Comparing the 3 Different Cloud Computing Services

From small mom-and-pop businesses to global corporations, cloud computing is being used to streamline commercial operations while reducing overhead and other IT-related costs. According to some reports, the cloud computing services market will balloon to a whopping $180 billion by the end of the year.

While there are dozens of different types of cloud environments, each with their own characteristics, most cloud services can be broken down into one of three different categories: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Infrastructure as a Service

One of the three primary cloud computing services is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which is characterized by the use of virtualized hardware. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) describes IaaS as delivering virtual hardware services to clients by abstracting away its infrastructure details. An organization, for instance, may custom order a virtual server through IaaS. The IaaS provider then pulls the necessary hardware resources from various servers, delivering the virtualized components to the organization.

Examples of IaaS include the following:

  • Virtual machines

  • Containers

  • Virtual data centers

  • Servers

  • Load balancers

  • Networks

Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is typically used to run, test and develop applications while using the resources of cloud-based servers. Normally, the provider delivers a computing platform, including an operating system, program execution environment, database, etc. for the client to use. This allows the client to develop and run their applications within a controlled cloud environment without dealing with the technical hurdles and cost associated with purchasing the actual physical hardware.

Examples of PaaS include the following:

  • Execution runtime

  • Database

  • Development tools

Software as a Service

At the very top of the cloud computing services hierarchy is Software as a Service (SaaS), also known as a”on-demand service.” In this service model, providers give users access to apps, programs, software and databases, all of which are stored on cloud-based servers. The provider is responsible for managing and maintaining the infrastructure used to run these applications.

SaaS has become increasingly popular due to the cost-savings that it offers. If a company needs 50 copies of a particular software, one for each of its 50 workers, it could purchase 50 physical copies. Alternatively, the company could purchase the software “as a service” for its 50-person workforce. Pricing models for SaaS will vary depending on the software and number of users, but organizations can expect to pay less for SaaS as opposed to other methods of delivery. And furthermore, SaaS uses the resources of the cloud-based server, meaning older computers can often run the software without needing to upgrade their hardware.

Examples of SaaS include the following:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software

  • Virtual desktops

  • Email

  • Video conferencing apps

Thanks for reading and feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below regarding cloud computing services.