Cloud Service Models Compared: IaaS, PaaS & SaaS
Cloud computing has been dominating the business discussions across the world as it is consumed by the whole business ecosystem and serves both small and large enterprises. Companies are faced with a choice between three predominant models of cloud deployment when adopting the technology for their business. A company may select from SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS models based on their needs and the capabilities of cloud service models. Each model has inherent advantages and characteristics.
SaaS (Software as A Service)
SaaS service models have captured the largest share in the cloud world. In SaaS, third-party service providers deliver applications while the access to them is granted to a client through a Web interface. The cloud service provider manages everything including hardware, data, networking, runtime, data, middleware, operating systems, and applications. Some SaaS services that are popular in the business world are Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Dropbox, Google Apps, and Cisco WebEx.
Service Delivery: A SaaS application is made available over the Web and can be installed on-premise or can be executed right from the browser, depending upon the application. As opposed to traditional software, SaaS-based software is delivered predominantly in subscription-based pricing. While popular end-user applications such as Dropbox and MS Office Apps offer a free trial for a limited period, their extended usage, integrations, and customer support could come at a nominal subscription cost.
How to identify if it is SaaS? If everything is being managed from a centralized location on a cloud platform by your service provider, and your application is hosted on a remote server to which you are given the access through Web-based connectivity, then it is likely to be SaaS.
Benefits: The cost of licensing is less in this model, and it also provides a mobility advantage to the workforce as the applications can be accessed from anywhere using the Web2. In this model, everything at the back-end is taken care of by the service provider while the client can use the features of specific applications. If there are any technical issues faced in infrastructure, the client can depend on the service provider to remove them.
When to Choose? You can choose this model if you do not want to take the burden of managing your IT infrastructure as well as the platform, and only want to focus on the respective application and services. You can pass on the laborious work of installation, upgrading, and management to the third-party companies that have expertise in public cloud management.
PaaS (Platform as A Service)
In the PaaS service model, the third-party service provider delivers software components and the framework to build applications while clients can take care of the development of the application. Such a framework allows companies to develop custom applications over the platform that is served. In this model, the service provider can manage servers, virtualization, storage, software, and networking while developers are allowed to develop customized applications. PaaS model can work with both private cloud and public cloud.
Service Delivery: A middleware is built into the model which can be used by developers. The developer does not need to do hard coding from scratch as the platform provides the libraries. This reduces the development time and enhances the productivity of an application developer enabling companies to reduce time-to-market.
How to identify if it is PaaS? If you are using integrated databases, have resources made available that can quickly scale, and you have access to many different cloud services to help you in developing, testing, and deploying applications, it is PaaS.
Benefits: The processes of development and testing are both cost-effective and fast. PaaS model delivers an operating environment and some on-demand services such as CRM, ERP, and Web conferencing. With PaaS, you can also enjoy additional microservices to enhance your run-time quality. Additional services can also be availed such as directory, workflow, security, and scheduling. Other benefits of using this service model include cross-platform development, built-in components, no licensing cost, and efficient application Lifecycle management.
When to Choose? PaaS is most suited if you want to create your application but need others to maintain the platform for you. When your developers need creative freedom to build highly customized applications and require you to provide tools for development, this would be the model to select.
IaaS (Infrastructure as A Service)
In this cloud service model, datacenter infrastructure components are provided including servers, virtualization, storage, software, and networking. This is a pay-as-you-go model which provides access to all services that can be utilized as per your needs. IaaS is like renting space and infrastructure components from a cloud service provider using a subscription model.
Service Delivery: The infrastructure can be managed remotely by a client. On this infrastructure, companies can install their own platforms and do the development. Some popular examples of IaaS service models are Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Compute Engine (GCE).
How to identify if it is IaaS? If you have all the resources available as a service, your cost of operation is relative to your consumption, and you have complete control over your infrastructure, it is IaaS.
Benefits: A company need not invest heavily in infrastructure deployment but can use virtual data centers. A major advantage of this service model is that with it, a single API (Application Programming Interface) can be used to access services from multiple cloud providers. A virtualized interface can be used over pre-configured hardware, and platforms can be installed by a client. IaaS service providers also give you security features for the management of your infrastructure through licensing agreements.
When to Choose? IaaS service model is most useful when you are starting a company and need hardware and software setups for your company. You may not commit to specific hardware or software but can enjoy the freedom of scaling up anytime you need with this deployment.
You can choose between the three models depending on your business needs and availability of resources to manage things. Irrespective of the model you choose, cloud datacenter does provide you a great cost advantage and flexibility with experts to back you in difficult times. Your choice of the cloud service model would affect the level of control you have over your infrastructure and applications. Depending on the needs of your business, you can select a model after a careful evaluation of the benefits of each of the cloud service models.
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