IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS – Which Cloud Service Wins the Battle?

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS - Which cloud service wins the battle

No matter if you own a small-scale or a large-scale business, you would always look forward to cutting costs while expecting profits in turn. This can come true if the business relies on cloud application development that help organizations switch to virtual management from physical management of resources.

The worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to grow 17% in 2020 to total $266.4 billion, up from $227.8 billion in 2019 – Gartner

But, the real question is – Which cloud service you choose? In the business space where IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS add to the confusion, making the right decision can be quite overwhelming. Well, we are here to minimize your options by helping you make a data-driven decision.

Before we figure out the difference between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, let’s learn the ropes of cloud computing first.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud services helps reduce IT infrastructure costs

The Cloud is an on-demand service where a business can easily request access to system resources (hardware & software) such as computing power and data storage over the internet.

In a way, we can say, “Anywhere you go, the cloud follows,” while offering economies of scale in turn.

Cloud can either be exclusively built for an organization, i.e., enterprise cloud or, it can be commonly accessed by various organizations, i.e., a public cloud. In specific, cloud-based services such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS fall under the umbrella of the public cloud that offers useful services on the go.

The Three Models of Cloud Computing – IaaS, Paas, and SaaS

The three prominent building blocks of cloud-based computing – IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are adding convenience to businesses across the globe. These cloud services can transform your digital experience while reducing the infrastructural costs in turn. Here is an overview of the three cloud services that ease the differentiation between Iaas vs PaaS vs SaaS.

Software as a Service (SaaS) – Consume

Suitable for: End-users or teams that are distributed across geographical locations

Plus Point: Easy to set-up and use, automatic application updates

Down Side: Lost access in case of an outage
Worldwide revenue for SaaS cloud service
SaaS is an acronym for Software as a Service, which offers cloud-based applications to the end-users. Here, the application is hosted by a provider, which, in turn, is available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

One of the most relatable SaaS examples is a product like Google Docs that allows creating and sharing documents or Dropbox that enables file sharing and download over the network.

Digital businesses should adopt SaaS in cloud computing as it offers zero management, i.e., everything is taken care of by the vendor itself. And, sometimes SaaS services could disrupt the market by developing an out-of-the-box solution, just like what Net Solutions did for SampleBoard.

Rosslyn Tebbutt, an interior designer at SampleBoard, had the vision to create a SaaS application that could help draft visual design concepts. Using the agile software development method, we created a custom product that stood relevant to the designer industry. For more in-depth insight, here is the case study.

How Net Solutions helped SampleBoard build  A DIY SaaS for Interior Designers

Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Build on it

Suitable for: Software developers

Plus Point: Full control to create custom software, support for different programming languages

Down Side: Platform outage is equal to software outage, less flexible when compared to IaaS
Worldwide public cloud service revenue for PaaS as reported by Gartner
PaaS is the acronym for Platform as a service, which offers a dedicated framework for developers to build, test, and manage new product applications. The greatest advantage of PaaS is that it eliminates the need to have separate resources (application tools, databases, operating systems, etc.) required for application development.

In simple words, PaaS is providing a platform for developers to create applications that can be further provided as a SaaS solution. One of the prominent PaaS examples is Google App Engine that helps create and host applications easily.

PaaS is also available on a pay-as-you-go basis, which means you only pay for resources that you subscribe to. Here, all you need to do is manage the built application, and the vendor takes care of the rest.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Migrate to it

Suitable for: IT administrators

Plus Point: High level of control, on-spot scalability

Downside: IaaS provider outage, extensive expertise required
Worldwide revenue report for IaaS (2018-2022) by Gartner
IaaS is the acronym for Infrastructure as a service, which provides virtual data centers to businesses. The cloud service provides a complete infrastructure, i.e., storage and server space to experiment and build new technologies over the cloud. IaaS services are capable of hosting website and software solutions, building virtual data centers for large-scale enterprises, and can even conduct data mining and analysis.

Here, a business is responsible for managing the application hosted, the particular development tools, and the operating system deployed. On the other hand, the IaaS vendor manages the storage space, networking resources, and the dedicated data center.

A perfect IaaS example is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is leading the public cloud space. Big players such as Salesforce and Netflix are already leveraging AWS to support their ever-growing client/customer base.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS – Who Manages What?

Cloud services help a business to reduce the management of computing resources so that they can focus on core business activities.

When it is about IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS, it is imperative to know what do you manage vs what does the vendor manages.
IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS- Who manages what part of the resources
We can, therefore, conclude the following:

Self-management & control represented in descending order – IaaS > PaaS > SaaS

Iaas vs PaaS vs SaaS – Choosing a Suitable Cloud Service

The popular cloud-based solutions are independently created to fulfill the purpose it is built for. Thus, the cloud service you choose purely depends on the specific business requirements. However, many find it difficult to differentiate between the three, but if you grab the basic understanding, it is all a cakewalk.

See how this tweet helps understand different types of cloud services with a simple example.

We said earlier that the choice of cloud service depends on specific business needs. But, what are those business needs that align with the respective cloud-based computing services? Here is the difference between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS in tabular form.
IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS- When to use which cloud service according to your business needs


If you start a website, you would need an IaaS service to host it and the corresponding applications. Now, if your business wishes to create a custom software product, you would rely on PaaS for building it without worrying about the hosting part. And, once that product is ready to be used, it will be called a workable SaaS product.

All three cloud services are interconnected in the end, i.e., IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS is an interwoven cloud model that helps run major business operations. Whether you choose the I, the P, or the S of the cloud computing service, make sure your business needs get acknowledged down the line. After all, your businesses’ success depends on how well you align your requirements with the respective cloud service.

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Rajnish Kumar Sharma

About the Author

Rajnish Kumar Sharma is a Project Lead at Net Solutions and is a part of Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), and security initiatives. Apart from exploring new technologies and handling technical challenges, Rajnish is equally passionate about movies, cricket, and traveling.

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