As we discussed in our post about Cloud Computing Benefits, modernizing your business’ technology without taking on crazy IT burdens is a key factor for companies focused on growth. Cloud services offer a variety of options for streamlining your computing needs. As you start looking for the right mix for your business, you’ll come across three basic groups of cloud services: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Let’s look at the fundamentals of each:

What is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)?

Caption: Servers don’t actually float, but you get the picture

IaaS (pronounced “eye-as,” or sometimes “eyes”; to avoid confused looks, just say “infrastructure as a service”) refers to cloud-based hardware services, i.e. infrastructure management services. IaaS lets your company access data storage and networking capabilities through the Internet; the cloud provider maintains all the necessary hardware in a remote location.

What you get: Server usage, data storage, backup and recovery options, and network capabilities

What the cloud provider manages: The hardware, network, security, and a whole lot more. That is, the hard drives, the backup drives, the power supplies, the network cables, etc.

What the cloud provider usually doesn’t manage: Your operating systems and applications.

Examples of a PaaS offering: Microsoft Azure or Google Compute Cloud

What is Platform as a Service (PaaS)?

Caption: Yes, he is trying to insert an ethernet plug into a tiny cloud.

PaaS (pronounced “pahz”) is a cloud-based platform for developing and deploying applications; it includes cloud-based operating systems and developer environments and tools. If IaaS provides the foundation level of cloud services, PaaS is the next tier, with more provider management.

What you get: Operating systems, middleware services, developer tools

What the cloud provider manages: The hardware and software necessary for supporting the platforms and developer tools. With PaaS, the provider updates the software so that your company doesn’t have to manage patching or upgrading.

What the cloud provider doesn’t manage: Your custom applications

Example of a PaaS product: Microsoft Azure’s SQL Database. Your company can use Azure’s database tool to power your company’s applications without having to manage any database related hardware or software.

What is Software as a Service (Saas)?

Caption: Access work anytime from anywhere

SaaS (pronounced “sass” or “saz”) is the use of software through the Internet rather than downloading software onto your devices. So, this means the cloud provider hosts the software, and your company just accesses it when you want to use it.

What you get: The use of the software application

What the cloud provider manages: All updates related to the software

Examples of SaaS products: Hubspot or Microsoft Office 365

More Resources

Want more on the IaaS definition, or PaaS, SaaS, or other cloud computing definitions? Get technical and check out The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing.

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