How To Choose Cloud Hosting For Ecommerce: SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

Dan Fedirko
Jun 21 · 5 min read

Cloud hosting is on the hype now for several reasons: faster website speed and performance, high uptime and availability, very easy to scale server resources, redundant server environment, flexible pricing system.

Every ecommerce owner is thinking about moving to the cloud as more than half of the companies are already there. But there also are few abbreviations that can create confusion. Let’s discover what SaaS, PaaS, IaaS is and how ecommerce can benefit each of these cloud models.

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What Is SaaS, PaaS, IaaS?

  • SaaS — Software as a Service — for example, Gmail or other cloud applications; the client uses the application, the basic settings of the application are managed by the provider.
  • PaaS — Platform as a Service — the client controls the applications, the operating system is controlled by the provider;
  • IaaS — Infrastructure as a Service, for example, virtual servers and virtual network; the client can install any operating system, software, and applications;
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In a nutshell, any of the above services is designed to remove a certain part of the time and financial costs of deploying and supporting your ecommerce website. The whole difference is what part of the concerns you will keep for yourself, and which part you will give to the management of the cloud hosting provider.

Cloud hosting is one of the things that speed up your website. Download this free Ecommerce Speed Optimization Guide to learn other methods to increase performance of your ecommerce website.

SaaS In Ecommerce

In the context of website hosting, SaaS is a completely ready-to-go platform. You don’t have to deploy and support the code of your website. The only thing you are responsible for — the content and visual look of your online store.

The best example of the SaaS in ecommerce is Shopify. With Shopify, the only thing you have to do to have your website online is to pay a subscription. Everything else is on the Shopify team.

You have access to the products, analytics, additional apps, themes, and other management features, but doesn’t bother yourself with deployment and maintenance of the code and servers.

Bigcommerce is another SaaS platform that handles coding, hosting and updating parts for the monthly fee.

You should consider using SaaS if:

  • You want to test your business idea and aren’t ready to invest huge sums into hosting
  • You want to have your website up and running quickly
  • You want to play short-term or seasonal game

PaaS In Ecommerce

PaaS is something between typical shared-hosting and SaaS.

As part of this ecommerce cloud hosting model, you do not need to administer the operating system and system software. You are provided with a platform, on which you can set up your own ecommerce website. With PaaS, you are able to upload the content, custom code and manage databases. But you will be separated from the server administration: both its hardware and software.

The best example of PaaS in ecommerce is Magento Commerce Cloud. With that solution, you are provided with hosting, but still can edit the source code of the store and develop your custom applications for Magento.

Apart from that, you can use other popular PaaS providers: Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Google App Engine.

PaaS is beneficial or even necessary if:

  • You use self-hosted CMS or custom developed website.
  • You need to have access to the code of your ecommerce website
  • You want to install additional apps or software

IaaS In Ecommerce

When renting a virtual infrastructure from an IaaS provider for your ecommerce website, you can use IaaS services of various sizes: a virtual server (VPS / VDS) and a virtual network.

In the first case, you rent a single virtual server, in the second — a pool of virtual servers with the possibility of connecting them into a virtual network.

You get full administrative rights inside leased virtual servers. All the operating system settings of these servers you need to do on your own: install the software, configure the firewall, etc. Of course, the support service of the IaaS provider can answer your questions if you’ll face difficulties. Some vendors can even do some set up work for you, for a fee.

Initially, the IaaS provider only ensures that your server will be accessible over the network in accordance with the service level agreement (SLA).

The main tasks of the IaaS provider are installation and maintenance of equipment and basic infrastructure software. The hardware on which the virtual infrastructure is built is located in specialized data processing centers (DPCs). These centers provide redundancy of communication channels, protection from power outages and much more. As a result, everything that is directly related to the uptime and availability of equipment will no longer bother you.

Just as with SaaS and PaaS, there are cases when you better use IaaS:

  • This cloud hosting model is most suitable for big online stores or marketplaces, where owners want to have complete control over their business and website.
  • It is also good for growing companies, that don’t know how fast they’ll scale. IaaS helps to scale server resources up and down instantly on demand.

Most of the hosting companies provide VPS nowadays, but there also are specialized cloud hosting providers.

We at Elligense host our clients’ ecommerce solutions in the cloud using DigitalOcean as we find it the best choice according to the convenience of usage, features, and price.

Get $50 free credit, following this link.

However, you can also take a look at Linode, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud.

How To Choose Cloud Hosting For Ecommerce

Each of the cloud models mentioned above has it’s own features and characteristics. To sum up and help you choose, let’s remind for which cases each of the models is most suitable for:

  • SaaS (software as a service): if you are small, want to start quick and don’t want to bother yourself with coding and hosting.
  • PaaS (platform as a service): if you need access to the code, storage, and databases.
  • IaaS (infrastructure as a service): if you want to control the whole infrastructure from servers’ operating system to software and runtime.

Whether you choose SaaS, PaaS or IaaS, it’s a good choice to migrate to the cloud as this is the future of the business. I hope this material has helped you understand the variety of “as a service” models and choose the right cloud hosting for your ecommerce website.

If you need help with moving your business to the cloud, fill free to contact Elligense, we can help you.

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Dan Fedirko

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