The Difference Between IaaS PaaS and SaaS

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Cloud computing has, in the past few years, exploded into a widely-explored, and very practically applied technology. Well, it isn’t a new idea, because the cloud was first envisioned in the sixties, when the original mini-computers and primitive networks were being experimented with. Only recently has it been practical to actually do. And, there was the risk of it not being taken seriously. Well, luckily, it has been taken seriously. It comes in three basic forms: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. But, exactly what are these?

Well, most people, when they think of the cloud, don’t fully know what this really means. This is an insult to nobody, because the name doesn’t lend much of an explanation of what it really is. Others who have dug a little deeper get that it’s the use of remote resources over TCP/IP to do things originally done locally, or on a local network.

In this sense, when server farms first became a reality during the dot com boom, this was in fact the dawn of cloud service. Remote servers somewhere else, leased from a data center, hosted websites and other legacy internet protocols. They still do, today. But, these remote servers also do other things, like file storage, collaborative file sharing and editing, virtual computing environments allowing multiple, cross-platform remote access, and a whole number of other advanced IP systems.

Now, as I said, this has created three basic classes of service and application: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. So, let’s look at what these really are, briefly. None of these is too difficult to explain nor understand.

SaaS – SaaS is the most commonly seen term, for most people, and most people mostly understand what this one is. SaaS stands for Software as a Service. Browser-based software such as Google Drive, CRM systems like Salesforce, and a billion other similar services are this type.

IaaS – This is where peoples’ familiarity with aspects of the cloud begins to waver, understandably. Many people make frequent use of a form of Infrastructure as a Service, but it’s not something that’s starkly obvious. It includes things like virtualization, networking and global storage systems.

PssS – Platform as a Service is something people see almost as often as SaaS, but again, it’s not that obvious. PaaS is basically any set of network cluster designs which run emulated platforms, such as SaaS, virtual workspaces, cloud gaming and other such things. These are becoming popular, and you’ll see more of this in the near future, as for right now it’s used more for businesses and tech people than general consumers.

So, that’s basically the definition of IaaS PaaS and SaaS. They’re not complicated ideas, but understanding these, and their differences lends to a better understanding of how cloud computing works, and the various things it does. Better understanding the cloud means better use of it, and getting far more out of it. This is a revolutionary technology which was a long time coming. Now that it’s here, don’t let a lack of understanding prevent you from enjoying this. Fail to mention, it’ll eventually be an absolute necessity to know how to use things like this.


Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.