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If you’re running a startup, which type of software is the best option, IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS? In this article, we’ll look at the differences between the three and whether IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS is best if you need a cloud computing service for your business.

When you operate a business, cloud computing is a great way to drive things forward. Delivering services over the internet, cloud computing means you can work from anywhere in the world, stay efficient and scale as your business grows.

In fact, 94% of enterprises use at least one cloud service.

However, which type of cloud computing is best for your business? There are three main services that are available:

  1. IaaS
  2. PaaS
  3. SaaS

It might be that you’ve heard of SaaS, but the other two options are entirely new to you.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences and similarities between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS in cloud computing, and which is the right option for your business. But first, let’s learn more about each type of computing solution and its benefits.

Infrastructure as a Service: IaaS

IaaS is all about renting on-demand virtual machines and infrastructure servers that you can use to grow your business. While the provider maintains and updates the data center, you have flexibility over everything else.

Think of IaaS as renting a house, while using an in-house solution is like owning your home outright. With IaaS, you pay a monthly rental fee and if something goes wrong, the provider is responsible for putting it right.

You can use IaaS to build and manage services, operating systems, networks, and data storage without buying hardware.

Examples of IaaS software include:

Platform as a Service: PaaS

PaaS provides a platform you can use to develop, create, and launch your own cloud-based solutions and apps. The provider supplies the infrastructure and the tools you need, but you create the software.

You can use PaaS to create SaaS software, including mobile apps!

Examples of PaaS software include:

Software as a Service: SaaS (sometimes called cloud application services)

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is the solution we find most people are familiar with, just as they use these technologies in their day-to-day lives. We’ve also discussed on our blog how to develop SaaS marketplace software and SaaS applications.

SaaS is when a third-party service provider delivers software and applications through their own servers and infrastructure. Users then pay to access the software.

Think of SaaS as fast food, while IaaS is like cooking a meal from scratch. While fast food is tasty, affordable, and fills you up, you don’t get a lot of say over what is available. Conversely, when you cook a meal from scratch, you can customize it to your specific needs and make sure it tastes great!

SaaS is currently the most popular way of delivering cloud computing, with 38.6% of the market share. IaaS has 22.3 % of the market, while PaaS has 19.8%. However, we predict that PaaS and IaaS will increase their market share in the future as businesses look for more bespoke options.

Examples of SaaS software include:

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: compare and contrast

Still not sure what the difference between the three cloud-based solutions is? Here’s some more information that will explain things in more detail.

Who the key users are

The key users of IaaS systems are network architects and IT administrators — the people who are responsible for administering and maintaining the platform.

Users of PaaS systems are software developers — the people who develop the code created on these platforms.

The key users of SaaS systems are end-users — the people who log into and make use of the platforms.

What key users manage vs what the service provider manages

On IaaS, the key users manage applications, data, runtime, middleware, and O/S while the service provider manages virtualization, servers, storage, and networking.

The key users manage applications and data while the service provider manages runtime, middleware, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking on PaaS.

On SaaS, the key users manage nothing while the service provider manages runtime, middleware, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking.

The skill level needed to run the platform vs the level of control

Generally, as the skill level required increases, so does the level of control over the platform.

For IaaS, key users need to be skilled in running a virtual machine and infrastructure. However, in return, they get a high degree of control.

For PaaS, key users need to be able to use programming code. In return, they get a moderate degree of control on the platform, although not as much as companies running IaaS.

SaaS platforms have been created to be as easy to use as possible, with plenty of support and online tutorials for customers. However, the degree of control is low compared to IaaS and PaaS solutions.

The pros and cons of each platform

The advantage of IaaS is that it’s completely customizable, easy to scale, and means you’re in complete control of your infrastructure. The disadvantage is that you’re responsible for configuring it and ensuring it’s secure.

The advantage of PaaS is that it’s easy to use and, as it’s in the cloud, it makes it easy to collaborate with other developers. The disadvantage is that you have no control over the infrastructure and are bound by the PaaS terms of service.

The advantage of SaaS is that there is a wide range of different solutions available — whether you’re looking for a CRM or payroll software, there’s something to suit your needs. You also don’t need to worry about updating or keeping the software secure, as the SaaS provider does all the hard work for you. The disadvantage is that you have the least control of all the platforms. If the provider pivots, goes out of business, or increases its prices, then there’s nothing you can do,

Who the solutions are ideal for

IaaS is ideal for businesses that need a virtual machine to run programs and deploy apps.

PaaS is ideal for businesses that need a platform for building software and apps.

SaaS is ideal for businesses that need ready-made software to handle their needs easily and efficiently.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: which is the right option for my startup?

It ultimately depends on the type of business you run and the level of management you need. Let’s look at the options available in a little more detail.

IaaS vs PaaS

With IaaS, you completely run and own the system. You’re responsible for making sure data is handled correctly and that it is secure.

With PaaS, while the code you create and the data you upload are your responsibility, everything else is managed by the provider. You can build apps for example, without having to host them yourself.

PaaS vs SaaS

The main difference between PaaS and SaaS is the level of management you have on the platform.

SaaS products are completely handled by another company, while with PaaS, you have more control over the platform. If you’re happy with a product that is offered by a SaaS vendor, this approach will save you time in the long term. However, if you want to create a bespoke app tailored to your specific business needs, then PaaS might be the way forward.

SaaS vs IaaS

SaaS is an out-of-the-box solution. This means you pay for it, and it’s more or less ready to start using, with minimal configuration. With IaaS, you need to manage and configure it yourself, although the provider is still responsible for servers, storage, networking, and virtualization.

However, with IaaS, you get more control. With SaaS, if the provider makes changes (for example, restricting the functionality or limiting your usage), you’ll be impacted. With IaaS, though you may still be affected, you won’t be to the same degree as with SaaS.

Cloud computing vs on-site solutions

Whichever option you choose, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS all provide modern alternatives to the more traditional on-site solutions. You have to manage on-site solutions yourself and constantly check to make sure they reflect your changing needs.

With cloud solutions like IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, you can save valuable time and resources, as well as scale up or down as needed.

In summary: choose the right solution for your business needs

IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS solutions are great ways to help your startup scale and move forward. However, it’s important to do your research and see which one is right for your unique requirements.

What type of service do you need, what do you need to be able to manage, and what level of control will help you manage your startup most efficiently?

Let’s summarise:

IaaS

IaaS is great for businesses that want complete control over their internal architecture and want to customize it to their specific liking.

PaaS

PaaS is the ideal solution if you want to create applications or software. The supplier manages the system, meaning all you need to be concerned about is the data and code you develop. Plus, as it’s in the cloud, multiple developers can work on projects at any one time.

SaaS

SaaS may be the better choice for small businesses or startups that need to launch quickly or need software on a short-term or infrequent basis. Many companies start using SaaS platforms and move to a more bespoke IaaS or PaaS solution as they grow and develop.

Take the time, do your research, and see whether SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, or a combination of all three, will be of benefit to your business. Some companies are now even referring to XaaS, or everything/anything as a service when referring to all three solutions used together!

p.s Want to know more about establishing your business and getting to market? These articles from our blog will help get you on the right track. And remember, if you need extra support, we’re always here to help.

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