IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS Examples, Guide

Cloud computing services have become a major thing for both individuals and companies. With the cloud, you no longer have to store data on a personal computer. Instead, you have access to various remote servers that allow you to store them online. With that being said, we come to IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Digital experts love to compare IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS. These are the three foundations (or categories, if you will) of cloud computing. The main advantage of these services is that they provide a certain level of automation to your process. They increase entrepreneurs’ speed, profitability, productivity while also being reliable and secure.

In this article, we will talk a bit more about IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS and how they compare to each other.

What are IaaS, PaaS and SaaS?

If you’re a digital marketing entrepreneur, you probably rely on IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS on a daily basis. In fact, there is a good chance you utilize several services each day. Here are some of the main differences between these concepts:

IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS is the most encompassing of these 3 concepts. With it, you get access to a whole infrastructure that you can use on a daily basis. IaaS provides better management of resources such as servers, networks, and data storage.

PaaS or Platform as a Service

When you pay for PaaS, you get a whole platform at your disposal. With this type of product, you will be able to host, build, and deploy various apps. 

SaaS or Software as a Service

This is the simplest and most common out of the three. SaaS gives you software that you can use online for accomplishing various goals.

The great thing about these concepts is that you can use them from any place, at any time, as long as you have an internet connection. You don’t need a specific browser or any other requirement of that sort.

What’s even better is that these services are tailor-made for big teams. All employees are able to see the same sheets and docs as long as they have access to them.  You don’t have to pass them around. Furthermore, you’re not limited by the restrictions of the local server, and instead, you are able to access this data from remote locations.

Best examples of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS

Understanding the differences between PaaS vs. SaaS or IaaS vs. PaaS can be confusing for people with limited experience. So, here are a few examples of these services:

Popular SaaS products

MailChimp, DocuSign, Slack, Google Apps, GoToMeeting, Dropbox, Cisco WebEx, Concur, BigCommerce, Hubspot, ZenDesk, Jira.

Popular PaaS products

AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Apache Stratos, Windows Azure, Force.com, OpenShift, Magneto Commerce Cloud, Red Hat OpenShift.

Popular IaaS products

AWS EC2, Google Compute Engine, Linode, Rackspace, Digital Ocean, Cisco Metapod, Amazon Web Services.

What is SaaS?

SaaS is often referred to as cloud application services. By relying on the internet, a provider is able to deliver service directly to a client’s computer. The great thing about SaaS is that, in most cases, you don’t have to download new programs or apps. All you need to do is open a new tab in your browser.

SaaS products are very versatile. You can use them to share files, manage emails, streamline business relationships, etc. They have seemingly unlimited potential and usage. For example, SaaS can help OTT platform providers become more flexible and responsive in their daily operations.  

SaaS advantages

As mentioned, the main reason why you should use these products is that they’re easily accessible. You don’t need a lot of time to set them up, and you can use them from other devices and internet cafes. However, if you’re a part of a team, you will need permission to access them. Here are some of the main benefits when using SaaS:

·         You don’t have to worry about managing or upgrading the software. As long as you pay monthly fees, you will get the latest version according to your plan.

  • Nowadays, SaaS products are so popular and widespread, you don’t need to perform additional research before purchasing one. For example, if you need software to communicate with other team members, all you need to do is install Zoom.
  • Some of these products provide amazing value, and they might be free or freemium.
  • You won’t have to waste resources on your server.
  • Given that these products are managed by their respective providers, your IT team won’t have to waste time on them.

SaaS disadvantages

Although SaaS seems like an optimal solution to most of your problems, they do come with certain issues. First off, you don’t have any control over this infrastructure. You can be cut off at any time, potentially endangering all your operations. Here are some other issues you might potentially encounter when working with SaaS.

  • You might encounter certain incompatibility issues. A new SaaS product might not work with other software that your company already employs.
  • Although most SaaS providers pay close attention to security, you are still exposed to security breaches. This is especially dangerous for companies that can implement better security measures than the SaaS provider.
  • You cannot control integrations.

If you compare SaaS vs. PaaS or SaaS vs. IaaS, you might notice that some of these issues are reoccurring. They have to do with the concepts themselves, so you won’t be able to do much to mitigate the risks.

What is PaaS?

PaaS products are great for developers who want to create their own applications without having to deal with storage and data serving issues. When you compare IaaS vs. PaaS, you might notice a lot of similarities. The main difference is that, usually, PaaS is less impactful on your business.

When you pay for a PaaS product, you don’t have to worry about data storage. Furthermore, if you’re developing software with partners, it makes it easier to track each other’s progress. In a way, you can look at PaaS products as something that helps you develop SaaS.

PaaS advantages

Nowadays, the majority of developers rely on PaaS to create their software. These products can significantly reduce your costs while making it easier to work with the whole team. Furthermore, when you use an internet platform, you don’t have to worry about transferring an app from your PC to the web. You can deploy software almost immediately without additional hassle.

  • You can have several developers working on the same app without having to be in close proximity to each other.
  • Most of these platforms have intuitive software making it easier for new team members to catch up to speed.
  • In case that your software rises in popularity, PaaS products would allow you to scale the project.
  • You don’t have to worry about certain backend processes. PaaS allows you to customize and update applications without too much headache.

PaaS disadvantages

Issues with PaaS and SaaS are relatively similar. The only difference is that with PaaS, everything is done on a larger scale. While SaaS products shouldn’t have a major impact on your daily operations, issues with PaaS often cannot be circumvented. Just imagine losing all that work overnight due to an outage. The only positive thing is that these issues almost never occur.

Here are some other things you need to consider before committing to this type of platform:

  • While you don’t have to store data on a company server, you are relinquishing control over it. This might endanger clients’ data down the line.
  • Like with data, you don’t have control over the apps and infrastructure. While this might not be an issue for smaller companies that make minor apps, it will be a problem for larger organizations.
  • Changes to PaaS provider’s Terms and Services can have a major impact on your business.

PaaS leads to a larger exposure for the company. As mentioned, the risk involved increases with the size of the project. While smaller and medium companies might be willing to accept these risks, due to the overwhelming benefits of a PaaS platform, larger companies often find it easier to set up their own servers and platform.

What is IaaS?

Lastly, we have IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service. IaaS practically allows you to outsource the whole infrastructure. You won’t have to build servers as you grow the business. Needless to say, this is crucial for smaller companies as it allows them to save a lot of money.

No matter what you might think about IaaS, this service is the building block for modern cloud technologies. It provides you a lot of flexibility when dealing with users while also saving valuable company resources. IaaS companies give you access to their storage systems, networks, and servers.

IaaS advantages

With this type of infrastructure, you will have an amazing level of control over your projects. Here are some of the reasons why you should employ such a product:

  • You will have complete control over the infrastructure.
  • Based on the needs, you can increase it or decrease it.
  • Perhaps the best thing about IaaS is that you pay according to the resources you’ve used.
  • Companies don’t have to hassle with physical servers, their management, and maintenance.

IaaS disadvantages

Again, the main issue comes in the form of security and access. For example:

  • It is always the company’s responsibility to store and secure data. However, you relinquish this option by relying on an outside infrastructure.
  • IaaS products will give you a lot of control over the projects. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll also have to be more engaged. In other words, the IaaS provider will only give you servers and API, and you’ll have to figure out everything else.
  • If we compare IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS, you’ll quickly realize that IaaS requires most work. PaaS and SaaS rely on automation, where processes are almost plug-and-play. On the other hand, IaaS requires much more engagement on your part.

IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS – Main differences

As we’ve already mentioned, although all 3 concepts refer to cloud services, they are very different in their nature. So, let’s mention some of the main differences between them.

IaaS vs PaaS

The main difference between these two is that IaaS provides more control, while PaaS allows more flexibility. IaaS is a very advanced concept that can save you a lot of money. It might also require a lot of work on your end. PaaS is great because it allows you to develop your own software while being a part of a team.

SaaS vs PaaS

You have very little control over SaaS products. Customers utilize them on a daily basis for various processes and might use several programs at the same time. On the other hand, PaaS is the basis upon which you create. A company might already have its network and servers, and they just rely on PaaS for the creation of apps. Both of these concepts are tricky as they force you to relinquish a lot of the autonomy over the projects.

IaaS vs SaaS

Lastly, we should consider some differences between IaaS vs. SaaS. IaaS gives you the whole infrastructure. Oftentimes, small companies might use both IaaS and PaaS products. That saves them a lot of resources. SaaS is the least risky out of all these concepts. Even if you cannot access a SaaS, it won’t necessarily interfere with your daily operations. There are very few risks involved with these products.

Last thoughts on SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

In theory, you can utilize all 3 concepts for your company. They are especially great for smaller projects and for companies that cannot handle the massive costs of setting up their own servers, networks, and platforms.

The risks of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS increase with the size of the company. For example, we mentioned SaaS products as something that can easily be substituted. However, if you’re a large company with hundreds of employees, a small issue such as temporary loss of software can cause a major problem to the whole system. Needless to say, the potential losses will be that much larger.

Anyway, if you wish to implement any of these products, make sure they’re worth it.

What is SaaS?

It stands for Software as a Service and it provides you access to various online tools without need to install or setup anything.

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a Service – provides you will network, servers and all the other hardware remotely so you can focus on your product and development.

What is PaaS?

Platform as a services, provides you with applications that are already installed on the servers. Good example is hosting. You can just create an account and start using it.


  • Vlad Falin

    Vlad Falin is a founder and blogger at Costofincome.com, an affiliate marketer, and a digital marketing expert. Prior to starting this blog, Vlad accumulated over 7 years of experience in digital marketing, working on his own affiliate marketing projects, and providing consulting services. In this blog, Vlad writes to thousands of readers about starting a business online and reviews SaaS tools.

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