IaaS, PaaS, & SaaS: What is the Difference?

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS

Stepping into the world of Cloud can be quite daunting and confusing. But don’t worry, it’s not! It’s simply a ton of industry lingo, that has been made to put a barrier between You, the end user, and the providers of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Let’s start out with a high-level overview:

What is the cloud?

The cloud is simply how and where data is stored & lives. The cloud is no different than a local on-premise server room, only that it is not located at your property. It gives you the ability to store, secure, scale and access your data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. By using the cloud you are offloading all the additional expenses:

  • No large upfront CapEx for servers
  • Removes the downtime that it takes to set up a new server
  • Lower OpEx by removing, the rent of physical space, lower your support staff, reduce your utilities bill and more!

This should give you a very simplistic idea of the cloud, if you still want to learn more, continue reading as we discuss the difference between IaaS, Paas, and SaaS.

There are three main categories for cloud services, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).


Infrastructure as a Service is the first step of using the cloud. IaaS refers to the cloud as the set up of your servers. It is simply your technology infrastructure living in a cloud location.

What does it do?

IaaS helps companies build, scale, protect, and manage their data as they grow while using a pay as you use service. This means that as business build hardware, software, and other applications, they are quickly able to set up the servers, databases, load balancers, auto-scaling policies, and more in a matter of minutes rather than the matter of weeks if not months.

  • Amazon Web Services was the first IaaS model that became mainstream in 2006 when they released the AWS EC2 instances.

By using IaaS you are getting the greatest level of access and control over your entire business’s digital landscape. You will be responsible for managing and ensuring the installation of the proper load balancers and have the right server sizes selected for your needs. IaaS makes sense to use because of the efficiencies that will come and you only pay for what you use! Meaning you don’t have servers sitting around collecting dust and costing you money.



Platform as a Service is a cloud-based service that provides develops a framework that they can use to develop applications. In English: developers can use pre-established environments or containers to develop quickly, rather than creating that platform from scratch each time.

What does it do?

There are Large Varieties and different approaches to PaaS. You can range from:

  • Organizations define the resources needed for the application and request the service providers to provide that platform. This allows users to use configuring and automation to control the behavior of the platform, set up desired features and backups.
  • Great for organizations developing microservices. PaaS allows developers to quickly spin up a development environment and get to work.

The benefit of PaaS is that it provides IT admins with access to control what platform the app is built upon. Except you are limited to what the Platform provides. However, you face the same limitations when developing on your local environment, as the framework of languages all have specific limitations.


Software as a Service refers to cloud-based software “Web & now Mobile Applications” that you only access via the internet.

What does it do?

SaaS is as simple as it sounds. In the late 90’s and early 00’s we would install software directly to our computers, everything would store locally, or on our business’s intranet. Software as a service is a cloud-based software! Meaning you can access the Web App from anywhere with an internet connection. Your data lives securely on the cloud and you get all the benefits of using a prebuilt software.

The benefits are endless with SaaS solutions. If the SaaS fulfills your need, there is no need to create a custom solution. You’ll simply pay the monthly or yearly license and you’re good to go!

I hope this gave some insight into the difference between IaaS, PaaS, & SaaS!

IaaS – The virtual devices that your application lives on and the components that make it possible

PaaS – A premade platform that allows you to quickly develop

SaaS – Cloud hosted software


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