IaaS, PaaS, And SaaS: “as a Service”

September 24, 2019

You hear them all the time, something “as a service,” but what do these terms mean and how are they significant to your business? Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) are merely a few of the innumerable cloud computing offerings available today. Thoroughly understanding their unique benefits, purpose, and ways they can be used [together or independent of one other] can grant insight into optimally implementing them for business success and longevity. According to a recent Forbes study, 30% of all IT budgets were allocated to cloud computing over the past year, where 48% was spent on SaaS, 30% on IaaS and 21% on PaaS.

When reviewing the three most common cloud delivery models and drawing similarities between them, it’s probably easiest to think of them in the form of a triangle, as they predicate and build off of one another, layer on top of layer.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

At the top of the ‘triangle,’ SaaS offers a cloud solution that gives businesses the ability to deliver third-party applications via the internet. Most SaaS applications are run directly through the web and do not require any downloads or installations for you, making it readily available and accessible from any computer or any device—anytime, anywhere. It’s an ideal solution to support a growing mobile workforce. SaaS offerings are generally subscription-based services that run in the cloud and provide everything from underlying infrastructure to the application itself. All you need to do is sign up and you can use the applications; it’s that simple! The major drawback is that the application you are using may lack customization needs concerning your business. If the functionality you need is already there, it can be a great option.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

The middle layer of the triangle, PaaS, delivers platforms to develop, run, and manage your business, all conveniently stored in the cloud. PaaS removes the need to build and maintain the infrastructure to support them in-house, also eliminating the need to have in-house staff or a dedicated team member to maintain that infrastructure. It’s a cost-effective, scalable solution with great collaboration capabilities for particular development environments and applications. However, it is only useful if you are doing development of new applications.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

At the bottom of the triangle lives IaaS. Consider this the foundation of your business and all of its processes. IaaS houses all computing resources in a virtual environment so that multiple users can access important data in one centralized location; things like data storage, virtualization, servers, and networks. These are highly scalable, automated resources which are easily set up for self-serve access and monitoring if needed. Businesses can enjoy significant cost savings using this model, due to the ability to purchase required resources on-demand versus a fixed cost model structure. Other advantages over an on-premise infrastructure offer a better data center and better hardware which you may otherwise not be able to afford. Economies of scale allow you to get these benefits at a reasonable cost.

Cloud Delivery Models, Compared

Gartner reported that the SaaS market is currently the largest of the three, stating that enterprises spent $182B+ on cloud services, with SaaS services making up 43% of that spend in the past several years. SaaS is the most familiar type of cloud service including applications that are most commonly used in business: Salesforce, Google Apps, and Dropbox.

While SaaS is currently the largest cloud service in terms of spend, IaaS is projected to be the fastest-growing market with a CAGR of 20% by 2022. IaaS services are somewhat less familiar: AWS, Rackspace, and Azure lead the charge. IaaS offers scalability, flexibility, and significantly lower costs with redundant cloud storage capabilities eliminating the need to manage physical equipment on-site.

PaaS is slightly more complex and is primarily used to develop or customize applications. PaaS makes the development, testing, and deployment of applications fast, simple, and cost-effective. By 2022, 90% of enterprises who purchase public cloud IaaS will do so from an integrated IaaS and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

Any other common terms to know?

Although IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS may be the most prevalent cloud delivery models, there are countless others which also exist that are quickly gaining popularity. Desktop as a Service (DaaS), for example, is hosted on secure, dedicated, customizable and fully-isolated cloud servers housed in data centers. Individual workspaces can be accessed from these servers at any time and are delivered securely to users anywhere through the internet. A user needs only to log in to the virtual desktop portal from their connected device to access their personal hosted workspace. The workspace can be accessed anytime and mirrors access to your computer from anywhere.

Service models such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Network as a Service (NaaS) and also Communications as a Service (CaaS) exist and are gaining more exposure and prevalence among businesses large and small.

What’s right for you?

All of these cloud delivery models work together, but they can also work independently to suit the needs of your particular business model. Can’t decide on a cloud delivery model that’s right for you? Let All Covered help you achieve IT, on your terms. We can care for your operating efficiency, assess cybersecurity risks, and streamline compliance efforts to give you the freedom you need to focus on growing your business.

Ethel Klein
Sr. Marketing Manager

Ethel Klein is a Sr. Marketing Manager responsible for marketing communications for All Covered, the IT Services Division of Konica Minolta. She brings with her more than seven years of marketing experience, specifically focusing on cloud marketing strategy and technology services and solutions.