How to Choose Between SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

When you’re choosing what kind of software solutions to implement for your professional organization, it’s critical to understand exactly what you need and why you need it. Some companies have complex problems that require innovative and complicated solutions. Others have simpler missions, with smaller problem sets to tackle. 

When you’re looking to identify the right kind of IT solution for your business, you’ll want to understand the different options available to you. There are three terms you may hear that help address commonly held IT challenges, and those are: 

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

While these three concepts are somewhat related, each one represents a different kind of solution. Understanding what all three are and how they differ will help you select the right one for your organization. This is important, as the amount of budgeting dedicated to implementing and managing each one can vary wildly. 

Let’s take a closer look at defining SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, and then determine how to choose the right one for your team. 

What Is SaaS? 

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications rely on an internet connection to deliver cloud computing services to organizations or individuals using them. You typically access these applications via an internet browser, meaning you do not have to install any software to use them. This makes implementing a SaaS solution much easier than the alternative, as there’s no need to worry about time-consuming installation processes. You connect your team to the internet and you are ready to go. 

SaaS tools provide its users with the ability to access a specific service via the cloud. Some examples of the types of SaaS applications are listed below: 

  • Communication. Tools like Slack offer instant messaging as well as videocalling for team members who want to connect. 
  • File storage. Dropbox is one example of a file storage software that operates on the cloud. 
  • Customer Relationship Management. No matter what you use CRM software for, applications such as Salesforce operate as SaaS applications.

What Is PaaS? 

Platform as a Service (PaaS) applications provide developers with a place to build their own applications. Much like SaaS, a PaaS solution usually relies on internet connections. The big difference is in what type of service the application offers once its users are connected to it.

SaaS applications give their users the ability to perform tasks or functions. PaaS applications allow their users to actually build other apps (many of which may be SaaS solutions). The vendor provides their own software as the infrastructure on which the developer constructs their app. 

It’s advantageous to software developers, as it empowers them with the tools they need to write code, create their app, and then monitor the app’s performance. But they can then avoid having to update the software that they’re using to build. Examples of PaaS solutions include Heroku or Google App Engine. 

What Is IaaS? 

Finally, there’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Like PaaS or SaaS, IaaS solutions operate in a cloud environment. IaaS allows you more control over your operating environment, however. 

IaaS solutions give you the ability to manage your data infrastructure virtually. The IaaS servers store your networks, operating systems, and data in a virtual environment without having the hassle of a physical, hardware-based location. 

IaaS applications also typically come with a dashboard that allows you to monitor the health and performance of your various resources. Examples of IaaS solutions include Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. 

The advantage of IaaS? You don’t have to rely on an outside provider for anything beyond hardware. Your entire infrastructure is managed on the cloud. The downside is if your IaaS service provider has security problems – it has the potential to impact your networks, applications, and anything within your organization’s IT infrastructure. 

SaaS, PaaS or IaaS: Which One to Choose?

While all three application types have similarities, it should be clear how they differ as well. SaaS applications are only at the software-level, while PaaS applications enable you to build various types of software. Meanwhile, IaaS solutions are where you’d house your platform and any software supporting it. 

The type of solution you’d want depends on the type of organization you operate. For example, let’s say you’re looking to build a monthly subscription service application and you need somewhere to build it. PaaS would be the way to go. 

If your business requires a single solution for a problem that could be solved by a piece of software, SaaS is a better choice. If you need collaboration software like Mural or LucidSpark to help your team work together better, you could simply purchase licenses for those applications rather than other solutions with more operations involved. SaaS solutions are often tied to a specific use case, with a single resource solving the problem. 

Finally, if you’re looking to establish a comprehensive cloud management solution to manage your entire company’s network, IaaS is the right option. This one is generally the most involved and offers you the most control over your operating environment. 

You may have needs that require some or all of the capabilities afforded by each type of application. Beyond just identifying the business issue you’re trying to address, you’ll also want to consider your budget and available resources. There are affordable options for all three different kinds of applications, but the level of service you need will likely increase the price. 

Ultimately, finding the right solution is directly tied to what your organization wants to deliver to your customers as a result of using the application. Once you’ve selected the right IT solution for you, it’s then crucial to implement it correctly in a way that fosters optimal adoption for your team.

If you need help navigating this, look no further than the Provato Group. With our years of experience and subject matter expertise helping organizations manage their IT resources and operations, we can help you choose the right IT solution and get your team up to speed quickly. 

Related Blog Articles