What is the difference between IaaS, SaaS and PaaS?
Published March 05,2020 by Tvisha Technologies

What is the difference between IaaS, SaaS and PaaS?

Cloud computing has become the lifeline of all kinds of organizational set-ups- whether big or small. Through cloud computing, organizations can share unlimited virtual resources present in the cloud.

Cloud technology services are of three types:

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

Organizations that plan to move to the cloud platform can use the above services as per their requirements. Each of these services has its own uniqueness, service offerings, and advantages. Organizations, therefore, need to understand the differences between IaaS, SaaS, and Paas, before deciding on which services will suit them best in their organizational set-ups.

Let us have an in-depth understanding of each of the services of IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS. Each section will be explained under the following heads for your understanding and convenience:

1. What is IaaS/SaaS/PaaS
2. The Iaas/SaaS/PaaS delivery model.
3. Examples
4. Applications
5. Advantages

In the end, we will be looking at the differences between Iaas, SaaS, and PaaS

Why Cloud computing?

Before getting into an in-depth understanding of IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, the differences between them, and the quintessential question of IaaS vs PaaS, let us get a quick understanding of the importance of Cloud computing in the current organizational scenario.

Organizations can access and share resources such as networking, servers, databases, and storage through the internet, making the whole process faster, more efficient, cost-effective and flexible. Cloud computing makes it easier for organizations to store, access, manage and process data in an efficient manner.

Simply put, cloud computing is the process of using hardware and software that resides on the cloud, through the mode of the internet, in order to perform various complex organizational activities. In traditional business structures, all the data used to be stored in local machines and hard drives. With cloud computing, all the data is stored in virtual servers provided and maintained by third-party service providers. This also helps in Geo-Replication of data and for disaster recovery.

The third parties will also make software, applications, various infrastructural facilities as well as platforms available on the cloud. These can be accessed by the employees or users through a computer and an internet connection. This is where IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS come into the picture.

Let us now look at an in-detail explanation of the three services, IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS:

What is Iaas?

IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service, as the name suggests, is a cloud technology service, where the IaaS providers make available various infrastructural services on the cloud. For example, the provider hosts infrastructural components such as virtual machines, virtual LANs, networks, storage, hard drives, etc. through virtualization technology.

The IaaS Delivery Model:

The IaaS provider provides his client with either a dashboard or an API, providing access to the end-user to all the services. This way the end-user has complete control over the entire infrastructure.

Along with infrastructural services, the provider will supply accompanying services that support these infrastructural services. Some examples of these services are detailed billing, load balancing, and clustering, log access. In addition to all the above, the IaaS provider will also enable data-storage related services such as data back-up, data replication, and data recovery.

IaaS can be compared to a traditional data center, in the sense that it will provide the end-user with all the infrastructure, technology and capability of a data center. The difference though lays in the fact that the client doesn’t need to spend a huge amount of money to buy and maintain all the infrastructure.

IaaS takes care of setting up a virtual data center and maintaining it for the client. The client, in turn, is completely responsible for their own applications, operating systems, middleware, and data. The client or the buyer rents space on the cloud through the IaaS provider. The IaaS provider, in turn, provides the client with virtual servers and virtual storage. The provider helps the client in building a network around these services. The end-users use their own operating systems and applications on the final platform, thereby cutting additional costs.

Examples of IaaS:

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Google Compute Engine
  • Cisco Metapod
  • Joyent
  • OpenStack

Applications of IaaS:

IaaS is used in the following scenarios in the current business environment:

  • Development environment
  • Testing environment
  • Data storage
  • Data analytics
  • Data warehousing
  • Websites and web applications with a lot of user interactions.

Advantages of IaaS:

IaaS provides many benefits to its clients who are planning to migrate their organization to cloud technologies. Some of the key advantages include:

  • One of the major advantages of IaaS is that the clients do not need any capital upfront, especially for setting up high-level infrastructure. They can simply rent all the infrastructure necessary from the SaaS providers. They can pay as they go, implying that they can simply unsubscribe from services which they no longer need. This makes the arrangement extremely cost-effective for the client.
  • The IaaS also provides the advantage of scalability for the clients meaning that they can upgrade or downgrade services with a simple click of a button.
  • IaaS can help the clients obtain the needed infrastructure, as per their within a short period of time. This will eliminate any time lag in procurement and the organization is able to carry out necessary tests quickly and deliver results on time.
  • IaaS reduces the costs of buying, setting up and managing new and expensive hardware. IaaS services are also available on a subscription basis. All these features help the client cut down on huge upfront expenses.
  • The client and end-user can cut down on the time of setting up and maintaining the infrastructure. This saves a lot of time for the clients, and they can use this time to concentrate on other crucial organizational functions.
  • Clients and end-users get the time to concentrate on more important core activities needed for the organization. As a result, the overall efficiency and output will improve.

What is SaaS:

SaaS or Software as a Service, as the name suggests, is a cloud technology service, where the SaaS provider hosts various applications on the cloud and makes them available to customers over the internet. SaaS is also known as cloud application services and is one of the most commonly used cloud services.

The SaaS provider, apart from making the application available to the end-users, will also be responsible for providing services such as managing the client’s data, storage, and managing the application’s updates. Most of the SaaS applications will run on the web browsers directly. This means that the end-users will just need a computer with an internet connection and a browser to access the applications.

Consequently, business organizations using the SaaS model do not need to hire separate staff for tasks such as downloading, installing, upgrading and managing software on each machine separately. Instead, the staff can concentrate on more pressing and important tasks whole the SaaS provider takes care of all of those issues.

Let us now look at how the SaaS delivery model works. The SaaS provider hosts the applications at one central location. Ie., the cloud on a remote server. The client will pay the provider for all the application related services. The SaaS provider will provide the client with network-based access to a copy of the application. All the end users will then download copies of this application on their machines. In this case, all the end-users will have the same source code of the application. When any changes, updates, new features, etc have to be rolled out, it becomes easy for the SaaS provider as well as the client.

Depending on the agreement between the SaaS provider and the client, the client’s data may be stored either on the local machine or in the cloud or at both the locations.

Through SaaS, organizations can also use the provider’s help to migrate their own applications to the cloud-based system from where the provider will host and continue the maintenance of the applications. SaaS companies follow the latest business metrics to grow their business and provide excellent services to their client.

Applications of SaaS:

In the modern organizational context, the SaaS model can find applications in the following fields:

  • Sales Management.
  • Customer Relationship Management.
  • Sales Management
  • Human Resource Management.
  • Financial Management.
  • Email and collaboration management.

Examples of SaaS:

  • Troop Messenger (Internal Team Messaging Application)
  • Google Apps (Business Collaboration Tools)
  • SalesForce (Cloud Computing Solutions For Business) or (Customer Relationship Management)
  • Cattlecall (enterprise video communications)

Advantages of SaaS:

  • SaaS cuts down the need for the organizations to install, update, run and manage their applications on their networks. The staff can concentrate on more important core activities. This will cut down overall costs and improve the efficiency of the existing workforce.
  • The second advantage of SaaS is the scalability it provides, in the sense that clients can use the services that they need at that particular time, and unsubscribe from unnecessary services. Application installation, updates, and maintenance become easy thereby saving time and money for the organization.
  • Thirdly, since the staff is not concentrating on the mundane and repetitive tasks, they can concentrate on the more important activities, thereby contributing to overall increased output.
  • Since the SaaS model is delivered over the Internet, anyone in any part of the world can access the services with a computer and internet. This advantage is crucial for large organizations that have operations spread all over the world.

What is PaaS:

PaaS or Provider as a Service is a cloud technology service where the service provider provides a platform to the client or the end-user for the purpose of software creation. A PaaS provider will provide platform related infrastructure components such as storage, servers, operating systems, and networking equipment. The Provider is also responsible for configuring and maintaining all the above components. In addition, the providers also provide the client with services such as programming languages, database management systems, libraries, etc

The Paas Delivery Model:

The PaaS provider basically creates a framework that is then used by the developers to develop and maintain the applications. The PaaS provider is entrusted with the responsibility of providing various hardware and software tools to the developers that are hosted on the cloud. The PaaS architecture works in such a way that the infrastructure stays hidden from the developers and the users. The PaaS provider builds an optimized environment and platform for the users to install and run their applications.

The developers and end-users, on their part, access the platform from the cloud through a browser. They need not worry about the nitty-gritty of the platform. Instead, they can fully focus on developing and running the application. PaaS tends to be extremely useful in cases where developers have to work from geographically distant locations on a particular application.

Applications of PaaS:

PaaS can find application in certain kind of scenarios that include:

  • Application designing, development, testing, and deployment
  • Database Integration
  • Web service integration

Examples of PaaS:

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon web services- Elastic Bean Stalk
  • Google App Engine
  • Openshift
  • SalesForce –
  • Cloudways

Advantages of PaaS:

  • The PaaS model provides a simple and cost-effective platform for developers to develop and deploy their applications.
  • Developers can concentrate fully on the application development and deployment, thereby improving the overall performance efficiency.
  • PaaS is especially useful when multiple developers have to work on an application from multiple locations.
  • The PaaS model also provides the developer with various tools and services that help them through the process of app design, development, testing and deployment in an easily accessible manner.
  • Scalability, reduced costs, reduced time-lags, and an overall improved output are among the other advantages of the PaaS model.

What are the differences between IaaS, SaaS and PaaS?

As we have seen above, IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS are three completely different cloud service models that work towards a common goal of supplying infrastructure-both hardware and software – to the clients who need them, as and when the necessity arises. The three models, in their own way, help in improving the overall efficiency of the organizations.

Let us now see the differences between IaaS SaaS and PaaS

  IaaS SaaS PaaS
Full form Infrastructure as a Service Software as a Service Platform as a Service
Also known as Cloud Infrastructure Services Cloud Application Services Cloud Platform Services
Provider manages
(as per the client requirements)
Operating Systems
Run time
Operating system
Client /End-user manages Data
Operating systems
Examples of Applications Development environment
Testing environment
Data storage
Data analytics
Data warehousing
Websites and web applications
Sales Management
Customer Relationship Management
Sales Management
Human Resource Management
Financial Management
Email and collaboration management
Application designing, development
testing deployment
Database Integration
Web service integration
Examples of providers Microsoft Azure
Amazon Web Services
Google Compute Engine
Cisco Metapod
Microsoft Azure
Google Apps
Cisco Webex
Microsoft Azure
Amazon web services- Elastic Bean Stalk
Google App Engine
SalesForce –

Let's look at these cloud technology services, with examples of each.
Hosting providers like Google Compute Engine, Amazon Web Services, Vultr, Linode, DigitalOcean fall under Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS). With virtual servers and ample data centers, they provide the infrastructure for excellent website performance.
Keep in mind that they only provide the hosting, so you'll have to install the front end software or web application yourself. You could also be a remote developer for this, but that means additional charges, of course.

Moving a tier higher, there's PAAS, which offers you both hosting and a platform for front end development. For instance, Cloudways a managed cloud platform lets you choose from a list of IaaS, and then install a web application like WordPress, WooCommerce, Magento, or PHP right from your browser. Here you're paying for hosting and server management, based on a pricing model that perfectly fits your needs.

Then there's SaaS infrastructure where the customer can avail services without having to manage the server or the web application. Google Apps and Salesforce are two top examples of this kind of cloud technology service.


Cloud has changed the way business is conducted these days. The heavy infrastructural expenditure on hardware or software is slowly becoming a thing of the past as more and more enterprises go Cloud. A properly strategized cloud dependence is a great boon for the entrepreneurial community and though it has its own downsides, Cloud is an alternative to the traditional methods of data storage, retrieval, and usage.

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