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App Development
9 minutes read

IaaS Vs PaaS Vs SaaS: A Basic Guide to Cloud Delivery Models

by Robert Kazmi
App Development
9 minutes read

The ‘Everything as a Service’ philosophy (IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS), also known as the Cloud Delivery Model, is an important business concept. Whether your company is in the B2B or B2C segment, you should understand the difference between IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS, which correspond to Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service respectively. 

These layers of the Cloud Delivery Model aren’t just relevant for technology companies. If you are a customer, you should also be familiar with these solutions as they can help you achieve specific goals. If you are in the app business, then it is even more important that you have a clear differentiation of these solutions. In this post, we discuss why understanding the difference between IaaS Vs PaaS Vs SaaS is important and what each of these terms mean. 

Everything as a Service

Having a clear understanding of the different layers of the Cloud Delivery Model (IaaS Vs PaaS Vs SaaS) can help businesses and customers alike make the right decisions in terms of the tools they need, whether to offer them or pay for them.

Thanks to powerful servers and high-speed Internet, among other things, technology companies can offer solutions that are hosted on the cloud, like cloud apps. Cloud app development has made it possible for many new technologies to reach users’ devices. Through the Internet, it is easy to distribute services across the globe. In other words, through cloud technologies and apps, a specific technological solution can be delivered to a great number of customers easily through the web.

Scalability 

These solutions can easily scale, resulting in economies of scale for service providers. Because most of these Cloud Delivery services are offered under a subscription business model, as more people use a specific tool, more revenue flows into the pockets of service providers while the marginal costs of adding one additional client remain very low. Since fixed costs remain more or less stable once the service is deployed, adding more users does not make a considerable difference. Only once the system’s capacity reaches its peak will new investments in Cloud infrastructure be needed.

As a result of this model, technology companies can build digital products and solutions that can reach a wide audience, increasing their revenue with each new customer while keeping their costs low; this is the magic of scalability. 

At the same time, customers can access a variety of tools that can be used for a wide range of purposes and at a reasonable price. Before this model, it was unthinkable to deliver software solutions to customers at a massive scale and at a low price.

5G Networks

Throughout Cloud Delivery solutions, the core computer processing power is not on the client’s side. On the contrary, it lies on the service provider’s side, whether through its own infrastructure or through a third party Cloud infrastructure provider.  

This helps reduce the need for devices that require vast amounts of processing power and opens up many possibilities to deliver solutions to customers. However, in order for this model to work, a stable and fast bandwidth connection is needed. Otherwise, it is impossible to transfer vast amounts of data from users to the service provider and back again.

5G networks will help technology companies deploy better and more broadband intensive technologies to customers thanks to the possibility to transfer more information on the web at a greater speed while reducing latency. As a result, 5G connections will help improve Cloud services in important ways.

The Different Layers of the Cloud Delivery Model

In general, ‘Everything as a Service’ philosophy encompasses three broad groups. It is convenient to think of each group as a different layer of a whole. Each layer builds on top of the previous one, making them a group of solutions that are connected to one another. The different layers of the Cloud Delivery Model are:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is the smallest of the three. In this category, a third party provides services related to infrastructures such as servers, storage, and networks. This basically covers everything related to Cloud services. 
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This second category is broader than the previous one. Here, the third-party service provider is in charge of delivering everything related to cloud services (servers, storage, networks) and also the operating system, middleware, and runtime—basically everything related to DevOps.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This third and last category is the broadest, as it encompasses the previous two layers. Here, the third-party service provider is in charge of cloud services, DevOps, data management and processing, as well as everything related to an application or piece of software. 

In the next sections, I will discuss in detail the differences between these three different types of services. 

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the bottom layer of the Cloud Delivery Model. It encompasses almost everything related to IT infrastructure, cloud infrastructure, and cloud computing. Through this type of service, third parties provide services related to cloud servers and other cloud components, sometimes including data storage and management.

Companies that are highly dependent on cloud service models often hire an IaaS service provider to make sure that they concentrate their efforts on their product. This way, companies can delegate these important processes without losing control and reliability while gaining flexibility. 

Since infrastructure services can be easily scaled in case it is needed, IaaS customers can avoid the risks of being unable to scale or doing so incorrectly. They can leave this to experts that can configure their systems to work correctly even during moments of peak resource demand.

Some of the best IaaS service providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Compute Engine. These companies offer services such as virtual machines and other cloud solutions. Koombea is an AWS partner.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

A Platform as a Service (PaaS) is the second layer of the Cloud Delivery Model. A platform is a channel to distribute apps to different users across a network. This solution indirectly encompasses the same services as IaaS plus a few others. These other services are mostly related to DevOps. They correspond mostly to Cloud-related matters like the software or operating system on which the platform runs. Having the right operating system in place is necessary in order for cloud technologies to run correctly depending on what needs to be done. Tools like Kubernetes and Docker are popular among PaaS providers and clients. 

The middleware is another important component of PaaS. This is known as ‘the glue’ that allows data to be exchanged between distributed applications. This is necessary because different apps can work with different types of data structures, so it is mandatory to convert one app’s data into something that another app can use if they are running on the same platform. 

Lastly, we have the runtime, also known as the runtime environment. To be executed, apps require a hardware and software infrastructure to run on, and this is provided by the runtime environment, which is an essential component of a PaaS solution. The runtime environment must guarantee data security through a proper configuration of the different software components or otherwise, the platform’s users’ data can become compromised. 

SaaS and PaaS are strongly intertwined. A strong platform is needed in order for an app or any other software to work properly. Many companies, like for the case of infrastructure, do not have the resources or are not willing to invest time and money into building a platform. That’s why PaaS alternatives have become so popular for apps. One of the many PaaS advantages is to offer companies secure and flexible platforms to deploy their apps. Like with IaaS, this helps companies optimize processes while focusing on their core activities.

In particular, web applications can strongly benefit from PaaS solutions. This is particularly true for the case of eCommerce products as well as FinTech and MedTech apps. 

PaaS examples include but are not limited to:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Cloud

Software as a Service (SaaS)

On top of the infrastructure and the platform layers, we finally have Software as a Service (SaaS). Once the other two layers have been set up, companies can finally offer their software solutions to customers. Only through the right Cloud and DevOps technologies can an app be correctly deployed so that downtime is reduced and end-users satisfied. In the end, it all sums up into building great apps that work correctly through the three layers of the Cloud Delivery Model.

When offering SaaS applications, companies need to make sure that their value proposition is clear, from how the technology is built and set up, to how different software components are integrated and how a User Experience is designed to meet users’ needs. This means not only building great software, but also taking into account aspects such as the right SaaS delivery protocols, the correct business model, and even the quality assurance process. 

Final Thoughts on IaaS Vs PaaS Vs SaaS

Great software is more than just the code that powers an application. It is an entire edifice of technology layers that rest one on top of the other so that end users can have a powerful and engaging experience.

Building an app requires a wide array of capabilities that span over the infrastructure (IaaS), the platform (PaaS), and the software itself (SaaS). Any app, no matter how good it is, will eventually require software updates. Only by guaranteeing that the entire building is structurally solid will your company be able to deliver a great app. 

Knowing the differences between the various layers of the Cloud Delivery Model is necessary to build a world-class app. More importantly, knowing how to navigate the complexities found within each layer is necessary to guarantee a world-class app experience. 

At Koombea we have been building apps since 2007. We understand how to adequately merge the infrastructure, platform, and software of an app in order to deliver powerful cloud-based applications. 

Contact us for a free consultation and find out why we might be the right development partner for your app. 

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