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There is a wide selection of cloud solutions available for businesses and individuals worldwide. Choosing the right solution may prove difficult if you aren’t familiar with frequently used cloud services such as IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and others.
This is why we are dedicating this article to clarifying the meaning, benefits, risks and common use cases for these popular cloud services.
What is IaaS?
Infrastructure as a service provides consumers with access to fundamental computing resources like processing, virtualization, storage and networks. IaaS solutions allow you to deploy and run arbitrary software such as operating systems and applications. The cloud service provider (CSP) controls and manages the underlying cloud infrastructure, but you have control over operating systems, storage and deployed applications.
Practical use and benefits of IaaS
Using IaaS solutions allows you to:
- Avoid the high costs of buying hardware and setting up a new server infrastructure on your physical location
- Access your files and data with higher security
- Save several days or even weeks worth of time spent on setup and installation
- Scale your computing resources up or down quickly, to meet your changing business needs
Potential risks involved with IaaS:
- It can be more difficult to guarantee compliance with data management regulation. You must clearly establish accountability and control over sensitive information in your systems from day one.
- Potential data loss is another risk when you choose to rely on a cloud service provider. It is essential to have a reliable disaster recovery plan in place to minimize the damage in case of an incident.
- With the flexibility and accessibility of the cloud also comes reliance on the CSP. If your IaaS provider’s system goes down, so will yours. It is essential to check if they have a comprehensive recovery plan and policy in place before making your decision.
Dilbert by Scott Adams
Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, IBM Cloud, HP Public Cloud, Cisco Metapod, DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace
Who is IaaS for?
IaaS is a flexible solution that can be utilized by everyone who wants to manage software without having to worry about hardware. It is also a great choice for organizations that only need computing power on the short term, or for certain operations that require high capacity computing resources (e.g.: large batch processing).
Potential users of IaaS solutions:
- Startups that are delivering a proof of concept, or require fast scaling within a short period of time.
- SMBs that need a fast start and scaling without investing in too many resources in hardware.
- IaaS is an ideal solution for Agile teams as well. It provides them with high flexibility while decreasing their reliance on corporate bureaucracy.
- Also a viable solution for side/personal projects. Low-cost starter packages of CSPs allow anyone to set up an infrastructure quickly, without having to invest in physical systems.
What is PaaS?
Platform as a service provides a cloud platform allowing customers to develop, run and manage applications. As a customer, you only control the applications and data on the platform, while the cloud service provider manages operating systems, middleware, virtualization, servers, storage and networking.
Practical use and benefits of PaaS
Using PaaS solutions allows you to:
- Reduce the costs involved with software development and deployment
- Avoid the need of setting up additional server and storage space that would lie dormant once the development process is complete
- Reduce the costs of managing software updates and maintenance
- Achieve a faster time to market, greater speed and agility throughout the development process
Potential risks involved with PaaS
Same as with IaaS, you will also be susceptible to server malfunctions or compliance issues if you choose a dodgy PaaS provider. To be safe, double check accountability, control and disaster recovery principles and guidelines. Another potential issue worth mentioning is that these solutions require a very stable connection, and enough bandwidth to run smoothly at all times.
Heroku, Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, OpenShift, Force.com, Apache Stratos
Who is PaaS for?
Teams that need extra computing power without wanting to worry about operating systems, server administration, and associated costs (energy, acquisition, maintenance, human resources etc.). Organizations that experience frequent spikes in computing requirements, don’t have the resources or don’t want to manage IT infrastructure internally.
Potential users of PaaS solutions:
- Development teams who need a highly scalable and flexible platform to manage their applications and data during projects.
- High-growth businesses that would likely experience a higher ROI from scaling a virtual platform, compared to developing their own physical systems.
What is SaaS?
Software as a Service solutions are ready-made software products built on the cloud, and made available for customer’s use on a subscription basis. You can most often run this type of software as a web application without installing anything on your local devices. Everything, including applications and data, is stored and managed on the cloud. Chances are, you have already used multiple such software products. SaaS solutions are mostly available to use for a monthly or yearly fee, and they often have a more basic free-to-use option as well.
Practical use and benefits of SaaS
Using SaaS solutions allows you to:
- Integrate new software solutions into your business processes quickly, without losing time and money on installation
- Access applications and data from any location, at any time, on multiple devices
- Let the software provider deal with hardware and software updates, removing this responsibility and workload from yourself
- Scale your selected application by simply upgrading your subscription as your business grows, or more users need to access the software
Potential risks involved with SaaS
The lowest cost among other cloud solutions comes with the highest level of reliance on the software provider. Everything, including applications and user data is managed by the CSP, which can easily lead to privacy and data security compliance issues. Also, you often have to sacrifice customization for high accessibility, if you decide to use a ready-made solution. This can result in you subscribing to a software product that doesn’t serve your business as well as an in-house solution could.
Office 365, Semrush, Asana, Salesforce, Planning Pod, Dropbox
Who are SaaS solutions for?
Depending on their specific needs, anyone can benefit from the right SaaS. There is a wide range of applications available out there that provide solutions for businesses and individuals alike. SaaS are ideal for organizations that don’t want to invest into building their own in-house software solutions. They are also handy for individuals or freelancers who don’t have access to as many resources as enterprises.
IaaS, PaaS, SaaS – A Simple Comparison
Your choice of cloud services should coincide with your organizational needs and overall business plan. The core benefit of using any cloud solutions is the ability to digitize and scale your business in a much more time- and cost-efficient manner.
IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS
Read more about why you absolutely should digitize your business processes here:
7 Reasons Why You Need to Start Business Digitization Right Now
When should you run your server internally (on-premises)?
Having your servers set up internally can also carry significant benefits for your organization.
Most notably, you can guarantee a higher level of security and resilience compared to having external storage. Holding internal systems behind firewalls and backed up as part of a standard set of security procedures makes your data inherently more secure against external attacks.
Also, without using outsourced suppliers, you can guarantee GDPR compliance with much less difficulty.
Consider internal, external and even hybrid hosting options in accordance with your unique organizational needs. It is generally advised to host your software and data internally if you only use it internally. If you have to share your data with external parties (partners, customers, etc.), it’s typically best to host it externally.
Choose the hybrid option if you need to use data in-house and with outside parties as well. The latter is the case for most organizations today. Hybrid hosting guarantees them the optimal combination of security and collaboration.
Today’s IaaS, PaaS, SaaS solutions (and their different combinations) help you digitize and scale your operations faster than ever before. This also means that things can take a downturn just as fast.
Taking your business to the cloud requires careful planning, research and coordination. It is important to be familiar with CSP policies and procedures in order to make use of their benefits and minimize potential risks.
We hope that this article managed to help you see the world of cloud services more clearly. Happy cloud diving!
RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.
Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.