The Three Cloud Service Models: Characteristics & Advantages

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Cloud Computing Models, Cloud Computing Services, Cloud Computing Services

Cloud Service Models: All You Need To Know About IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) & SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)

The cloud is a hot topic for small businesses all the way to multinational enterprises, but still a wide phrase that covers a lot of the online space. Cloud Space is quite a big deal in the modern century and is relied upon by almost every big corporation. The reason why the cloud is so important is that the cloud allows applications and services to run on the internet, instead of locally on a single device. This is possible because the data is kept remotely across a range of different servers.

In this blog I will cover the following concepts to help you broaden your understanding of the cloud and grant you some insight to better plan and choose a service that fits the needs of your client or business:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • SaaS (Software as a Service)

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS stand for the three primary categories of cloud computing or cloud hosting models. Cloud computing is the technique of employing a network of diverse servers that host, store, manage, and analyze data online or ‘in the cloud’.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS technologies allow enterprises to manage their business resources — such as their network, servers, and data storage.

The IaaS Cloud Hosting Model involves a method for delivering everything from operating systems to servers and storage through IP-based connectivity as part of an on-demand service. Clients can avoid the need to purchase software or servers, and instead procure these resources in an outsourced, on-demand service.

The IaaS model provides the lowest-level control of resources in the cloud when compared to other cloud hosting models such as SaaS and PaaS. IaaS takes away or abstracts the physical compute, network, storage, and technology needed to virtualize those resources. One characteristic of the IaaS model is that the hosting comes with less vendor-managed services and more client-managed services than PaaS and SaaS. Furthermore, IaaS is not as scalable as infrastructures like FaaS and requires a capable developer to manage the IaaS system which makes it a bit of a hard sell for smaller organizations or organizations without the skill to operate it.

Some examples of IaaS services are:

  • DigitalOcean
  • Linode
  • Rackspace
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Cisco Metapod
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Compute Engine (GCE)

The advantages of an IaaS model are:

  • It is the most versatile cloud computing model.
  • Highly scalable
  • Resources can be acquired as needed.
  • Resources can be acquired as needed.
  • Hardware purchases can be based on consumption
  • Easy to automate the deployment of storage, networking, servers, and processing power

When to Use IaaS?

  • Larger firms may choose to retain complete control over their apps and infrastructure, but they want to purchase only what they really consume or require rather than pay for resources that aren’t in use.
  • Companies experiencing rapid growth or expansion may prefer the scalability that the IaaS cloud model offers, and they may change out individual hardware and software easily as their needs expand.
  • Start-ups and small organizations with skilled developers may use IaaS to avoid spending time and money on procuring and creating hardware and software.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS products allow businesses and developers to host, build, and deploy consumer-facing apps. PaaS provides a foundation for developers that they can build upon and use to create customized apps. All servers, storage, and networking are maintained by the organization or a third-party supplier while the developers can maintain the administration of their apps.

PaaS is considered the most complex of the three layers of cloud-based computing. PaaS shares some similarities with SaaS with the primary difference being that instead of delivering software online, it is a platform for creating software that is delivered via the Internet.

PaaS includes everything IaaS does, while also providing middleware infrastructure, the operating system, and runtime. Therefore, it is a more complete package than the IaaS infrastructure but still not as complete a package as with SaaS. With PaaS, you are abstracted from the lower-level details of the environment, and you use the platform to develop and deploy your applications.

Some Examples of PaaS Include The Following:

The advantages of a PaaS model are:

  • Cost-effect method to build and deploy apps
  • Scalable to your needs
  • Offers high availability
  • Allows for easy migration to a hybrid model later on
  • Huge reduction in the amount of coding required
  • Developers can customize their programs without the worry of maintaining the software.

When To Use PaaS?

PaaS can streamline operations when many developers are working on the same development project. If the project requires other providers to be incorporated, PaaS can bring considerable speed and flexibility to the entire process. PaaS is particularly handy if the aim is to construct custom applications.

This cloud service model can also considerably cut expenses and simplify some issues that come up if you are trying to get a project or app to market ASAP.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS solutions are among the most widely utilized cloud computing services for organizations to grow and develop their business. SaaS is easy to use and maintain, and it’s very scalable. SaaS leverages the internet to provide apps, which are managed by a third-party vendor, to its consumers. The majority of SaaS services run entirely within your web browser, requiring no client-side downloads or installs.

SaaS Involves the licensure of a software application to customers. Licenses are typically provided through a pay-as-you-go model or on-demand payment model. This will also be managed by the service provider rather than requiring a full-on IT department.

SaaS provides a complete software solution that you subscribe to on a pay-as-you-go basis from a cloud service provider. You rent the use of an app for your organization, and your users connect to it over the Internet, usually with a web browser. All the underlying infrastructure such as the middleware, app software, and app data are located in the service provider’s data center.

The service provider manages the hardware and software and will handle all the technical issues that may arise to guarantee the availability and the security of the app and your data. SaaS allows your organization to get quickly up and running with an app at minimal upfront cost. The major downside to SaaS is that some vendors make it easy to join and use their service but difficult to get out of it or transfer to a different service provider.

SaaS includes both PaaS and IaaS which means it has all the advantages of both as well as extra features.

Some Examples of SaaS Include The Following:

  • BigCommerce
  • Google Workspace
  • Cisco
  • Salesforce
  • GoToMeeting
  • Dropbox
  • MailChimp
  • ZenDesk
  • WebEx
  • Slack
  • Hubspot

The advantages of a SaaS model are:

  • Reduce the time & money required for installing & developing a software
  • Time saved can be invested elsewhere. This allows for the business to focus on its core objectives rather than worry about its software.
  • Software is accessible over the internet
  • Users not responsible for hardware or software updates
  • Hosted on a remote server
  • Managed from a central location

When To Use SaaS?

  • SaaS is ideal for startups or small companies that need to launch an eCommerce store quickly and don’t have time, skill, or the money for configuring servers, debugging software issues, or paying for a team of developers.
  • Short-term projects that need a quick, easy, and affordable collaboration solution.
  • Applications that aren’t a ‘core’ aspect and aren’t used often enough to justify developing your own.
  • Applications that need to be accessed via mobile and web.

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