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What are the Different Types of Cloud Computing Services?

What is the difference between Software-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service? How can each type of cloud service benefit your business?

Today's technology companies have rapidly embraced  cloud computing solutions as a way to keep IT environments productive, flexible and secure.  Cloud computing services allow companies to use applications, storage and other resources without having to install and manage the hardware, software and infrastructure themselves. Instead, it is all managed by third-party companies and stored in high-end servers and networks. Cloud computing is used to manage costs and make a business more efficient with pay-as-you-go service models. If your company utilizes specialized applications and didn't set up servers or buy hardware or software, you are using a cloud-based service.

Three Main Types of Cloud Computing Solutions

Cloud computing is broken down into three main services: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). SaaS is the cloud computing solution with which most users interact. PaaS providers allow users to create and deploy applications. IaaS powers the cloud through virtualized infrastructure and hardware, saving space and cost in company data centers.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

At the base of any business technology is IaaS. Servers, data center space, storage, software, connections — these vital web architecture pieces are provided to businesses via IaaS cloud services. The advantage to IaaS is that businesses can "rent" these items from a service provider, as opposed to "owning" and managing architecture themselves. The scalability of IaaS then allows users to scale up the amount of space needed at any time, such as e-commerce sites needing more server space to handle the heavy traffic that comes during the holiday season. IaaS allows the business to develop and grow on demand, as well as only pay for what is necessary during a certain time frame.

PaaS and SaaS are grounded within IaaS, so it is important to choose the infrastructure that is complex enough to run your necessary software and flexible enough to meet your other needs. Some of the major cloud providers offering IaaS solutions include Google, Amazon, Rackspace, IBM and Verizon.

The major benefits of IaaS cloud services include:

  • Reduced ownership costs and company expenditures
  • Paying for only the service you require
  • Access to enterprise-grade IT resources and infrastructure
  • Scalability to meet your requirements at any time


Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

SaaS refers to business software applications that are delivered via the cloud, such as office productivity software, cloud security and collaboration solutions, mobility management applications and more. Software can be quickly deployed since it is already installed on the cloud server. Instead of software being installed directly on your computer, it is stored and delivered via the cloud, with users only needing access to a computer with internet connection to use the software. You will never have to worry about upgrading or patching the software because you are not responsible for maintaining it. SaaS can also be an easy way to distribute the same software program to users with different operating systems so that teams using different brands of hardware can maintain project continuity. Reducing the burdens of maintenance, support and operations by having the application run on computers belonging to the vendor reduces costs and IT man hours.

SaaS solutions may be subscription-based, pay-per-use or free. Some of the major companies offering SaaS solutions include Citrix, NetSuite, Salesforce and more.

The major benefits of SaaS include:

  • Rapid scalability should your workforce expand and more users need to be added to software
  • Accessibility — you simply need a computer with an internet connection
  • Elimination of infrastructure concerns
  • Bundled maintenance and support, reducing your IT team needs
  • Custom levels of service offerings based on your business needs


Advantages of Cloud Computing Solutions

IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offer several distinct advantages over creating and maintaining your own infrastructure, platform and software solutions. The first is that it takes a lot less money and time complete the setup and get started. The second is that you automatically have access to your cloud services from any computing device attached to the internet, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. The third benefit is that cloud solutions are easily scalable. As your company grows or experiences a busy time, it is easy to increase your subscription to the resources you need without much problem. The final benefit is improved efficiency. Cloud services can help new companies become profitable quickly without risking investments in in-house IT infrastructure, hardware or software.

Think SaaS, IaaS or Paas could be right for your organization?