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App Development
5 minutes read

IaaS Vs. PaaS Vs. Serverless: Understanding Your Options 

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
5 minutes read

IaaS, PaaS, and serverless are just a few cloud computing options available to your organization. Serverless computing is one of the most popular cloud services currently available. As a result, it has garnered a lot of attention from businesses looking for cost-effective ways to access computing power. 

However, there are several different terms and acronyms used by cloud providers and HiTech industry experts, which can get confusing and make it difficult for your organization to find the cloud solutions best suited for its needs. Therefore, before you choose a cloud platform or service provider, you must understand the distinct advantages and key differences between the most common cloud solutions. 

This post will explore three of the most common and popular cloud computing technologies: PaaS, IaaS, and serverless computing. 

Making Sense of Common Cloud Services, IaaS, PaaS, and Serverless 

IaaS, PaaS, and serverless computing are all closely related backend services. Developers use all three approaches in mobile app and web development. While each cloud service is similar, there are key differences, differing pricing models, and varying resources used in each approach. 

As we define each cloud service, their similarities and differences will become apparent. Typically, a cloud provider can offer all these service options, but the particulars may vary between providers.  

What Is IaaS?

The acronym IaaS stands for infrastructure as a service. IaaS is a cloud solution that enables businesses to provision data storage, processing power, and other vital computing services. In addition, organizations can deploy code and run software with these cloud resources. 

However, while the organization will have control over the code it deployed, it will not control the underlying cloud infrastructure. In some cases, a business might have limited control over specific networking components like firewalls depending on the IaaS provider.

One of the defining characteristics of the IaaS approach to cloud computing is that organizations pre-purchase services. This requires your developers and IT staff to estimate app resource requirements for a given month or billing period and ensure that they purchase enough. 

Over or under-provisioning cloud resources will not be time or cost-effective for your organization. If you choose the IaaS approach, fully understand your software requirements and make sure you have a plan for sudden spikes in user demand. 

What Is PaaS?

The acronym PaaS stands for platform as a service. PaaS is a cloud solution that enables organizations to build and deploy applications without building or maintaining the underlying infrastructure. One significant difference between PaaS and IaaS is that businesses are charged for the resources they use. 

While organizations that use PaaS technologies can access more resources when demand increases, they need to request the provider to increase their available resources to meet the level of demand. 

The platform as a service approach to cloud computing is mainly used by developers to build and deliver applications over the Internet. It is a logical evolutionary step from IaaS, but that doesn’t mean your business should choose PaaS over IaaS. 

There is a simple way to think about these two cloud solutions. Choose IaaS if you want to build and manage a data collection system. IaaS services form the backbone of innovations built on the cloud. On the other hand, choose PaaS solutions when you want to build a specific application and deliver it to users over the Internet without managing the complexities of backend infrastructure and resources. 

What Is Serverless Computing? 

Serverless computing is very similar to PaaS solutions. However, serverless solutions enable developers to create applications that automatically scale without managing backend infrastructure or server resources. Serverless is a misnomer because, in actuality, servers are being used, but they are being managed by a service provider like AWS or Azure. 

Serverless applications probably sound a lot like PaaS apps, but there are some crucial differences you should understand. First, developers have less control over their deployment environment with serverless applications. Second, serverless applications scale on demand to meet user demand in real time. Finally, serverless code is only executed when invoked. 

PaaS applications must be configured to scale automatically with demand. In addition, PaaS apps are less lightweight than serverless applications. This means that PaaS apps take longer to launch, and some functions need to be run continuously to avoid latency on the user’s end.

As a result, serverless applications are more cost-effective to run than PaaS apps. In addition, providers can be far more accurate with serverless billing. Your organization will only pay for the resources it uses down to the microsecond. 

Serverless architecture is quickly becoming a popular option for developers thanks to vital services from providers like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Developers use tools like AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, or Microsoft Azure Functions to create a serverless application that can scale automatically to meet user demand.

Many industry experts agree that serverless architecture can be labeled as FaaS or function as a service. Serverless functions come with high availability and short startup time. 

The two criticisms of the serverless approach are ceding more control to third-party services and vendor lock-in. However, vendor lock-in is a by-product of FaaS providers like AWS offering excellent services and additional features. 

In addition to the many serverless functions offered by AWS, they also offer a rich ecosystem of AWS partners. AWS partners are development experts in all things AWS. Amazon hand-picks the development teams awarded AWS partner status, so your business knows it is working with a skilled team. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to find a serverless solution or a cloud service like PaaS or IaaS, your business has several great options. However, if you are having trouble deciding between the platforms and services, reach out to an experienced app development partner. A skilled partner can help guide your business through the serverless, PaaS, and IaaS options.

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