SaaS? PaaS? IaaS? What do these actually mean? Can anything be “aaS”? Is this just a bunch of meaningless alphabet soup?
No, actually. These three cloud computing terms and what they mean are a pretty big deal. According to Gartner research, the 2009 worldwide market for cloud solutions was $56.3 billion worldwide. This year it’s expected to grow to $150.1 billion.
For starters, cloud computing does not describe one single service, as an article from Rackspace explains. It’s a term that covers a variety of services, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
With this in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of these services — what they mean and examples of vendors for each. After reading this, you should be in a much better place to understand these different cloud computing terms and how you can evaluate a solution that best fits your needs.
- SaaS: Software-as-a-Service is the most common and mature cloud-based solution. In essence, a vendor supplies software, hardware and delivery to the customer through a network, usually the Internet. Typical applications offered as a service include customer relationship management, business intelligence analytics and online accounting software.
A new infographic from cloud provider ProfitBricks suggests that Salesforce.com, which was founded in 1999, was the first SaaS offering built from scratch that achieved rapid growth. Oracle is another example of a SaaS provider.
- PaaS: Platform-as-a-Service is not as well-known as SaaS. The main difference between the two is that PaaS isn’t software that’s delivered over the web. Instead, as the Rackspace article explains, “it is a platform for the creation of software, delivered over the web.”
According to CRM Search, PaaS is a “complete ready-to-run framework or environment from the vendor,” which is usually used for developing web applications. In other words, it’s a packaged and ready-to-run development or operating framework. The PaaS vendor provides the networks, servers and storage, and manages the levels of scalability and maintenance. The client typically pays for services used.
Apprenda, a cloud provider, explains that PaaS companies are “sometimes referred to as cloud middleware providers, since their services make up the middle layer” of the three kinds of cloud services. The Forbes article aptly describes it: “The platform handles all the gritty details that system administrators usually handle and lets the developer focus on the software. … You could compare this to buying a piece of furniture at IKEA, lugging it home and then figuring out how to put it together, versus buying it online and having it delivered and set up in your living room.”
Examples of PaaS providers include Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure Services.
- IaaS: Infrastructure-as-a-Service is the third kind of cloud-based solution. A Clouds360.com article reports that, with IaaS, customers use the provider’s facilities for computing cycles and storage. In other words, IaaS is a model where service providers offer pools of abstract IT infrastructure such as servers, storage and network components to customers on a pay-per-usage model. “The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, cooling operation and maintenance,” the ProfitBricks infographic states.
The major difference between PaaS and IaaS is the amount of control that users have. In essence, PaaS allows vendors to manage everything while IaaS requires more management on behalf of the internal IT department. Generally speaking, organizations that have already written a lot of code or already have a software package they want to install and run in the cloud should opt to use IaaS instead of PaaS.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a popular example of a large IaaS provider. Other examples include Bluelock, Joyent and NaviSite.
When all is said and done, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS are incredibly important for today’s business leaders to understand and employ. The three cloud models have their own advantages, disadvantages, risks, opportunities and value. Understanding the differences between the three cloud computing terms is vital to choosing the best solution for your organization.
By Whitney Vickrey, from: http://www.gcecloud.com/blog/cloud-saas-accounting-trends-blog/what-do-the-cloud-computing-terms-saas-paas-and-iaas-actually-mean?utm_source=GCE+Master+List&utm_campaign=fd11ab1f67-2013-12-03_Email_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_305493c0cf-fd11ab1f67-87841281