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What is IaaS, SaaS and PaaS? A Simple Guide!

By Ria Manzanero


May 25, 2023

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service) are three terms regularly thrown around in the world of cloud computing that can be misunderstood.

As cloud enthusiasts, we’re here to share the details on each of these categories of cloud computing services and help you understand their benefits!

Read on to discover what IaaS, SaaS and PaaS mean, how they work and how businesses, like yours, leverage them to keep one step ahead of competition.

cloud computing

What is IaaS and how does it work?

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is a form of cloud computing centered around making compute, storage and networking available on-demand. IaaS is best described as a collection of virtualised resources that allow users to build and run the applications they need the most. In short, you can replace all physical elements in your IT infrastructure with virtual ones, hosted in the cloud.

A common problem for businesses is that they face high, up-front expenditures on their IT infrastructure. Especially when experiencing growth, or a shift in workloads. IaaS permits end-users to scale or reduce their technology resources on-demand and pay-as-they-go, thus, allowing them to manage their IT costs better.

A great example of an IaaS that does it all is Microsoft Azure. Azure is among the fastest growing and largest public cloud platforms in the world, particularly as more and more businesses want to embrace modern workstyles.

What are the advantages of IaaS?

There are lots of advantages to using IaaS, but here are a few key benefits:

  • Reduction in physical hardware = Say goodbye to clunky, unreliable servers and hello to high-performance virtualised architecture, designed to keep your workloads optimised and secure.
  • Easy billing = Better manage your business outgoings with controlled costs, often billed monthly to allow for spikes in your business activities.
  • Pay for what you use = IaaS services are commonly structured to allow end-users to be charged only for what they use, optimising budgets by not paying for excess capacity .
  • Efficient access = IaaS allows users to access a variety of technology resources quickly and without difficulty, from anywhere in the world.
  • Scale on demand = With limitless capacity, businesses can automatically (or with some assistance from an IT partner) scale their application or workloads as needed.
  • Enhanced security = IaaS removes the need to upgrade or troubleshoot hardware. Depending on the service provider, infrastructure is managed to be stable, reliable and supported by robust security measures.

man working flexibly

What is SaaS and how does it work? 

SaaS (Software as a Service) allows users to use cloud-based applications over the internet. This means they don’t have to be hosted on your own infrastructure, they can be quickly and easily accessed using a web browser.

Some common examples of SaaS may include Outlook (email service), HubSpot (CRM/CMS) or Asana (project management tool).

Similar to IaaS, SaaS can usually be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis from the cloud provider. This cloud service provider then takes responsibility for managing, maintaining, updating and optimising all underlying infrastructure as well as the software delivering the service. Depending on the details of your service agreement, any data belonging to end-users should be indefinitely available and secured by the app.

What are the advantages of SaaS?

There are lots of advantages to using SaaS, but here are a few key benefits:

  • Seamless access = Using SaaS apps means that your business will have access to the tools they need, potentially integrated easily with other software solutions you may use
  • Affordable options = As the demand for SaaS applications has grown, so have the options available to users. Whatever your need, no doubt there will be various choices, with competitive pricing available.
  • Scalability = SaaS platforms are often setup to offer users alternative pricing models, shaped around their needs. This means you can start with a basic package and upgrade as your business grows.
  • Supporting flexibility = As with all things cloud-hosted, SaaS offers your workforce flexibility, as they can access the information they need, regardless of device or location.
  • Minimal deployment = Most SaaS platforms allow comprehensive access and usability from a web browser, meaning businesses don’t have to deploy or manage software themselves.

Working on hubspot

What is PaaS and how does it work?

PaaS (Platform as a Service) refers to the development and delivery of hardware and software tools over the internet, usually with the intention of supporting application development. Developers can purchase the resources they need from a PaaS third-party provider and access them over a secure internet connection and use them for building, testing, deploying, managing and updating an environment.

In short, rather than developers having to code everything from scratch, they can access pre-built blocks and customised solutions that support the rapid and efficient build of apps. A common example of a PaaS is Microsoft’s Azure SQL Database, which provides a range of services geared towards supporting database services, running on Microsoft technologies.

What are the advantages of PaaS?

There are lots of advantages to using PaaS, but here are a few key benefits:

  • Reduce coding time = PaaS tools enable developers to code new apps with secure and optimised components, available within the platform, allowing efficient building.
  • More development capabilities = Instead of hiring more members of your development team, PaaS allows users to reap the benefits of different components on-demand, designed using skills that would otherwise require a specialist.
  • Development lifecycle = PaaS allows all parts of the development lifecycle to come together in one place: building, testing, deploying managing and updating from the same environment.
  • Global collaboration = You can benefit from skilled developers, scattered across the globe, as PaaS allows for teams to collaborate from remote locations.

developer computer

Which do I need? IaaS, SaaS or PaaS?

The truth is, your business could benefit from utilising IaaS, SaaS and PaaS! However, what you will need will depend on your unique business requirements.

As cloud experts, Virtuoso has experience across all three of these cloud services and can help your workforce gain value from them all!

Whether you’re already working from the cloud, or if you’re just beginning your cloud journey, we can support you and answer any questions.

Get in touch today and one of our friendly cloud consultants can talk you through the ways these cloud services could help your business reach its goals!