Cloud computing is now a part of everyday business and operational activities for more and more companies. The evolution of the Cloud shows the importance of the technology itself and of the new working models it empowers. If your organization is undergoing a digital transformation process and you consider switching architectures, you should know more about the different types you can choose from.

In this article, we go to the bottom of the most popular three cloud computing architecture types: (1) SaaS, (2) PaaS and (3) IaaS to help you make a more informed decision for your business.

1. Software as Service (SaaS)

SaaS handles hosting, security, server uptime and other technical processes. This solution offers a ready to go suite for applications for the client to use and launch projects immediately. The technical input is minimized, as the vendor is taking care of the entire SaaS infrastructure.

Due to the web delivery model, there is no need to install and run applications on the devices at all. It is easy to streamline maintenance and support, with the main benefit being that the provider manages applications, runtime, data, servers, storage and networking.

Key features of SaaS are:

  • Never having to manage with installing or upgrading software
  • Equipment failure does not result in data loss
  • Scalable use of resources adapted on business needs

SaaS is suited for non-technical companies and startups who wish to deploy their websites and applications rapidly. Popular SaaS solutions are email and collaboration and customer relationship management. 

Popular SaaS examples:

  • Google G Suite
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Mailchimp

2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS offers the client-server space and flexibility and encompasses tools and services that are customizable and help the client build needed applications faster and more efficient. The PaaS vendor offers additional benefits like runtime, middleware, operating system or storage regardless of whether the client has the capability to manage owned data.

 Briefly put, PaaS is a combination between both the infrastructure and the software needed for software applications. Benefits of PaaS are reducing the amount of coding necessary, automating policies and migrating applications to a hybrid model.

Key features of PaaS are: 

  • Tools for application development and hosting in the same environment
  • The provider manages security, operating system, server software backups
  • Reduces the amount of coding and automates business policies

PaaS makes an optimal solution to a team of developers that want the flexibility to build applications from scratch but want to avoid the underlying tasks like runtime and traffic load management. This type of architecture provides developers with a self-service portal for managing infrastructure from centralized IT operations but also the platforms that are installed on top of the hardware. The PaaS can be delivered through a hybrid model that uses both public IaaS and on-premise infrastructure or as a pure private PaaS. 

Popular PaaS examples are:

  • Google App Engine 
  • Heroku 
  • Out Systems 

3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) 

IaaS describes those cloud services or managed infrastructure services that use dedicated or cloud-based server and network infrastructure. The company will buy or rent server space and build from scratch without the assistance of the vendor.

IaaS gives you total control by managing the infrastructure in a public cloud, but you'll need the resources and expertise to comfortably configure and manage it. For IaaS, the service provider generally manages the hardware and the operating system of the infrastructure, the main advantage being the scalable environment. 

Key features of IaaS are: 

  • Scalable infrastructure that accommodates business and operational needs
  • Overview and full control over the infrastructure
  • IaaS is on-demand and can be purchased instead of hardware

These solutions are suited to companies with a highly skilled set of developers who can work to build applications and digital experiences from scratch themselves. If the technical team can also manage traffic loads and server maintenance in a scalable way, then IaaS can offer a full overview and control over the infrastructure.

Some popular IaaS examples are: 

  • Amazon Web Services EC2
  • Microsoft Azure  IaaS / Virtual Machines
  • Google Cloud Compute Engine

Saas vs PaaS vs IaaS: which one is right for you?

To summarize, IaaS gets companies only the infrastructure that needs building applications on top of it. With PaaS, you also get some building blocks in the form of customizable tools, whereas SaaS offers direct access to pre-built applications that can be used right away with no technical input.

The type of cloud architecture you choose should depend on your company’s technical capabilities and business needs. If your offering is too complex for pre-built applications but you have the technical team needed to build from scratch, then IaaS or PaaS can be the solution.

If, however, your core business is non-technical and you want to launch straightforward projects then a SaaS is the right architecture type for you.

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