We hear a lot these days about the general concept of cloud computing, and indeed cloud networks are being implemented on a broader and broader basis. Companies, universities, and even individuals are taking advantage of cloud computing in a variety of different ways, all geared toward increasing efficiency, security, and convenience when working online. However, to focus on cloud computing as a general service would be to ignore the different ways in which cloud providers offer services. From massive tech companies to niche providers like sharefile.com, there are many different companies and websites providing cloud service, and many are doing it in different ways.
Essentially, there are three main ways in which cloud service can be provided. They are defined as such: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), with each type of service sharing basic similarities and a few key differences with the others. Here is a quick look at some of the defining characteristics and abilities associated with each type of cloud computing service.
Software as a Service
The SaaS model is essentially the idea of providing a software over the Internet (and securing income through either payment models or advertisements, in which case software is free to customers). In this model, the software is handled, managed, and updated from a central location, which makes it simple and easy for customers to use without these types of obligations. Additionally, on the user side, SaaS programs can generally be used simply through the web without complex downloads or installations. Gmail is one SaaS provider that many are particularly familiar with.
Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service models are in some ways the most complicated of the three types of service, but on the other hand there are many similarities with SaaS providers. Essentially, PaaS is the same idea, except that instead of providing software to users over the Internet, providers are offering platforms on which to build software. The platform allows for the easy creation and implementation of web applications and software without the need to purchase new hardware or software on the side. As Apprenda notes, one example of how PaaS works is that you can create applications on the platform in much the same way you might create macros in Microsoft Excel.
Infrastructure as a Service
IaaS providers basically package the entire cloud computing process and make it the responsibility of the user. The best way to understand how IaaS differs from other services is to think of it as a rental of an entire cloud computing infrastructure. For a fee, the cloud provider delivers servers, storage, and operating systems all to the users of their use to meet their independent needs, or the needs of their company. The IaaS model of service is used particularly in instances when the user might otherwise have a hard time meeting demands, or purchasing or affording hardware necessary to run the company.
There are of course more intricacies and differences between these different types of service, and if you are considering making use of them it’s worth further investigation. However, as mentioned previously, it is a bit simplistic to view “cloud computing” on the whole as a single type of technology or service. Understanding the differences and comparisons between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS can help you to better understand cloud computing in general, and you can then make informed decisions accordingly.