Choosing Your Cloud Computing Service: IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS (Pros and Cons)

The cloud native infrastructure has a central role in the current era of application development. With the right design and cloud native security best practices, this technology minimizes the chaos in your environment, allowing the company to streamline its efforts to what matters the most: building quality applications, while also focusing on application security.

Shifting Focus from On-premises to As-a-Service Infrastructure

Infrastructure refers to all pieces of software and hardware that support the application's features, functionality, and services. Think of the operating systems, data centers, and the deployment pipelines that support SDLC.
Traditionally, organizations have been relying on on-premises infrastructure. In an on-premises model, the software and hardware infrastructure is deployed and ran within the confines of the company.
The major benefit of hosting your infrastructure is that you have absolute control over the setup. Besides the ability to customize the model to your unique needs, an on-premises system also puts you atop of your security measures.
This complete control comes with its fair share of drawbacks, the biggest of which is capital expenditure. With on-premises set up, the organization needs to purchase the infrastructural components upfront. This cost, coupled with maintaining the network on your own, can be a challenge for a business with limited technical resources and a tight budget.
This is where cloud service providers come in. In this approach, a third-party service provider handles all the necessary infrastructure over the internet. This simplifies most of the company’s infrastructure-related concerns, including maintenance, downtimes, and scalability. Taking this load off your shoulders allows you to focus on the organization’s core strategies.
Besides creating a worry-free IT environment, cloud infrastructure is relatively affordable. It eliminates the hefty upfront costs if favor of predictable monthly payments based on what the business consumes.
There are 3 major cloud services that you’ll need to choose from when giving your business a digital transformation; infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaF), software-as-a-service (SaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaF).
The major similarity between these 3 solutions is that they aim to reduce organizational costs and ease maintenance burdens. The difference comes down to how much of the stack you can- and are ready to control- and what you want the provider to control. Each of these models has its strengths and weaknesses depending on your business’s resources and the level of flexibility that you’re looking for.
Let’s take a look.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Explained

In an IaaS cloud computing model, the service provider hosts the fundamental hardware- virtualization, servers, storage, and networking. This relieves you the expense of purchasing and maintaining these infrastructures. The vendor provides each of these components on-demand and subscription (hourly, weekly, or monthly) basis. This means that you pay for what you need and only for as long as you want it.
Importantly, the vendor also offers several basic supportive services to complement those infrastructural components. These include log access, monitoring, security, detailed billing, and load balancing and clustering. The supplier may also be responsible for other storage resiliency services, such as replication, backup, and recovery.
If you choose to go with the IaaS approach, you’re left to purchase and install the operating system, applications, and malware. You’ll also be in control of the runtime and data.

Advantages of Infrastructure as a Service

  • Increased performance and decreased CapEx.
  • Increased security.
  • Increased scalability and flexibility.
  • Ideal environment for experimental and temporary workloads.
  • Available support in disaster recovery and business continuity.


Disadvantages of IaaS

  • Since IaaS services are granular, users may be surprised with extra costs from unauthorized services.
  • Users may have difficulties managing and monitoring the systems because they are owned by the service provider.


Platform as a Service (PAAS)

As the name suggests, a platform as a service cloud computing model offers the IT team a complete environment fully furnished to develop and deploy applications. Similar to IaaS, PaaS vendors provide the hardware that you’d otherwise have to host on-premises- storage, virtualization, servers, and networking. The service provider is also responsible for availing the necessary development tools, middleware, and database management systems, among other components.
As with IaaS and SaaS, PaaS is hosted at the vendor’s infrastructure where the users access it using a web browser. In this model, all the major IT components required to build, test, deploy, manage, and upgrade the application are provided. The user’s role is to control software deployment.

Advantages of PaaS

  • Cost-effective- no buying, installing, and maintaining infrastructure.
  • Saves time- no time required to maintain the stack.
  • Faster application deployment.
  • Flexibility- infrastructural components can be accessed via the web from anywhere.
  • Increased security- cloud service providers typically invest in high-end security components and strategies.


Disadvantages of PaaS

  • Although there is the promise of platform and infrastructure security, the company is responsible for the applications’ security.
  • Overall performance depends on the vendor’s capability.
  • There may be compatibility issues if PaaS technology is to be used alongside existing platforms.


Software as a Service (SaaS)

A SaaS is a cloud service where the vendor offers the user (company) access to software through a web browser. Before Software as a Service model was born, companies had to download and install the software in their on-premises infrastructure.
To update the software, the organization had to purchase a disc containing the update key and download it. This was a time-consuming venture, especially in large organizations with multiple devices. With time, software developers started offering updates through the internet. However, the organization still had to have the software installed in its devices.
With a SaaS cloud computing model, companies no longer need to purchase, install, and update the pieces of software they need. Instead, the vendor offers the particular software on a subscription basis. Users only need to login and connect with the service provider’s network via a web browser to access the software anywhere.

Advantages of SaaS

  • Small businesses can access pieces of software that they would otherwise not afford due to low budget.
  • Lower initial costs- there are no upfront license costs to incur because this is a subscription service.
  • Short deployment time- the software is already installed and configured in the vendor’s servers.
  • Scalability- businesses can scale up or down depending on the number of users, which further lowers the cost.
  • Time-saving- the vendor minimizes your workload by making the necessary upgrades and updates to the software.


Disadvantages of SaaS

  • The vendor has complete control of the software, so the user can’t object to any changes or upgrades in the future.
  • You need functional connectivity to access the software because it’s hosted externally.
  • Like other cloud services, there are security concerns of sensitive data.
  • While SaaS is picking up speed, some software programs are not yet available on hosted platforms.