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IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS - What's the Difference?

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IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS - What's the Difference?

If a business has decided to shift towards cloud computing services, it is essential to understand the basic fundamentals of the subject. Cloud computing is a huge sector and one of the most common technologies used by organizations are IaaS (infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service). All of these technologies have a very high demand in the market. The IaaS provides the entire cloud architecture over the internet. PaaS provides the software and hardware over the internet. SaaS provides third-party software applications to users through the internet.

IaaS PaaS SaaS Comparison Chart

Basis of comparison





It provides the basic architecture like servers, storage, and resources for networking and virtualization facilities.

It provides the developers with the platform for creating and executing their applications without dealing with the hardware issues.

It provides the software to the users that are hosted on the internet and can be accessed from anywhere.


This is the primary layer of the cloud computing model.

This is the layer situated on top of the IaaS layer.

It is the highest level of the cloud model and can be considered as a complete package or product.

Required technical knowledge

Strong technical knowledge is required for handling the services offered by this layer.

The layer provides the user with the basic setup but technical knowledge is still required to operate it. Programming knowledge is necessary to develop and deploy applications.

This is the final product offered by the company and hence no technical knowledge is necessary. The user can easily use the product and technicalities will be handled by the company.

Type of users

Skilled programmers and developers use this layer as the configuration is required.

The developers who have medium skills can handle this layer as they need to focus on the development of applications.

It is popular among users who have little or no technical skills.

Technologies associated

Hard disks, servers, virtual machines, load balancers, networks, etc.

Web servers, Java runtime libraries, Databases like MySQL, Tomcat, etc.

Online accounts on social media like Facebook, Twitter and email accounts like Yahoo and Gmail.

What is SaaS?

SaaS (Software as a Service) is the highest level of the cloud architecture where a third party software distributor hosts their service or applications for the customers. They are usually accessible through an interface that can be operated from the browser. SaaS is associated with the application service providers for delivering the software products. In this model, the application providers give their customers access to the software they have developed. Here only a single copy of the software is provided to each of the customers through a network. The modifications and updates in the applications will be rolled out to all the customers.

The SaaS applications have APIs that can be used to integrate other software tools with these applications. The most popular SaaS providers are Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP, Dropbox etc.

SaaS Advantages

The advantages of SaaS are as follows:

  • The SaaS is a comprehensive software solution that works on a pay as you go model. High-quality software applications can be accessed without purchasing, installing, maintaining any hardware or middleware. To get more features a fee has to be paid for some applications.
  • The user interfaces are easy to use and no additional software has to be installed for most of the applications.
  • The SaaS application data can be accessed from anywhere as it is stored in the cloud. The data is secured and even if the user’s system fails or crashes, the data is not lost.
  • From a business perspective, the SaaS applications are cost efficient as the fee per month is relatively low as compared to other products. The software updates usually cost very less.

What is PaaS?

Platform as a Service is the middle level of the cloud architecture where a platform is provided to the users for making their own applications. The third party PaaS provider hosts the software and hardware on their own architecture. The users do not have to worry about handling the architecture as it is maintained by the third party. Here, simple cloud-based applications to complicated enterprise solutions are developed, tested, executed and updated by the users.

PaaS Advantages

The advantages of PaaS are as follows:

  • The PaaS tools help the developers to reduce their coding time by in-built components like directory services, security features, workflow etc.
  • The user has to pay only for the services they avail.
  • The applications lifecycle is managed properly.
  • Applications can be developed on multiple platforms like mobile and desktops through a browser.

What is IaaS?

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is the architecture that provides users with computing resources through virtualization. The architecture can be scaled up and down according to the demands. It reduces the hassles of managing data centres and physical servers, as all the services will be provided by IaaS. The model is highly scalable. The clients have to handle the middleware, operating systems, and applications data. Some service providers give additional facilities like message queuing.

IaaS Advantages

The advantages of PaaS are as follows:

  • New applications are delivered to users faster as architecture does not have to be set up.
  • Reduces the capital expenditure required for maintaining servers, data centers and other hardware components.
  • As the architectural hassles are avoided, the technologies are developed and scaled up rapidly.
  • As it works on a pay as you go model, the users pay only for the services they avail.
  • With a proper service agreement, the user gets high-security features for protecting their data and applications.


All of the cloud computing models discussed above provide users flexibility, scalability, and affordable payment options. SaaS is the most convenient solution for businesses and other users and most of these solutions are built on IaaS and PaaS. IaaS is beneficial for large enterprises who want complete control over their infrastructure and applications.

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