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IaaS, PaaS, SaaS comparison

To set up an IT infrastructure for your business, you don’t have to buy and set up expensive hardware right away, or hire a whole team of administrators. Sometimes it is better to use cloud technology to get a project off to a quick start or to test a hypothesis. For example, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
This article will explain what is behind the acronyms, explain in detail the difference between them and help you decide whether they are right for you.

SaaS, PaaS, IaaS – what are they?

AAS stands for ‘as a Service’. IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are different variants of providing a service to rent and maintain resources in the cloud. Let’s look at what specific resources and capabilities each service provided.


IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) stands for Infrastructure as a Service. Infrastructure in the cloud, like traditional infrastructure, includes virtual servers, data storage, CRM systems, operating systems and more.
Benefits of IaaS
  • The flexibility of use: It is not necessary to plug in the most powerful system right away. If the project starts to grow, you can gradually increase the number of resources used.
  • Price variability: The client chooses the specific functionality or set of services that he needs for his task. You will only be charged for the amount of capacity you use.
  • Resource savings: You don’t have to buy equipment if you need it for a project only from time to time.
  • Save time: There is no need to set up equipment.


Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a ready-to-use information technology environment in the cloud. It is easy to manage operating systems, databases, development, testing and delivery tools. All tools are preconfigured and ready to go. In addition, all the services that make the platform work (servers, storage, networking) are maintained by the provider.
The benefits of PaaS
Rapid deployment: no long connectivity or configuration is needed to start a task. Programs are quickly called up from the system.
No administration required: Support and updates of local data centres will take place on the platform side.
Versatility: Although PaaS is practically an off-the-shelf product, its capabilities are almost unlimited.
Automation: PaaS allows routine processes to be automated, as well as tasks that would normally be performed manually.
Accelerates product launch: No need to understand and configure the system. You can start implementing your idea right away.


SaaS (Software as a Service) is a software as a service. The user receives a fully configured and ready-to-use program that runs from the cloud using the computing power of a virtual server. All you need for the program is an Internet connection.
Benefits of SaaS
  • Saves on physical memory. The software does not take up space on your smartphone or computer.
  • Convenient access to the application. If you have an Internet connection, you can open the software anytime and anywhere.
  • Flexibility. You can choose the tariff according to the real resources consumption and use only the functionality you need for the task.
  • Unification. If your company consists of office staff and remote workers, SaaS applications help you set up your work according to the same standard.
Another model close to SaaS in the cloud is DaaS (Desktop as a Service). In this case, not a single piece of software is provided for rent, but a whole remote desktop on which the necessary software is pre-installed and configured.
So, we did a comparison of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS. Obviously, each of the services allows you to reduce both the time cost – for connection and configuration and the financial cost – for the purchase of hardware. Now let’s look at the differences between these services.

SaaS, PaaS, IaaS: the main differences

The main difference is how much of the configuration and supports the service provider takes care of, and how much is left at the disposal of the customer.
For example, IaaS service providers support only the hardware. The client chooses the configuration and operating system on which the server will be deployed. In the PaaS model, the provider configures the hardware and operating system and maintains them. The client uses the ready server and runs the necessary programs on it. And in the SaaS model, the entire infrastructure – the hardware, the operating system and the software itself – is already set up for the user. The application does not even have to be deployed – all you have to do is log in from any device.

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS: examples of services and uses

Who uses IaaS and why

  • Small business owners and startups. To avoid buying expensive equipment, some of which is not needed for the project. Lease only the software and components you need from the cloud.
  • To reduce the impact of peak loads. The ability to connect additional resources to your projects from time to time helps to keep your system up and running. For example, in periods of sudden load surges on the equipment (sales, promotions).
  • As a backup site. You can host a backup of your project’s entire infrastructure in the cloud. If the physical hardware fails, the project continues to function.
  • As a secondary site. You can host part of your common architecture services or applications in the cloud. This is a great solution when you need to reduce the load on your main hardware or to back up your main settings.
Examples of services: Cisco Metacloud, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, Elastic Cloud, Microsoft Azure virtual machines, Amazon EC2 virtual servers.

Who uses PaaS and why

  • Large business owners. Even if a company requires full functionality and large capacity to operate, in some cases IaaS can save resources to purchase and time to set up equipment.
  • When developing in teams. PaaS makes it convenient to divide tasks within a team. This is relevant when there is a team of developers working on a project.
  • For big data processing. The platform makes it possible to work with both real-time arrays and data from archives.
  • To take advantage of machine learning capabilities. PaaS is equipped with tools for developing applications based on machine learning.
  • To work with applications in containers. All components needed to run a particular application are placed in a separate container. The container makes it easy to invoke the application and adds capacity to make it run more efficiently.
Examples of services: containerised application development platforms – Containerum Managed Kubernetes Service, Azure Stack application service.

Who uses SaaS and why

  • Commercial and government organisations. To avoid wasting resources and time installing software on each computer, you can set up access to the service via a single cloud. So not only employees in the office can use the software, but also those working remotely.
  • In the sphere of wholesale business. SaaS service in the B2B segment allows fast start-up, automation of work and reduction of operating expenses of the enterprise.
  • For short-term projects. Applications in the cloud are convenient to use in small projects – no need to install and configure the system for a short period.
  • For analysis of business processes. Many planning and process management services (Trello, Kaiten and others) work on the SaaS principle. Tracking and analyzing processes is more convenient if the entire company uses a single tool.
Examples of services: Microsoft 365 cloud applications, cloud storage, CRM, website builders, corporate mail (Gmail, Exchange Online), Sheets, Evernote, ToDo.

Which service to choose

At first glance, cloud technologies like IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are very similar. But when you look closely, they are three different products, each occupying its own niche. When deciding which one to use, you need to look at your goals and objectives. If you want to quickly implement a single standard for your staff or perform one-off calculations for a project, choose SaaS. If you’re planning to set up an IT infrastructure with minimal effort or offload hardware with an already set up infrastructure, IaaS is the right choice. If you are working on high-powered tasks but don’t want to spend time on setup, installation and support, PaaS is your option.
If these products do not seem suitable for you, you can consider alternative cloud rentals, for example:
  • DaaS – Desktop as a Service
  • CaaS – Communication as a Service
  • HaaS – Hardware as a Service, hardware as a service and others.
If you are interested in an easily scalable infrastructure for a growing business or a project with a variable workload, you may be interested in Cloud VPS from Their big advantages are daily backups, snapshots, Firewall Management, Complete server control from the ArkHost client area.


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