Today, most businesses are switching over to the cloud for infrastructure and application deployment; it is important that you know the differences between the different cloud services, and the advantage offered by each. There are basically three types of cloud services – Software as a Service or SaaS, Platform as a Service or PaaS, and Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS.
SaaS: Software as a Service
SaaS is also known as cloud application services, and it’s the most popular option for businesses. This model leverages the internet to deliver applications to users, and the entire thing is managed by third-party vendors. Most SaaS apps run directly through the web browser without necessitating a download or installation by the client.
The delivery model eliminated the requirement of installations on individual computers, making the job of the IT department easier. All technical issues like storage, servers, data and middleware are handled by vendors – and businesses only have to streamline their support and maintenance.
The biggest advantage provided by SaaS is that it reduces the expenditure and time spent on installation and management of the software, freeing up time of the IT staff. These resources can be diverted to critical or more urgent problems in the organization.
- Centrally located and managed
- Remote server hosting
- Accessible through the internet
- Hardware and software updates are not the user’s responsibility
When to Use SaaS
SaaS is great when:
- You are a startup or small company and need to get your ecommerce rolling quickly, without time for elaborate software or servers, installations etc.
- You use apps like tax software, that are used intermittently only
- You need to collaborate on projects for a short period
Examples of SaaS
Google Apps, Dropbox, IPIX ERP, Salesforce, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Concur
PaaS: Platform as a Service
PaaS or Cloud platform services deliver certain components of the cloud to specific software while it is chiefly used for applications. PaaS provides a framework for developers to build on, and for creating custom apps. Either the organization or a third party vendor can manage the network, servers, and storage, while developers perform maintenance of applications.
This delivery model is pretty much like that of SaaS, only, PaaS offers a platform for software development instead of delivering the software through the internet. The platform itself is delivered through the web, enabling developers to focus on creating the software without needless worry over software updates, OS, infrastructure, storage.
Businesses are able to design and develop apps built into the PaaS with special components; as these apps get some characteristics of the cloud, they are highly scalable and available.
Regardless of the size of your company, the PaaS model offers several benefits like making the creation and deployment of applications easy and reducing the expenditure involved. Other advantages include:
- High availability
- Enabling developers to focus on the creation of custom applications without the responsibility of software maintenance
- Reduced coding time
- Automated business policy
- Enables easy migration to a hybrid model
- Easy scalability (up or down) of resources to meet business demands thanks to it being built on virtualization technology
- Offers several services to help in developing, testing and deploying the applications
- The same development app can be accessed by several users
- Integrated databases and web services
When to Use PaaS
When there are numerous developers working on the same project, or there is a need to include vendors, you can achieve greater speed and flexibility for the entire process with PaaS. IT also lets you create your custom applications. PaaS can help cut down expenses and ease challenges faced during rapid development or deployment of apps.
Examples of PaaS
Windows Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, Google App Engine, Force.com, OpenShift, Apache Stratos.
IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
IaaS or cloud infrastructure services comprise automated computing and extremely scalable resources. It is 100% self-service for the purpose of access and monitoring of services like storage, networking, computing, and so on. Businesses can purchases resources as they need, rather than buying it all outright – this gives businesses more autonomy and flexibility.
IaaS leverages virtualization technology for delivering cloud computing infrastructure like networks, OS, servers, storage etc. The cloud servers are accessed by the client via an API or dashboard, and IaaS clients get full control over the infrastructure. You get the same the same capabilities and technologies as in a conventional data center without actually maintaining or even managing the entire thing. IaaS clients are able to access the storage and servers directly; this is outsourced to a virtual data center in the cloud.
IaaS clients have to manage their OS, data, middleware, run time and apps, and IaaS providers manage visualization, storage, networking, servers, and hard drives.
- Offers great flexibility of all cloud computing models
- Highly scalable as per business requirements
- Enables easy automation of deploying networking, processing power, servers & storage
- Flexibility to purchase only need-based hardware and other resources
- Clients retain complete infrastructure control
- Cost depends on the consumption
- Scalable services
- Resources are made available as a service
- Multiple users can be included on a single unit of hardware
- Organizations retain full control of infrastructure
- Flexible and dynamic
When to Use IaaS
IaaS is the ideal option when your budget is tight, and don’t have the time and resources for creating hardware and software. It is also advantageous for big businesses who want to retain complete control over their infrastructure and apps and only want to buy what is absolutely required. It is also a good option for companies experiencing fast growth since you don’t have a commitment to any resource, and your needs are likely to keep changing.
Examples of IaaS
Amazon Web Services (AWS), DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE).
SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS
Each model has specific features and unique functionalities and benefits. Your organization needs to thoroughly understand the differences, and match it to your specific requirements. In any case, migrating to the cloud is a matter of time – so it would do well to be aware of all the facts pertaining to cloud services.
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