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Table of contents
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Advantages Of IaaS
Disadvantages Of IaaS
When to Use IaaS?
IaaS Examples 
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Advantages Of PaaS
Disadvantages Of PaaS
When To Use PaaS?
PaaS Examples
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Advantages Of SaaS
Disadvantages Of SaaS
When to Use SaaS?
SaaS Examples
IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS
Key Takeaways 
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Iaas Vs Paas Vs Saas

Author Alisha Chhabra
Master Python: Predicting weather forecasts
Ashwin Goyal
Product Manager @


If you're thinking about moving your eCommerce business to the Cloud, here are three important acronyms to remember: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. There are many more XaaS service models, but IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are the most basic cloud service models. You've probably heard of them; they're all gaining popularity as more businesses migrate to the Cloud. They are under the category of service models of cloud computing. As the name suggests, they provide some sort of service to their clients in terms of management, scalability, reliability, security, storage, portability, resources, and many more. Which one to choose at what time is really important to understand for every individual who is running their business or planning to do so. 

You’ll be surprised to know the popularity of these models amongst today’s deployed businesses: 

  • IaaS has a market share of around 12%. (up from 6 percent).
  • PaaS is currently the most popular model, with a market share of around 32% and a projected increase in 2020.
  • SaaS accounts for roughly 24% of all enterprise workloads (up from 14 percent in 2016).

With adoption rates like these, cloud computing is quickly becoming the norm, and many businesses are abandoning on-premise software entirely. This now must make you more curious about today’s discussion.

When compared to on-premises hardware and software, cloud-based solutions – IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS provide several significant advantages. Let us go over these advantages briefly in order to understand why cloud computing is so popular today.


On-premises solutions are difficult to scale because the type of hardware required is determined by the demands of your application. If your app receives a lot of traffic, you may need to significantly upgrade your on-premises hardware. This issue does not exist with cloud services, which can be quickly scaled up or down with a few clicks. Cloud services are an excellent solution for dealing with peak loads. Businesses can use whatever computing resources they require with cloud-based services. 


Cloud computing eliminates hardware costs because the hardware is provided by a vendor. There is no need to purchase, install, configure, or maintain servers, databases, or other runtime environment components. Furthermore, with cloud-based solutions, you only pay for what you use, so if you don't need extra resources, you can simply scale down and avoid paying for them. It is also referred to as pay as you go.


Cloud providers outfit their data centers with a high-performance computing infrastructure that ensures your applications have low network latency. Low latency refers to a computer network that is designed to handle a high volume of data messages with minimal delay (latency). These networks are intended to support operations that necessitate near-real-time access to constantly changing data.


Cloud solutions are immediately available after payment, so you can begin using a cloud service without wasting any time. It is not necessary to install or configure hardware.


To ensure the highest level of security, cloud infrastructure is housed in secure data centers. Data is backed up and easily recoverable. Furthermore, cloud vendors protect your data by employing network firewalls, encryption, and sophisticated tools for detecting cybercrime and fraud.

Now, this has surely made one thing clear as a user and manager, you bear the most responsibility for on-premise IT infrastructure. When your hardware and software are all on-premises, you and your team are responsible for managing, updating, and replacing each component as needed. Cloud computing allows you to delegate the management of one, several, or all of your infrastructure to a third party, freeing you up to focus on other things like your code and your relationships with your customers. 

There are three types of cloud computing as-a-service options, each with a different level of management: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)(the base layer), platform-as-a-service (PaaS)( the intermediate layer), and software-as-a-service (SaaS)(the topmost layer). 


Customers are able to focus more of their attention on business rather than managing their IT infrastructure thanks to higher levels of abstraction. Let's look at each of these service models in more detail:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS, or infrastructure-as-a-service, is a step away from on-premises infrastructure. It is a pay-as-you-go service in which a third party provides you with infrastructure services such as storage and virtualization as you require them, via a cloud and the internet. 

For example, when the owner rents out their home to a needy person without furnishing it. Only the infrastructure is provided, and the client is responsible for the duration of their stay. Likewise, IaaS provides infrastructure services to their clients. The operating system and any data, applications, middleware, and runtimes are your responsibility as the user, but a provider gives you access to and management of the network, servers, virtualization, and storage you require. 

To be precise, the vendor manages the hardware infrastructure and the customer's IT staff installs, runs, and manages the operating systems, software, and data.

Advantages Of IaaS

  • Useful in applications with a highly variable workload that require the IT infrastructure to scale up and down in response to demand. 
  • Ideal for enterprises that want to exercise some control and administration over their applications and data.
  • There is little risk of vendor lock-in.
  • The platforms and services provided by IaaS are adaptable, scalable, and dynamic.
  • Companies gain complete control over their infrastructure.
  • The cost varies according to usage.
  • One piece of hardware can be accessed by multiple users.
  • IaaS services are reasonably priced.

Disadvantages Of IaaS

  • In a multi-tenant environment, virtual machines (VMs) may be vulnerable to security breaches. 
  • The workforce may require additional training to learn how to manage IaaS. 
  • Bills for high workload computing may be high.

When to Use IaaS?

Startups and small businesses may prefer IaaS to save time and money on purchasing and developing hardware and software.

Larger organizations may prefer to retain complete control over their applications and infrastructure, but they also want to buy only what they consume or require.

Companies experiencing rapid growth appreciate the scalability of IaaS, and they can easily swap out specific hardware and software as their needs change.

IaaS Examples 

The following are ten companies that offer IaaS platforms for a variety of business needs (some also offer PaaS or SaaS models):

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Compute Engine (GCE)
  • IBM Cloud
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Rackspace
  • Linode
  • Cisco Metacloud
  • Digital Ocean
  • Vultr
  • Oracle Cloud
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Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service is the next level up in the IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS hierarchy. PaaS is difficult to define in a few sentences; think of it as a tool for developing applications and products online. It could be middleware, database administration, or analytics. It enables developers to create custom online applications without having to deal with data serving and storage. 

The main benefit of using PaaS is that developers can easily deploy large applications without having to download or purchase the necessary infrastructure. Instead, everything – servers, databases, operating systems, and so on – can be done online.

In PaaS, the vendor provides the client with a complete application development environment, allowing them to develop and manage applications without having to build time-consuming development environments.  

Advantages Of PaaS

  • It gives administrators extensive control over the platform software and the applications built with it.
  • These cloud services frequently allow and support multiple programming languages, allowing developers to work on a variety of projects.

Disadvantages Of PaaS

  • You only have control over what is built on the platform, and if there is a power outage, the software will be lost.
  • Charges may be unpredictable, especially as the service expands.
  • You have less flexibility and control over your customers.
  • To get the most out of PaaS, you may need some basic coding knowledge.

When To Use PaaS?

When multiple developers are working on the same development project, PaaS can help to streamline workflows. If other vendors must be included, PaaS can greatly accelerate and adapt the entire process. PaaS is especially useful if you need to develop customized applications.

PaaS Examples

Popular examples of PaaS include:

  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • Windows Azure
  • Heroku
  • Google App Engine
  • OpenShift 

Software as a Service (SaaS)

In the cloud market, Software as a Service, also known as cloud application services, is the most commonly used option for businesses. SaaS uses the internet to deliver applications to users that are managed by a third-party vendor. The majority of SaaS applications run directly through your web browser, so no downloads or installations are required on the client-side.

SaaS is extremely simple to use and manage, and it is also easily scalable. You can use it on multiple devices without installing it; instead, you can easily deploy it to your team or employees. It's an excellent tool for managing and coordinating global teams of freelancers or employees.

Advantages Of SaaS

  • You don't need to install anything because it's already in your browser. The only thing left to do is sign in. There are also mobile apps available.
  • You can access the software from any device, and you only need to log in from every device.
  • Everyone on your team or associates will be able to use the software without having to download it. Everyone on the team will be able to sign in and use the software.

Disadvantages Of SaaS

You have no control over the infrastructure on which the software operates. You rely on it if there is an outage.

When to Use SaaS?

SaaS may be the best option in a variety of situations, including:

  • Startups or small businesses that need to launch e-commerce quickly and don't have time to deal with server issues or software issues.
  • Short-term projects that necessitate quick, simple, and low-cost collaboration
  • Apps that require both web and mobile access

SaaS Examples

Popular examples of SaaS include:

  • Google Workspace (formerly GSuite)
  • Dropbox
  • Salesforce
  • Cisco WebEx
  • SAP Concur
  • GoToMeeting


Now that we’ve walked through each of these service models, it’s time to discuss the major differences between them:

Source: Inventions

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS

To better understand them, we can compare the three terms to modes of transportation. IaaS is similar to renting a car. You do not own it, but you have the option to upgrade or change cars whenever you want.


PaaS is similar to taking a taxi in that you tell the driver where you want to go but do not drive the car yourself. 

SaaS can be compared to public transportation, which has pre-determined routes and combines rides with other people. 

Now, let us look at the main differences between them:

Unlike traditional solutions, which require you to manage your own IT infrastructure and in-house software, IaaS allows you to pay as you go for storage, networking, and virtualization. Furthermore, PaaS includes additional services such as web-based hardware and software development tools. And, by "renting" full software solutions through SaaS, you get the highest level of vendor management.

The "As-a-Service" diagram below depicts the differences between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, as well as the level of vendor management provided by each service model.

Parameter  IaaS PaaS SaaS
Full-Form Infrastructure as a Service  Platform as a Service  Software as a Service
Users  System Managers Developers and Deployers Business Users
Abstraction  Abstraction of underlying hardware resources Abstraction of the underlying minimal hardware, software, and application services. Complete Abstraction
Control Minimal degree of control and flexibility  Intermediate degree of control and flexibility Highest degree of control and flexibility
Operational Expenses Highest Lower Minimal 
Risk of vendor In-lock Lowest Medium Highest
Portability Highest Lower No portability at all. 
Examples  Amazon EC2, Go Grid Azure Service platform,, Paypal, Gmail



  1. What are the use-cases of the IaaS model?
    Disaster recovery, Cloud bursting, Automated scaling and cluster management or High-performance computing (HPC), and Big Data analytics. 
  2. What exactly can a client expect from the PaaS model?
    PaaS provides a predefined and ready-to-use set of building blocks for composable applications, such as middleware, application servers, and development tools. PaaS enables your developers to spend more time developing the application while the provider manages the infrastructure.
  3. Is Amazon AWS a Platform as a Service (PaaS)?
    Not only PaaS, but AWS (Amazon Web Services) also is a comprehensive, ever-evolving cloud computing platform offered by Amazon that includes infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and packaged software as a service (SaaS) offerings.
  4. Is YouTube a type of cloud service?
    According to Thomas Kurian, Google's cloud division leader, parts of YouTube are moving to the Google Cloud Platform. Along with other top Google properties such as its eponymous search engine, the popular video app has run on Google's own infrastructure separate from its cloud.
  5. What are the distinctions between cloud computing and distributed computing?
    Cloud computing enables remote access to hardware and software resources via the network. It offers benefits such as easy resource sharing, cost savings, scalability, and platform independence. A distributed computing network, on the other hand, is a network that uses multiple computers to accomplish a task. Each computer in the network is responsible for a portion of the overall tasks. This method allows for faster results than using a single computer. It has benefits such as scalability, redundancy, and resource sharing.

Key Takeaways 

In this article, we’ve extensively discussed the service models of Cloud Computing. We’ve also discussed how Cloud Computing is taking its place all over the world by entirely cutting out the traditional methods of running applications and business processes. Which service is the best is directly proportional to your need. There’s always a tradeoff between the services. So, choose wisely and grow your business to the next level. 

To enhance your understanding of the field of Cloud Computing check out more articles: Introduction to Cloud-Computing, Introduction to Cloud Security, and many more. 

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