In a pivotal scene from the Oscar award winning movie “Creed”, Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character, Rocky Balboa, finally agrees to train Adonis Creed. Rocky writes Adonis’ training program on a piece of paper. Adonis pulls out his smartphone and takes a picture of the training program and returns the paper to Rocky. Befuddled, Rocky asks, “Don’t you want this?” Adonis says, “It’s okay. It’s in the Cloud”. To which the 60 year old Rocky responds, “What Cloud?”
If you’re as confused about what the Cloud is, as Rocky Balboa, you’re not alone. As the Internet continues to grow in importance and prominence in business so does the value of introducing Cloud Computing for your application or technological infrastructure. Presently, there are 3 models of cloud services:
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
In this article, we’ll discuss SaaS Vs PaaS vs IaaS, what is the meaning of each, what are the differences and how they compare with each other.
But first you need to understand what Cloud Computing is all about.
What is Cloud Computing?
You probably have seen the traditional rendering of how the Internet works. On the graphic, you see a gigantic cloud hovering above symbols that refer to exchanges of information between computers and servers. Basically, the Cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. It facilitates the transfer of information or data between a sender and a recipient.
Thus in simplest terms, Cloud Computing is the process of accessing and storing data, information and programs using the Internet (someone else’s data) instead of your hard drive. Before the Cloud came to light, people would save files or run programs using a hard drive. This practice was referred to as Local Storage and Computing.
With Cloud Computing, there is no need for a hard drive. All you need to access the Cloud is an online connection. Businesses prefer to use cloud based applications because of the usability and the fact that employees can access the data from anywhere in the world.
The most well-known cloud system that you are surely using is email. Your email is received and handled by a server provided by third party business. It can be Gmail, Yahoo or any other email provider. You can access your email from your mobile, or any other device that’s connected to the internet.
SaaS Vs PaaS vs IaaS
As mentioned earlier there are 3 types of Cloud service businesses. Let’s dive into more details.
1. What Is Software as a Service (SaaS)
This is the most popular form of Cloud service. Many consumers; perhaps even you, avail of products that use SaaS such as Google Apps, SalesForce, DropBox, Trello and iCloud.
SaaS is the acronym of Software As A Service. It’s software that is designed with the end- user in mind. Given our previous examples, a provider like DropBox will license an application to customers as a service on demand. You are renting the right to access the software, as long as you have an active subscription. These services can be availed for free or as a paid subscription with premium features.
Most SaaS that offer their services for free will generate revenues through advertisements or by upscaling you to a paid plan. For example, Google drive offers you 5GB of storage for free, but if you want more, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Characteristics of SaaS
- A remote server is used to host the software.
- Software is accessible via the Internet.
- Frequent updates are available when necessary.
- Integrating the service with third party applications are done through API’s or Application Programming Interface.
2. What Is Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS is similar to SaaS except that it benefits the software development side more than the end user.
Whereas SaaS allows the consumer access to software programs over the Internet, PaaS makes it possible for software developers to create applications without having to worry about updates, operating systems, storage and other matters related to technological infrastructure.
Thus instead of an application, PaaS is a platform that can be accessed and delivered over the Internet by software designers who want to build prospective programs or solutions for end users.
PaaS examples: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, Force.com, Google App Engine, Apprenda, VMware and Red Hat Openshift.
The main characteristics of PaaS
Features a web based user interface with tools designed to create, modify, test and deploy various UI possibilities.
Presents a multi- tenant infrastructure whereby multiple users can use the same development applications.
Scalability of deployed software such as load balancing and failover.
Ability to accommodate team development collaboration.
Billing and subscription features are managed by built- in tools.
3. What Is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS delivers Cloud Computing infrastructure as an on- demand service. This means that instead of buying servers, software, datacenter space and network equipment, clients can avail of these resources in the form of a fully- outsourced service on demand.
IaaS is the Cloud Service solution for businesses that want complete control over the performance of their applications and software programs. It is also ideal for startups and small- scale businesses that do not have the resources to invest in hardware and software.
IaaS can either be obtained as a private, public or hybrid service. Any infrastructure that involves shared resources that is delivered on a self-service basis is referred to as a “Public Cloud”.
A “Private Cloud” has similar features of Cloud Computing such as virtualization but operates through a private network. A “Hybrid Cloud” combines dedicated hosting with public and/or private networks.
IaaS examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure
Characteristics of IaaS
- Multiple users on a single piece of hardware.
- Requires resources can be availed as a service.
- Flexible cloud computing model which includes dynamic scalability.
- Gives businesses more control over their technological infrastructure.
- Offers a variable cost solution.
The Internet has made it possible for businesses to find ways to make operations more efficient. Through SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, businesses and end users get to enjoy more of the cloud computing potential.