If you’ve spent any time in the world of tech, cloud, and startups, you’ve likely run into many of the “as a Service” acronyms. These days, just about anything can be offered “as a Service.” Even “Anything as a Service” has its own acronym: XaaS.
The three main categories of cloud computing are SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS. Despite their similarities, they each serve a distinct purpose.
What is SaaS?
SaaS stands for “Software as a Service.” It has also been used as a stand-in for “Security as a Service” and “Storage as a Service,” but it most commonly refers to software. The best way to tell the difference is to look at the context in which it’s being used.
Software as a Service is any instance where a third-party provider hosts application software on their own server and distributes it to customers over the internet. Many CRMs, like Salesforce, are built on a SaaS model. SaaS makes it so customers have no need to download and install software onto their own computers. They simply log in online and get to work.
SaaS is one of the most widespread and lucrative forms of cloud computing. The worldwide SaaS market is expected to reach $113.1 billion by 2021.
The SaaS model provides numerous benefits for both the provider and the customer. Software updates are automatic and global. Any data generated by the software, such as contact information, can be stored remotely within the software provider’s secure infrastructure. Meanwhile, the provider can charge the customer via a contract or subscription model, or based on data usage.
What is IaaS?
IaaS stands for “Infrastructure as a Service.” This is a service in which computing power is provided to a customer virtually over the internet. It is distinct from data center colocation, in which an organization’s owned server is stored and maintained in a provider’s data center.
In this model, the cloud provider hosts their own infrastructure components, such as storage and networking hardware, at their own data centers and allows their customer to access them remotely when they need computing power. If you browse our offerings on our cloud marketplace, you’ll see a number of server offerings of this type available.
IaaS presents a number of benefits to organizations who want to avoid building their own costly data centers but need access to additional computing power. IaaS vendors provide customers with security, cloud monitoring, backup and recovery services, as well as other efficiency services.
What is PaaS?
PaaS stands for “Platform as a Service.” PaaS is primarily used in the development of new applications. When an organization needs a platform to run and develop an application, they rely on a cloud provider instead of installing their own hardware and software.
PaaS is usually supplemental to a business's overall IT infrastructure. It allows an organization to access a platform for running and testing software without having to worry about infrastructure maintenance and development.
Which Cloud Service Does Your Organization Need?
Depending on what your organization does, you may need all three categories of cloud computing, or a hybrid model to work alongside your own internal IT infrastructure.
By 2021, 75% of cloud workloads will be SaaS-based, 16% will be IaaS-based, and just 9% will be PaaS-based.
SaaS typically involves proprietary software. In all likelihood, you’re already dependent upon this model in some form at your organization. Customers don’t particularly like having to install software on several different computers, which is why more and more software developers are moving toward a SaaS model.
If you’re a software developer, you could greatly benefit from the PaaS model. But if you are more interested in replacing a legacy IT system or accessing vast amounts of computing power, IaaS is what you’re looking for.
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