Comparing SaaS, IaaS, DaaS and PaaS

If a business is considering a move from on-premises to the cloud in any capacity, there are some key terms to get familiar with. These include:

  • SaaS, which is software available through a third-party over the internet
  • IaaS, which are cloud-based, pay-as-you-go services including networking, storage, and virtualization
  • DaaS, which is desktop as a service, a cloud computing option with virtual desktops available to end-users over the internet, licensed per-user.
  • PaaS, standing for platform as a service, is when a vendor provides hardware and software tools online, and then these tools are used for the development of applications.

In general, cloud services can include many elements like data storage, databases, software, networks and computing. The commonality with cloud services is that they’re accessible on-demand through the internet. The services are externally located, and anyone can use them as long as they have internet access.

In the past, users were instead required to install software on their hardware and then store their data locally.

Cloud services make hardware and software accessible on-demand, so businesses and individuals don’t need software installation and local hardware.

We’ll cover each of these four in more detail below for comparison purposes.

An Overview of SaaS

Software as a service is the term you probably hear most often when discussing the cloud.

SaaS is software usually centrally hosted. The software is accessible through the internet, and businesses and customers can use it without thinking about computing resources.

Any device can access software and data, and data can be shared easily. The SaaS provider manages application access, including availability, performance, and security.

Features of SaaS can include:

  • Easily scalable and customizable
  • Improved access
  • Easy to use overall

What is IaaS?

IaaS is infrastructure as a service. It’s a cloud computing option that offers computing, networking, and storage resources on-demand. You pay as you go.

If you migrate your organizational infrastructure to an IaaS solution, then you cut down on maintenance associated with on-premises data centers. You can also save money on the cost of hardware, and it helps you get insights to drive decision-making in real-time.

IaaS solutions are highly scalable, so you can easily go up or down with your IT resources as you need.

You can increase the reliability of your infrastructure and rapidly provision new applications.

With IaaS, you don’t need to buy or manage physical servers or data center infrastructure.

Benefits of IaaS include:

  • You have reduced capital expenditures and optimization of what you do spend. Your IT team can focus on core strategy.
  • You can accommodate any spikes in business and resource demand without paying for them during downtimes.
  • Application performance is improved so your employees can access IT resources no matter where they are in the world.
  • You don’t have to troubleshoot equipment or maintain and then subsequently upgrade software.
  • Continuity and availability are benefits.
  • As long as you verify the service agreement with your cloud service provider, you’ll enjoy better security than you would have in-house.
  • If you’re going to launch something new, you’ll have the computing infrastructure ready in a matter of minutes so that you can get the products and innovations to users quickly.

What is DaaS?

DaaS stands for desktop as a service.

Desktop as a service refers to virtual computing that provides a cloud workspace for remote or mobile employees. With DaaS, your employees can connect no matter their device to their digital workspace.

As is the case with the above options, DaaS also offers reduced maintenance costs, flexibility, and security.

You don’t have to do individual configurations or provision hardware but can still provide a workspace to a new employee.

With DaaS, businesses can use bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and facilitate remote and hybrid work. Everything is stored on the cloud, so no business data is being held on employees’ personal devices.

Each employee accesses a secure environment for work, with what they need to be productive, and when they log out, the virtual machine is reset. This restricted access helps cut out some potential attack vectors that would otherwise be available on a traditional desktop.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

A fourth category relevant to the cloud is called platform as a service or PaaS. PaaS is a development and deployment environment in the cloud. It delivers resources required to create simple apps based in the cloud, all the way to advanced enterprise applications.

With PaaS, a user purchases the resources they need on a pay-as-you-go basis. Like IaaS, there is an infrastructure component to PaaS. The difference between the two is that PaaS includes middleware and development tools and business intelligence and database management systems.

PaaS is a way to support the full lifecycle of web app building. This lifecycle includes not just building but testing, deploying, managing and updating.

The primary advantage here is that it’s much cheaper and simpler than buying and managing software licenses. Otherwise, you’d also have to buy the infrastructure underlying the application and development tools.

You manage the services and applications you develop. Everything else is up to the cloud services provider.

With PaaS development tools, you can cut coding time. There are often pre-coded elements built into a platform. You can increase your development capabilities without bringing people onboard, and you can develop for multiple platforms including mobile.

With a pay-as-you-go model, you can gain access to sophisticated tools that your budget might not otherwise allow for.

If your team works on a distributed basis, you can all work together and collaborate on projects, no matter your physical location.

There are a few scenarios where PaaS is commonly used. PaaS can provide a developer framework for custom cloud applications. PaaS is also for analytics and business intelligence. For example, you can use it to forecast and fuel stronger business decisions.

Finally, the third general application of use for PaaS is the provision of additional services to improve applications, like security and workflow.

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