14 Sep 2020 - Dennis Egen

Cloud Deployment Models: Choosing a Platform That’s Best for You

light bulb in a think bubble

Are you considering making the jump to a cloud-based system for your business or e-commerce site?

If so, you have an important decision to make: What kind of cloud-based solution are you going to choose?

When it comes to cloud computing software, there are three kinds of solutions to evaluate:

  • IaaS
  • PaaS
  • SaaS

Cloud computing has seen a remarkable period of exponential growth over the last decade. In 2010, the cloud computing industry was valued at around $24.65 billion. And by the end of 2020? That number is anticipated to reach $266 billion globally, but this number also is set to take off. By 2023, the public cloud alone is expected to grow to a $623.3 billion industry worldwide.

Cloud computing isn’t going away. In fact, the adoption of all three cloud computing solutions—IaaS, PaaS and SaaS—is skyrocketing.

By the end of 2020, 82 percent of enterprise workloads will reside in the cloud. Very rapid growth. 

What does each of these cloud-based software solutions have to offer? And how do they compare to one another? Let’s break it down:

The Main Differences Between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS Architecture

Not long ago were the days of on-premises IT systems, but since then the “clouds” have rolled in, and now 69 percent of companies are migrating their business-critical applications to the cloud. 

So what are these three kinds of cloud computing, and what do they do?

  • IaaS: Infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, delivers the computing, network and storage resources you need on demand over the internet. This is done on a pay-as-you-go basis, which allows end users to scale and shrink their resources as needed. 
  • PaaS: PaaS stands for platform as a service, and it refers to hardware and software tools that are available over the internet. A service provider delivers a platform to clients, which allows them to run and manage their business applications without having to build and maintain the infrastructure.
  • SaaS: Software as a service (SaaS) refers to third-party software that’s available over the internet. Data can be accessed from any device that’s connected to the internet, and software vendors host and maintain the services, databases and code that make up your application for you.

A Cost and Development Comparison

Something to keep in mind? Just as there’s a difference in the level of service you receive with each of these platforms, there’s also a difference in development cost, flexibility and customization capabilities. 

Think of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS as tiers. With IaaS, you have the most flexibility in customization and control. Moving from IaaS to PaaS, you lose some flexibility and control, but you decrease your development costs and your time to market. With SaaS, you typically pay the least in development cost, and your solutions are market ready, but you lose some customization capabilities. 

What does that mean for you? Your decision depends on what your organization needs in terms of control, development time and budget.

How the Cloud Compares to On-Premise Systems

Traditional, on-premise software is licensed to be used on site. The biggest difference is that cloud computing programs like SaaS, PaaS and IaaS are accessed via the internet, while on-premise software has to be accessed using bulky, costly hard drives that require an IT person (or team of people) to run.

Real-Life Examples of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS

Chances are even if you are just starting to research the “as-a-service” market, you already know some of these services and have seen them in action. Here are a few companies that use these models:

  • SaaS Companies: HubSpot, MailChimp, Shopify, Atlassian, Salesforce, Square, Wix, ZenDesk
  • PaaS Companies: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku, Force.com, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos, OpenShift
  • IaaS Companies: DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE)

An In-Depth Look at IaaS

So what do IaaS programs do? These businesses offer pay-as-you-go storage and infrastructure, which also allows you to create your own networking and virtualization.  

IaaS is the cloud’s answer to on-premise infrastructure, which frees you up from having to pay for on-site resources and the IT team to manage them. 

    • How is IaaS delivered?
      • Enterprises access IaaS via the internet.
    • It’s reliable, making it easy for you to have the resources you need when you need them.
    • It’s secure, with state-of-the-art security as a core part of the service’s business model.
    • It offers development and operational support to speed up operations and grant immediate access to infrastructure.
    • It removes IT as a cost drain, which gives you more time, energy and resources to focus on your core operations.
    • It’s less expensive than purchasing and maintaining on-premise infrastructure and requires less labor to manage.

What else do you need to know about IaaS?

Rather than investing a large amount of overhead in physical hardware and the IT contractors to maintain it, with IaaS, you buy only what you need. You only have to pay for the infrastructure that you currently are using, and you can purchase more as your business expands.

This makes IaaS a flexible, scalable solution that never leaves you stuck with costly hard drives that become outdated or run out of space. The best part? The control over your infrastructure is back in your hands. IaaS is easy to maintain; you don’t need to be an IT wizard to master it, which means your entire infrastructure is more accessible to you. 

IaaS solutions are accessible by many users, flexible and scalable, and incredibly cost effective, which makes them appealing to many who hate the time and expense of on-premise solutions.

The Tradeoffs of IaaS

An IaaS cloud infrastructure gives you the most control over your software and hardware. The catch? You’re in charge of ensuring your infrastructure is secure and running properly. If outages happen, it’s up to you to manage them. When an outage happens in a critical part of your infrastructure, you have to repair it yourself.

And if you need to develop your infrastructure quickly or on a budget, IaaS might be too expensive or too time intensive an option.

Is an IaaS Solution Right for You?

IaaS can be used by companies of all kinds since it puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your infrastructure. Since it operates on a pay-as-you-go model, it’s more affordable to all budgets, making cutting-edge technology available even for the little guy.

IaaS is also a great option if you are looking for security. The whole focus of the service is providing exceptional security, and it has teams of experts working every day to make it a safe, reliable option for its users. 

It’s also a smart choice to migrate to an IaaS platform if you need ongoing support or think that you’ll need to scale up your business soon because it’s easy to do so without too much hassle. It makes your business “future-proof” because you’re ready for anything when you use an IaaS solution!

The main takeaway?

  • You don’t have to pay for physical servers; instead, you get scalable access to virtual servers. You don’t have to pay to maintain on-premise servers.
  • You pay for only what you need and easily can expand and contract your infrastructure as needed.

A Deep Dive into PaaS

What can a platform as a service do for you?

This cloud-based platform service gives your developers the tools and the framework they need to build custom applications. This means PaaS isn’t giving you software over the internet but instead is giving you an online platform to create your own software. 

PaaS is accessible to your different developers, allowing them to build your software using the tools offered by your PaaS provider. It’s like giving your developers a box of virtual Legos and letting them use them to build what they want.

  • How is PaaS delivered?
    • It is delivered over the internet.
    • PaaS gives your developers the power to create unique and highly customizable software. 
    • Developers don’t have to build your software from the code up. They get to pick and choose from pre-existing tools that will enhance your application, which saves a lot of time and resources.
    • It gives you the freedom to build a one-of-a-kind app without having to break the bank or bear too much responsibility.

Think of PaaS like hiring a venue to put on a show compared to building a venue for your show. If you’re producing a concert, you don’t want to build the whole arena where it will take place. You get to create a custom concert, and while the venue remains the same, what you do with it is all your own.

What else should you know about PaaS?

PaaS is highly accessible by many users, which allows your IT team the opportunity to collaborate when using the service to create your own software. 

Like IaaS, PaaS is also scalable. In most cases, there are multiple tiers of resources available, and you get to pick the tier that best fits your business needs and budget. It’s also very easy to run without the need for lots of system administration knowledge, and it’s all built in the cloud.

Considerations in Choosing PaaS

While a PaaS model gives your IT team a great deal of control over your software and your applications, you only have control over the software itself. A challenge with a PaaS model is that you can only control what is built on the platform, not the platform itself. 

This means that if there is an issue or outage with the hardware or with the operating system, it will take your software out with it. PaaS offers a fair amount of customization and control while finding a middle ground with the budget and development time to market, but there can be trade-offs when you have a hardware outage.

Is a PaaS Solution the Right Fit for You?

PaaS is perfect for companies that are looking to build something totally different but don’t want to invest so much time and money in building it from the ground up. It’s cost effective and time effective.

When you use PaaS, your developer doesn’t have to worry so much about the technicalities. Instead, they get to channel their energy into the creative side of app developing, creating and testing, not on tedious tasks like managing software updates or security patches. That all comes built in!

The important benefits?

  • You get to create entirely unique software without breaking the bank or busting your schedule to do so.
  • You work with a service that manages a lot of the heavy lifting for you. It monitors and adjusts your capacity provisioning, load balancing and scaling for you and ensures your application is healthy and secure.

A Comprehensive Overview of SaaS

SaaS, or software as a service, is a cloud-based solution that gives you the power to access and run an application through an internet browser. Rather than downloading software to your desktop PC or your business’ network, everything is accessed online. This might look like anything from office software to your entire enterprise solution and content management system. 

  • How is SaaS delivered?
    • Like IaaS and PaaS, SaaS is delivered via the internet.
    • SaaS solutions are incredibly accessible and highly compatible with a wide array of devices. They also make operational management a breeze. Log in from anywhere you have an internet connection.
    • SaaS systems boast lower upfront costs than traditional software downloads and installation, so it’s more affordable for businesses of all sizes. This means that smaller businesses can break into existing markets with the same kinds of tools that the larger companies have access to.
    • Get personalized logins for your entire team for added security.
    • Forget about having to keep software downloaded and up to date on all the devices in your computer—everything’s in the cloud instead.

SaaS products are easy to set up and start using. They’re cloud-based and hosted online by a third-party provider, so all you have to do is log on to start accessing the online applications. You don’t need to host software locally on servers located on site.

What else should you know about SaaS?

Many choose SaaS solutions for the payment structure too. The majority of SaaS providers have a subscription model with a fixed all-in-one rate. You know exactly what you’re paying for, and you can budget accordingly without any unexpected surprises.

These SaaS subscriptions typically also have maintenance, compliance and security services. When you need these services for your on-premise software, it’s usually an extra costly expense. SaaS providers have created a product that works out of the box but has additional customer support in place if you need it. Most SaaS solutions are also very simple to set up, which means you can have your software up and running in a few hours.

What You Should Know About SaaS

SaaS models are easy to use, but that can be the crux of what some find frustrating too. Using an SaaS product, you lose control of your infrastructure. If your software provider has an outage, you’ll have an outage too, which can impact any business processes that rely on your SaaS system to operate. Also, if you want custom functionality, you may be out of luck. You are at the mercy of the SaaS providers roadmap, usually only offering functionality that most of their customers need.

SaaS models are quick to launch and inexpensive to develop, but if you can’t gamble with software provider outages, it might not be the perfect choice for you.

Is a SaaS Solution the Right Fit for You?

SaaS platforms are great for small and medium-sized businesses that want to be able to compete with the same functions and services that the larger companies easily can afford. They’re also a wise choice if you want an application that will run smoothly and reliably without a lot of input, fuss or maintenance from you.

What you should know:

  • You can create an entire application—and even an entire online store—in practically no time at all without the need for coding, hosting or software with SaaS.
  • SaaS solutions frequently offer regular, automatic updates that are covered in your subscription. You have more time to focus on running your business.

The Recap: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS

So when you’re about to build your applications or your website, which one is right for you?

  • IaaS gives you the most flexibility when you want to customize and build your own apps—which requires a  bit more work on your end. It’s also a great resource for available data storage.
  • PaaS gives you the online platform to build your own applications and software using the building blocks your service provider has to offer.
  • SaaS is an ideal solution if you’re looking for out-of-the-box solutions that fulfill a particular business need without too much maintenance or managing on your part.

The good news? In some cases, you don’t have to choose at all. Sometimes, you might find that a combination of all three is the best solution for your business. 

At Engine Room, we can help you with the ground-up implementation of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions or jump in wherever you are and take over for you. We’ve got a team of knowledgeable experts who come to the table armed well with business and technical acumen in IaaS, PaaS and SaaS cloud providers. 

We’re here to help. If you’re wanting to know more about these service solutions and how to build a website or app that is customized to your company’s needs, we can make it happen.

Want to learn more about cloud providers, as-a-service benefits and how Engine Room can tailor solutions to enhance your enterprise? Contact us today!

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