – Interface design
  4. Slack – Business messaging app
  5. Zoom – Communications platform
  6. Xero – Accounting software
  7. Mailchimp – Marketing and email automation
  8. 1Password – Digital vault
  9. Miro – Collaboration workspace
  10. ChatGPT – AI chatbot.

Top 10 Examples of PaaS (cloud providers)

  1. Microsoft Azure – Deployment and development environments
  2. SAP Cloud – SAP development platform
  3. Oracle Cloud Platform – The foundation for Oracle applications
  4. Heroku – Deployment and development environments
  5. AWS – Range of platform services
  6. Google App Engine – Google-enabled ecosystem
  7. Kinsta – Managed WordPress hosting
  8. Dokku – Open source container technology
  9. Salesforce Lightening – Eco-system for Salesforce development
  10. IBM Cloud Foundry – Open source cloud service model

Top 10 Examples of IaaS (cloud providers)

  1. Microsoft Azure – Diverse cloud offering
  2. AWS – Diverse and flexible IaaS clients
  3. Google Cloud Platform – Google-backed Infrastructure
  4. DigitalOcean – On-demand IaaS
  5. Lineode – Cheap & reliable hosting
  6. Vultr – High-speed, worldwide offering
  7. IBM Cloud – Dependable, scalable infrastructure
  8. RackSpace – Complex hosting solutions
  9. Alibaba Cloud – Cloud full-service offering
  10. Synology – High-speed VM’s

The Business Benefits of SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS Cloud Computing Technologies

So, you now know all about SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS solutions, but what’s the upside of moving your business to the cloud? After all, a fundamental change to your operating model will require a big investment of time, money, and effort, so it needs to be worth it.

 Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits you can achieve through a cloud computing model. 

The Benefits of SaaS

Firstly, let’s look at the benefits of a Software as a Service model for your software needs. 

  1. Easy access to bespoke software. The biggest benefit of SaaS is the fast access to bespoke software. You no longer need to install large programs or develop a use case from scratch. Most SaaS applications run directly in the browser, meaning you can sign up and use them immediately. 
  2. Low risk. With easy access also comes low risk, as most SaaS products offer a free trial period and low monthly costs that enable you to pilot something incredibly fast. If it’s not working for you, the terms of cloud providers simply allow you to end your trial or cancel your subscription whenever you like – no questions asked. 
  3. Improved uptime. SaaS helps you stay online for longer thanks to the scalable architecture it’s built on and the built-in redundancy of Cloud technology vs on-premises servers. This means you’ll improve your uptime, whether from a traditional laptop/PC or mobile applications and tablets. 
  4. Scale up and down. The easy access, low risk, and high uptime make scaling up and down a SaaS service easy. The ability to increase and decrease your number of licenses as your business needs change entices businesses across the world to use SaaS for many of their software needs.

“Which cloud model (SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS) to choose”? There is no definitive answer to that question. It all depends on the specific case. SaaS, especially in the subscription model, allows you to respond faster to changes related to the development of an organization (acquisition or organic growth), as well as those related to its segmentation aimed at optimizing costs of elemental tools (e.g., Microsoft 365) by matching the number of licenses to the current staff composition.

Marek Dobkowski, Cloud Practice Leader at Inetum

The Benefits of PaaS

Next, let’s take a look at what PaaS deliver versus a traditional on-premises platform solution. 

  • Less management overhead. PaaS solutions pass administration and workload to the vendor in areas such as patching, updates, and security, meaning fewer overheads for you. Less overheads also reduce the accountability and risk for you as a business. 
  • Scalability. Gone are the days of new hardware installs and long configuration windows, as the PaaS model allows you to turn on new applications as you need. A PaaS product like Google App Engine is an excellent example of this, giving you the ability to scale up new testing, development, and production services with the click of a button. 
  • Easy to adopt new technologies: PaaS provides a platform for businesses to quickly adopt new software technologies without a significant investment. Similar to SaaS, the commercial delivery model of PaaS gives organizations the ability to trial new functionalities without having to make substantial investments in time, cost, or effort. 

PaaS offers faster “go-to-market” (minutes vs. days), better scalability (both up and down with no downtimes), and billing based on factual usage – often depending on the number of queries made or disk space taken up.

Marek Dobkowski, Cloud Practice Leader at Inetum

The Benefits of IaaS

Lastly, let’s look at how IaaS delivers cloud computing infrastructure that’s superior to the traditional on-premises model. 

  • Higher availability: The key benefit of IaaS vs on-premises infrastructure is the increased service availability. This is because IaaS allows you to easily create redundant servers across different geographies, protecting you from disaster events such as power outages, floods, and heat waves. 
  • Faster speeds for everyone: Because IaaS providers typically operate through a public cloud model, it’s easier and faster for everyone to connect. That drives benefit to you as an organization but also to your business customers when they interact with your infrastructure.
  • Improved responsiveness: With an IaaS product, you can provision new capabilities almost instantly, allowing you to bring new services online and test new initiatives quickly. Despite the outsourcing, this still gives IaaS clients complete control over their infrastructure, should you take configuration and management into your own hands. 
  • Enhanced security: IaaS tools typically come with various technical and physical security measures to keep your business data safe and secure. Whether it’s encryption, on-site security, or vendor cyber security teams, there’s a high chance an IaaS service is more secure than your current on-premises solution.
  • Complete scalability: Like with PaaS, the scalability of IaaS solutions is another key benefit. IaaS gives you the power to simply run up new servers, networking, or storage capabilities with the click of a button – no need to install new hardware and integrate your network. 
  • Cost-effective management: One of the key reasons for an increase in IaaS and PaaS solutions is that they’re simply more cost-effective. By outsourcing the service, you save money on internal resources to manage the infrastructure and pass the costs of repair and replacement onto the vendor. 

One of the key reasons for an increase in IaaS and PaaS solutions is that they’re simply more cost-effective. By outsourcing the service, you save money on internal resources to manage the infrastructure and pass the costs of repair and replacement onto the vendor. Efficiently managing these costs is crucial. Explore our comprehensive guide on Azure Cost Management to learn more about optimizing your Azure cloud expenses for even greater cost efficiency.

IaaS, in turn, means the transfer of responsibility for the physical infrastructure to the cloud provider, faster “go-to-market” (several minutes vs. several weeks), freedom in terms of the software used, and responsibility for updating the operating system. To sum up, there is no “one right model”. Deciding is also not easy. Therefore, selecting the right cloud partner is key to the success of a cloud transformation project. We can see an increasing focus on cost management in cooperation with customers. They take advantage of the below strategy more and more often.

Marek Dobkowski, Cloud Practice Leader at Inetum
IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS

How an IT Partner Can Help You Drive Your Cloud Strategy

You now know all about IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS, the benefits of cloud systems, and how they can fit together to revolutionize your business processes – but how do you actually take the next step? 

That’s where an IT partner such as Inetum can help. At Intetum, we can support you in all areas of your cloudification journey, helping you manage the constraints and challenges along the way. We are one of the few companies on the market that’s certified as a Microsoft Azure transformation partner, providing accredited expertise in:

  • Cloud migration – supporting you to migrate your existing infrastructure into the cloud, including updating existing business tools or creating completely new IT solutions. 
  • Cloud expansion – helping you identify ways to further leverage cloud usage and exploit new opportunities to create business value. 
  • Cloud-native app development – leveraging our nearshore development capability to enhance your application capability with expertise across all major software languages, technologies, and architectural patterns.
SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

If you’re ready to take the first steps on your cloud journey, why not find out more by visiting our Go To Azure Cloud Transformation page? Here you’ll find more details on the services we provide to customers across the globe. 

It’s time to migrate to a cloud service model

With much of the world becoming increasingly digital, cloud computing enables businesses everywhere to deliver low-cost, highly scalable IT solutions. Whether it’s SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, or a mix of all three, there are so many benefits to be had from the cloud computing model, with on-demand software and platform services enabling businesses to move with pace while minimizing their risk. 

At Inetum, we’re market leaders in helping organizations migrate to the cloud thanks to our consultative approach, industry expertise, and mix of onshore and near-shore resourcing capabilities. Cloud computing lies at the heart of modern business operations, and when the time is right, we’re here to help you take advantage!

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