With so much digital jargon nowadays, it can often seem like we’re talking an entirely different language. The world of technology is full of acronyms and abbreviations that can sometimes be a little confusing, especially in cloud services. How can you find the best cloud-based solutions to optimize your business if you don’t know what half of them even mean?

Currently, SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) are the most popular cloud service models, offering different benefits, subscription models, and more. But what do these acronyms actually mean, and how can they be beneficial to your business? 

We’ll clear things up with a complete breakdown of each service, including: 

  • SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Definitions
  • Key differences between the different services
  • Know which cloud solution is best for you

Let’s get started!

SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Definitions

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are three of the most popular cloud computing paradigms. We know it’s easy to confuse one another due to their similarities, but they aren’t exchangeable. Let’s dive into some definitions.

What is SaaS?

SaaS (Software as a Service) are cloud-based services that optimize specific processes. Through their hosting services, these companies make applications accessible over the internet. It’s the most popular cloud option because it eliminates the hassle of managing software and hardware. SaaS usually operates through subscription-based models – you register to the service and pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee to access the features.

Benefits of SaaS

SaaS offers many benefits, but the following are the most important:

  • Highly Scalable: The biggest benefit is that they are highly scalable, which means they can grow with your company. 
  • Flexibility: SaaS businesses adapt to your business needs, which means you can choose the best possible solution for your business.
  • Functionality: These platforms can offer the same functionality as a desktop program, but the user doesn’t need to download software or purchase any hardware, making this solution perfect for any business. 

Some examples of SaaS companies are Expensify, Square, FROGED, and Freshbooks. These businesses sell their software as a service so that you can immediately access it on the internet whenever and wherever you want.

When to use SaaS?

A SaaS platform is ideal if you want full control over your high-performance software. It will help you improve customer satisfaction and engagement and reduce churn. Additionally, SaaS companies can help you keep track of your business and customer metrics as your business grows.

What is PaaS?

PaaS, or Platform as a Service, is a cloud computing model that allows you to build and run applications without managing the underlying infrastructure. It’s often used when building web applications but can also be used for mobile apps. PaaS makes building and deploying applications easy without worrying about the underlying hardware, software, or network configuration details. This means less time wasted on setup and more time spent on what really matters: building great software!

According to Wikipedia, PaaS platforms are delivered in three ways:

  1. As a public cloud service from a provider
  2. As a private service behind a firewall
  3. As software deployed on public infrastructure as a service

Benefits of PaaS

The PaaS platform’s main benefits are:

  • Scalability: Your application can easily scale up without managing more resources.
  • Pay-as-you-go: The pay-as-you-go pricing model lets you pay only for the hardware and software licenses you use rather than paying for them all at once.
  • Flexibility: PaaS allows you to switch between different programming languages and frameworks without worrying about compatibility.

Here are some examples of the best PaaS companies:  Microsoft Power Automate, TBD, Heroku, and Google App Engine

When to use PaaS?

If you’re new to developing web-based applications but don’t want to spend months learning how to configure servers or databases yourself or if your team is small and doesn’t have a lot of experience with these things, PaaS is a great place to start!  PaaS platforms are ideal when your application requires complex backend components or when there are too many moving parts for you to handle on your own. 

What is IaaS?

IaaS stands for “Infrastructure as a Service.” It’s a type of cloud computing that provides clients with the tools and resources to build their custom solutions without hiring a team of developers. It’s perfect if you want to access resources from an outside provider rather than doing it themselves typically use it.

You can also choose between private and public IaaS providers. Private providers allow you to customize your own hardware and software configurations, while public providers offer standard hardware configurations. 

Benefits of IaaS

IaaS platforms offer several advantages. The most important ones are the following: 

  • Scalability: The ability to quickly expand or reduce as your needs change (rather than buying expensive hardware that you cannot re-sell)
  • Flexibility: IaaS applications don’t lock you into using resources in a particular way.
  • Pay only what you use: This enables you to only pay for what you use (so that if you need more resources in the future, you don’t have to pay for them).

According to TechTarget, some examples of IaaS independent platforms are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). 

When to use IaaS

IaaS is an excellent option for companies that need to scale up quickly. It’s also perfect for companies that want to avoid the costs and overhead of maintaining their own data centers, especially startups and small companies. Additionally, you can use it for bigger companies that only want to pay for the exact resources they use when developing infrastructure.  

Key differences between the different services

You must have realized they’re three different concepts after learning everything about SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. Let’s look at the main differences between them!

Provides software as a service to end usersProvides tools for the development of applicationsProvides access to resources to build custom infrastructures
Used by end usersUsed by developersUsed by network architects
Available services: Email, office automation, CRM, website testing, virtual desktopAvailable services: Service and application test, development, and integrationAvailable services: Virtual machines, operating systems, network, storage, and backup services
Higher control and flexibilityA good degree of control and flexibilityA minimal degree of control and flexibility
Available over the internetAccessible by multiple usersAccessible by multiple users
It’s scalable, with different options for SMEs, medium-sized businesses, and larger enterprisesIt’s scalable. Customers can choose from different levels of computing resources Highly flexible and highly scalable

SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS: Know which cloud solution is best for you

The three cloud services, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, are built on different levels of cloud computing, but they all serve the same purpose: to help companies focus on their unique areas of expertise

SaaS helps businesses automate tasks, PaaS simplifies application development, and IaaS allows companies to focus on their own data center maintenance. But the main differences between them are that SaaS primarily focuses on improving your business’s metrics, and PaaS mainly focuses on developing applications for your business. On the other hand, IaaS provides resources for you to build custom infrastructure. Using the table above, you can choose the best option for your business based on your specific needs.

If you’re looking for more, look at our SaaS Glossary to get definitions for all the most important SaaS metrics and terms, or check out our FROGED solutions