The Differences Between SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS

cloud computing illustration

SaaS vs IaaS vs PaaS

SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS are all service types that consumers can purchase to suit their individual software and computational needs. They are all similar in that the majority of the services reside in the cloud which means consumers do not have to pay for hardware like server racks, switch panels, and other items.

They differ in what types of services they provide. For example, a SaaS provider, like Super Easy CRM only provides great Software whereas a PaaS provider like PythonAnywhere provides the environment you need to host your own applications.

What is a SaaS?

SaaS stands for software as a service and is the most common type of the three types of services. ERPs, CRMs, Ticketing Systems, and more are all SaaS products. Nearly all industries use SaaS products, even small fast food restaurants and gas stations.

When you use a cloud-based SaaS you absolve yourself from a number of headache-inducing maintenance items that come along with maintaining applications in house. A list of those annoyances is listed below.

  • Security - For the most part, security is handled by the software vendor. If code needs to be patched or a bug is discovered, it is incumbent upon them to resolve it at no charge to you.
  • Backups - The vendor should be maintaining backups of your data for you.
  • System Availability - Uptime is solely the responsibility of the software vendor. Consumers do not have to worry about load balancing or anything else with respect to the software being accessible.

Consumer responsbilities are slightly different with on premise SaaS. When a consumer hosts a vendor's software using their own infrastructure they are responsible for everything outside of the source code.

This means the consumer is on the hook for system availability, backups, and security to a certain extent. The vendor, in nearly all cases, will release patches and hotfixes as needed but it will be incumbent upon the consumer to install them.

Many vendors offer patch and upgrade assistance as part of their services but it typically comes with an extra charge on top of your subscription fee. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, consumers should still follow best practices for securing their instance of the software.

This means setting strong password policies and employing a System Administrator to audit accounts to ensure everyone has the appropriate access levels.

Here are some examples of cool SaaS products.

  • Super Easy CRM
  • NetBot21
  • SugarCRM
  • SEM Rush
  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot
  • vTiger
  • IXL
  • Adobe Express

Next up is the big brother of SaaS known as PaaS.

What is a PaaS?

PaaS stands for Platform as a Service and it provides all the infrastructure needed for consumers to house and run their own applications and websites. Patching of the underlying operating system and server (not system or software) availability are the responsibilities of the vendor.

The consumer is liable for the security and availability of their applications. There are cases where you can have a hybrid of both SaaS and PaaS, however.

For example, you could contract with a SaaS provider like SugarCRM for an on-premise installation of their software to be housed with a PaaS provider like CPanel. In a situation like this, the customer is not responsible for anything other than paying their fees for the services.

Here are some examples of PaaS products.

  • PythonAnywhere - my personal favorite
  • Heroku
  • CPanel
  • Bluehost
  • Rackspace (they also have an IaaS offering)

The biggest brother of the trio, IaaS, is up next!

What is a IaaS?

IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service and it provides all the hardware and technological infrastructure a consumer needs to run their applications and websites. This type of computing service gives consumers the most control as it allows them to provision servers, use different operating systems, set up databases, and just about everything else.

Needless to say, this type of service requires an in-house engineer as you can do some real damage with such granular access to core systems and processes. Proceed with caution when purchasing this type of service because you can rack up a hefty bill if you don't know what you're doing.

Here are some examples of IaaS products.

  • Azure
  • Google Cloud
  • Amazon Web Services - potentially the most expenses, those who have accidentally left an EC2 instance running know what I'm talking about!

If you are building your application from the ground up and want control of nearly every aspect of development, this is the best offer for you. However, given the level of technical knowledge needed, I would not recommend it for someone who is just starting out.

And that's it! These are all the differences between Saas, PaaS, and IaaS. Cloud computing is a great way to save costs on applications and websites. Be sure to scope out your projects thoroughly beforehand to ensure you have a great product without breaking the bank.

Matt Irving is the CEO of Super Easy Tech, LLC.
Matt is the CEO of Super Easy Tech and creator of Super Easy CRM. He is a passionate software engineer, tech blogger, and gamer. Feel free to connect on any of the platforms listed below.

Posted by: Matt Irving on 01/23/2022