Research Hub > The Top 3 Cloud Computing Service Models

February 13, 2023

5 min

The Top 3 Cloud Computing Service Models

What are the different cloud offerings available to businesses, and which one is right for your organization?

CDW Expert CDW Expert

One of the greatest benefits of cloud computing is automation. Companies are eager to adopt the cloud to remove layers of management. You won’t be responsible for the physical data centers, operating systems and hardware.


By 2025, Gartner predicts that cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95 percent of new digital workloads, up from less than 30 percent in 2021.

Companies are eager to adopt the cloud to remove layers of management. By removing these layers, your organization can cut costs and minimize the time spent on IT tasks.

Instead of maintaining hardware, you can focus on innovation and scale your applications on demand. More enterprises are turning to the cloud to reinvent their applications and take advantage of new deployment strategies.

But the cloud may mean something different to your enterprise compared to the enterprise down the street. Deploying the right model or hybrid model for your needs is key.

What Are the Three Common Cloud Service Models?

There is confusion about the three main categories of cloud service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Let’s define each cloud service model.



Infrastructure as a Service


Platform as a Service


Software as a Service

1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a self-service model for managing remote data center infrastructures. IaaS provides virtualized computing resources over the Internet hosted by a third party such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google.

Instead of an organization purchasing hardware, companies purchase IaaS based on a consumption model. It is like buying electricity. You only pay for what you use. This model enables companies to add, delete or reconfigure IT infrastructure on-demand.

Many IT organizations rely on IaaS because they are more familiar with IaaS, especially if they have years of experience with virtual environments or strict security and regulatory requirements that can only be met through IaaS.


2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) allows organizations to build, run and manage applications without the IT infrastructure. This makes it easier and faster to develop, test and deploy applications.

Developers can focus on writing code and create applications without worrying about time-consuming IT infrastructure activities such as provisioning servers, storage and backup.

PaaS brings more value to cloud. It can reduce your management overhead and lower your costs. PaaS also makes it easier for you to innovate and scale your services on demand.


3. Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a service (SaaS) replaces the traditional on-device software with software that is licensed on a subscription basis. It is centrally hosted in the cloud. A good example is

Most SaaS applications can be accessed directly from a web browser without any downloads or installations required. However, some SaaS applications require plugins.

Find the Right Model for the Right Business Outcome

A successful move to cloud isn’t about IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS. The trick for any organization is knowing which model to choose based on what it needs to accomplish. In many situations, it is likely to use all three models to cover various business needs and perhaps a few of the other service models listed below.

Other cloud service models you may want to consider:

• Network as a Service (NaaS)

• Backup as a Service (BaaS)

• Database as a Service (DBaaS)

• Communications as a Service (CAAS)

• Storage as a Service (STaaS)

Working with a trusted solutions advisor can help you assess your organizations need and develop the right hybrid cloud solution. With a solid strategy, cloud foundation and governance plan, you can achieve more value from cloud.