SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS : Differences Explained

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The cloud service is an umbrella term which covers a lot of online territory. It is in debate in all the business sectors starting from the small business to the huge enterprises. But while one makes a decision to switch to the cloud, there are some things which you must understand. You should be aware about the various clouds services, the advantage they provide and their differences. This will make your work a lot easier. This article will give you insights about the three main cloud service models; (SaaS) Software as a service, (PaaS) Platform as a service and (IaaS) Infrastructure as a service. A detailed explanation of their concept, benefit and variance is provided below. Look through them and choose the best for your company.

Software As A Service (SaaS)

Popularly known as “on-demand-software”, this software licensing and delivery model is licensed on a subscription basis. This cloud application service is widely used for businesses in the cloud market. This utilises the internet to deliver applications that are managed by a third party vendor to its users. The users do not require any download or installation because a majority of SaaS applications can run directly through the web browser.


It cuts the labour work of IT staff for the download and installation of the application on the client’s computer because of its web delivery model. They can be used directly through web browsers. Having SaaS will result in a streamlined maintenance and support for the business as the vendors can manage all potential technical issues which may arise like, data, middleware, servers, storage etc.


  • Easy to use
  • User can test the software functionality in advance
  • Reduces the time spent on installation and configuration
  • Hardware and software costs are very low
  • Low maintenance
  • Gives staff the time to focus on other tasks


A few ways that will help you determine when SaaS is being utilised:

  • Its central location management
  • Hosted on a remote server
  • Its accessibility over the internet
  • Users are not responsible for its software and hardware updates

When to use

SaaS is the most favourable option for various businesses which includes:

  1. The start-ups or the small businesses or companies who wish to launch their ecommerce rapidly and cannot afford to spend much time and money on server issues or software
  2. For the short term projects which need quick, easy and affordable collaboration
  3. Some applications like tax software which aren’t needed on a regular basis
  4. For those applications which require the access through both web and mobile


  • Performance and downtime- the customer will have to depend on the vendor to maintain the service’s security and performance. Despite adequate service level agreement protections, the planned and unplanned maintenance, cyber attacks, network issues are unavoidable.
  • Feature limitations- Due to its standardised form, there maybe some compromise against security, cost performance and other organisational policy.
  • Security- As a third party service provider has control over it, customers may therefore need to redefine their data security and governance models to fit the features and functionality of the SaaS service.
  • Customised- It offer minimal customization capabilities. Since a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist, users may be limited to specific functionality, performance, and integrations as offered by the vendor.
  • Interoperability- Integration with existing apps and services can be a major concern if the SaaS app is not designed to follow open standards for integration. Here organizations may need to design their own integration systems or reduce dependencies with SaaS services.
  • Vendors lock-in system- Vendors will make it easy for their users to join in a service and difficult for them to get out.
  • Lack of integration support- The SaaS vendor may offer limited support in this regard, forcing organizations to invest internal resources in designing and managing integrations. The complexity of integrations can further limit the SaaS services.
  • Data security- Transferring sensitive business information to public-cloud based SaaS service may result in compromised security and compliance in addition to significant cost for migrating large data workloads.

Examples: Google Workspace, Dropbox, Salesforce, Cisco WebEx, SAP Concur Go To Meeting etc.

Platform As A Service (PaaS)

Mainly used for application, this cloud platform service, provides cloud components to certain software. It provides the framework that the developers need to build and use the customised applications. It allows the developer to maintain the application management while the servers, storage and networking can be handled by an enterprise or the third party provider.


PaaS provides a platform for software creation rather than internet. Uses web for its delivery and gives the developers the freedom to concentrate on building the software without having to worry about operating systems, software updates, storage, or infrastructure.


  • Significant reduction the in usage of coding
  • Scalable
  • Easy to migrate to the hybrid model
  • Automation of business policy
  • With no maintenance of the software, developers can customise apps
  • Readily available
  • Simple, cost effective development and apps


Being a cloud service, PaaS has many characteristics which includes,

  • Integrating web services and databases
  • The same development application can be made accessible to numerous users
  • Provides a variety of services to assist with the development, testing, and deployment of apps
  • Resources can be scaled up or down depending on the business, due to its foundation on virtualization technology

When to use

Using PaaS can prove to be very beneficial in various situation.

  1. For customised applications
  2. With multiple developers working in the same development project, this can streamline the workflow
  3. Provide greater speed and flexibility when multiple vendors are present
  4. While rapidly developing or deploying an app, it will highly reduce the cost


  • Operational limitation- The platform tends to limit operational capabilities for end users. Although this is intended to reduce the operational burden on end users, the loss of operational control may affect the PaaS solutions.
  • Runtime issues- Not usually optimised for language and frameworks as per your choice. Customers will not be able to develop custom in the platform.
  • Vendor lock in service- Without vendor convenient migration policy, the business might get affected while switching to other alternative. The PaaS specific solution maynot be applicable in future.
  • Integrations- The complexity of connecting the data stored within an onsite data centre or off-premise cloud is increased, which may affect which apps and services can be adopted with the PaaS offering.
  • Security- The data residing in third-party, vendor-controlled cloud servers poses security risks and concerns and your security options may be limited as customers.

Examples: Open shift,, Heroku, Microsoft Azure, Google app engine, AWS elastic beanstalk etc.

Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS)

This cloud infrastructure service is highly scalable and has automated compute resources. It is very different from the other two as it is a fully self-service for accessing and monitoring computers, networking, storage and other services. Instead of buying hardware outright, IaaS allows the businesses to purchase resource on demand and as needed.


Through virtualization technology, this cloud service includes servers, network, operating systems, and storage. Typically provided to the organization through a dashboard or an API, IaaS gives its clients complete control over the entire infrastructure. IaaS also provides the same technologies and capabilities as a traditional data center without having to physically maintain or manage all of it. Through IaaS clients can still access their servers and storage directly, but it is all outsourced through a “virtual data center” in the cloud.


  • Highly scalable
  • Considered to be the most flexible cloud computing model
  • Consumption based hardware purchase
  • Resources purchased as needed
  • Clients can have complete control over their infrastructure
  • Easy to automate deployment of storage, networking, servers, and processing power


  • Provide the resources are available as a service
  • Cost is not fix. It varies depending on consumption
  • Services are highly scalable
  • Provides the option of having multiple users on a single piece of hardware
  • Organization can retain complete control of the infrastructure
  • Highly dynamic and flexible

When to use

Due to its high flexibility and scalability it can used anytime one is looking out for the cloud computing service. Although they are beneficial for every situation, they can be used to their full potential in:

  1. Small businesses and the start-ups often prefer IaaS so that any extra time or money is not spent on purchasing and creating the hardware and software.
  2. Not only the small business but the big enterprises also choose IaaS. This is because IaaS will allow them to have complete control over their applications and infrastructure.
  3. Companies experiencing rapid growth like the scalability of IaaS, because they can change out specific hardware and software easily as their needs evolve.


The limitations like ata security, cost overruns, vendor lock-in and customization issues are also found with IaaS. Some other and specific issues with IaaS are:

  • Multi tenant security– As the hardware resources are dynamic, the vendor is required to ensure that other customers do not get access to the data stored by the previous customer. And the customers must rely on the vendor to ensure that VMs are adequately isolated within the multi tenant cloud architecture.
  • Resource training- To learn the effective management of the infrastructure, one has to undergo additional training. Without adequate knowledge and training it will be difficult without adequate training and resources available in-house.
  • Legacy systems- Minor changes in the legacy apps may be required before migrating them to the cloud, possibly leading to new security issues unless adequately tested for security and performance in the IaaS systems.

Examples: Cisco Metacloud, Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, DigitalOcean, Linode, Google Compute Engine.

We at Augmento Labs, with our expert team with years of experience in this field are helping our customers to expand their business with innovative ideas and the new age technologies. We have the experienced team which will guide you through the latest developments. If you have any queries you can contact us and we are ready with the hands-on skills to help you in your development project.


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