IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: A Complete Overview | Virtasant (2023)

Want to know more about IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS? Our in-depth guide includes a review of all 3, and tips to make the right choice for your business. Read more inside.

Want to know more about IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS? Our in-depth guide includes a review of all three, plus tips to make the right choice for your business.

The cloud computing stack consists of three basic service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Many more XaaS service models exist, but IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are considered basic cloud service models.

Organizations considering a transition to cloud computing should be prepared to examine a range of available options, address potential technical concerns, research the overall cost of the transition, and answer questions that may be raised in the process. Choosing the right cloud service model is arguably the most significant decision in this process. However, before making your choice, it is essential to understand the differences between various cloud service models and their pros and cons.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: A Complete Overview | Virtasant (1)

(Video) The main DIFFERENCES between IaaS, SaaS and PaaS explained...

As one moves up the stack from IaaS (the base layer) to SaaS (the topmost layer), the level of abstraction increases. The greater levels of abstraction enable customers to focus more of their attention on business rather than managing their IT infrastructure. Let's take a closer look at each of these service models:

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model that provides consumers with a range of virtual computing infrastructure: servers, storage, networking, memory, and computing; as a service. While the vendor is in charge of the hardware infrastructure, the customer's IT staff is responsible for installing, running, and managing the operating systems, software, and data.

In an on-premise IT environment, the long procurement cycle for setting up and deploying physical hardware can take weeks, if not months. With IaaS, a virtual data center is available on-demand, and clients can set up additional resources within minutes. Besides annual or monthly subscriptions, IaaS is also available on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis, where users are charged only for the computing resources they use. This model contrasts with the over-provisioning of resources and excess spending that occurs when running on-premise physical infrastructure.

Since the IT infrastructure is virtualized, customers can direct their efforts toward building and managing applications while spending less time on IT heavy lifting.

Companies that provide IaaS capabilities are Amazon (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM, and Rackspace.

(Video) AZ-900 Episode 5 | IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS cloud service models | Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Course


  • Useful in applications with a highly variable workload that require the IT infrastructure to scale up and down as per demand,
  • Ideal for enterprises that wish to exercise a fair amount of control and administration over their applications and data,
  • Low risk of vendor lock-in.


  • Virtual machines (VMs) can be exposed to security breaches in a multi-tenant environment,
  • The workforce may need additional training to learn how to manage IaaS,
  • Bills for high workload computing can be high.

What is PaaS?

The next level up in the IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS model is Platform as a Service (PaaS). In PaaS, the vendor provides a complete application development environment to the client, allowing them to develop and manage applications without building time-consuming development environments.

PaaS users also gain access to various resources in the application stack such as middleware, programming languages, operating systems, and databases. All of which would have been significantly more difficult to maintain on-premise.

A significant advantage of PaaS is that the need to reinvent the wheel is removed. Companies can leverage the APIs, to quickly assemble a collection of third-party solutions. The development team can pay a monthly fee and use resources to build and deploy applications faster than building from scratch.

Put simply, PaaS allows companies to focus on their core strengths and agile software development to provide superior results.

(Video) Cloud Computing Services Models - IaaS PaaS SaaS Explained

Popular examples of PaaS include Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Force.com, Heroku, and Engine Yard.


  • Well-suited to applications that need to be deployed rapidly
  • Streamlines workflows when multiple developers are working on the same application,
  • Integrates well with many third-party solutions,
  • Highly-scalable, like IaaS.


  • Developers give up a certain degree of flexibility due to vendor lock-in,
  • If a PaaS vendor has an outage, the customer must wait for the provider to resolve the issue.

What is SaaS?

One of the best-selling service models is Software as a Service. SaaS sits at the top of the IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS cloud stack. When companies choose a SaaS option, the entire technology stack is outsourced. This means the vendor handles everything related to the delivery of the product.  Companies simply pay a subscription fee and access the application service over the internet through a web or mobile browser.

Since SaaS is delivered as a complete package, businesses do not have to spend precious time managing software and hardware. Instead, they can focus more on growing their business rather than be involved in IT.

Common SaaS products include Salesforce, GoogleApps, Hubspot, and Dropbox. The most popular SaaS solutions being business solutions like human resources, payroll, and enterprise resource planning.


  • Most likely to be used where speed-to-market is an essential driver for the organization,
  • Products are easy to use and provide cost savings because of their multi-tenant environment,
  • Solutions introduce high accessibility, well-suited for a remote workforce.


  • You don't have any control, as the vendor manages everything,
  • There is a deluge of SaaS products in the market, which results in stiff competition,
  • Vendor lock-in is a big issue.

(Video) Real-World AWS Applications: Cloud Computing , AWS , IaaS, PaaS, SaaS

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS comparison

These cloud service models efficiently target different companies and industries. For example, IaaS can be an exciting option for organizations with an established IT infrastructure. With qualified staff, they can gradually migrate to the cloud instead of upgrading their on-premise infrastructure. It is also a viable option for start-up companies looking to avoid large capital expenditures on IT infrastructure.

PaaS solutions are an excellent asset for agile software development and deployment in large teams with remote workers. SaaS solutions target end-users who need a reliable and straightforward software solution that runs in a web browser.

As you move up the cloud service model stack, the required level of user IT expertise decreases. Meanwhile, the costs decrease as well. The SaaS cloud service model is the most affordable, while IaaS is the most expensive.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: A Complete Overview | Virtasant (2)

Generally, SaaS solutions high level of abstraction is better suited for companies and industries where IT infrastructure is less critical. Companies with more extensive IT infrastructure usually opt for lower levels of abstraction with PaaS and IaaS solutions. This allows more control over their applications and data, or gradually migrate from on-premise systems.

(Video) IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS | cloud service models | - Differences, Examples and Use case

Gartner reports that SaaS solutions currently have the largest market share, continuing to push out traditional on-premise licensed software. IaaS solutions hold second place, with PaaS close behind in third place. However, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solutions, despite their relatively small market share, is predicted to have the highest growth. This is likely due to the increased need for remote workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our IaaS vs Paas vs Saas comparison should clarify the cloud service model that is ideally suited to meet the needs of your organization. Keep in mind that you can use a mix of these service models. For instance, you can use SaaS for your e-mail service and HR, and IaaS or PaaS to host the rest of your operations.

The specific requirements of a company should be the single most significant factor in determining the appropriate cloud service model.


IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: A Complete Overview | Virtasant? ›

There are 3 main types of cloud computing as-a-service options and each one covers a degree of management for you: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

What is the difference between IaaS and PaaS and SaaS? ›

There are 3 main types of cloud computing as-a-service options and each one covers a degree of management for you: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

What is IaaS PaaS and SaaS in simple terms? ›

These services fall into three categories: IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). Each term refers to a resource made available to users as an on-demand model. This means users do not need to invest heavily in infrastructure to host and use their services.

How do I choose between IaaS PaaS and SaaS? ›

IaaS provides you the most freedom of control as it lets you manage your applications, data, middleware, and operating system. On the other hand, PaaS allows you to manage your data and applications only, and with SaaS, everything is managed by your service provider.

What are the three service models defined by NIST? ›

The NIST Cloud Computing Definition provides three possible cloud services categories (called service models): Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

What is the difference between IaaS and PaaS for dummies? ›

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): IaaS products allow organizations to manage their business resources — such as their network, servers, and data storage — on the cloud. PaaS (Platform as a Service): PaaS products allow businesses and developers to host, build, and deploy consumer-facing apps.

Is Amazon a PaaS or IaaS? ›

AWS (Amazon Web Services) is a comprehensive, evolving cloud computing platform provided by Amazon that includes a mixture of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and packaged-software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings.

What is the main difference between SaaS and PaaS? ›

PaaS, or platform as a service, is on-demand access to a complete, ready-to-use, cloud-hosted platform for developing, running, maintaining and managing applications. SaaS, or software as a service, is on-demand access to ready-to-use, cloud-hosted application software.

What is PaaS in layman's terms? ›

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a cloud service delivery model where a third-party cloud service provider delivers some hardware and software tools, often those needed for application hosting or development, to customers over the internet.

Is Azure a PaaS or IaaS? ›

Azure offers a massive range of IaaS facilities depending on the needs of your business, from compute and networking to security and storage, including Container Service and Virtual Machines.

Is Netflix a SaaS company? ›

Is Netflix a SaaS? Yes, Netflix is a SaaS organization that provides on-demand videos using the software.

Why IaaS is better than PaaS? ›

The most important contrast between IaaS and PaaS is that IaaS gives administrators more full control over operating systems, whereas PaaS gives consumers more flexibility and ease of use.

What are the advantages of IaaS vs PaaS? ›

While PaaS enables you to create unique applications without hosting them on-premises, IaaS gives you more control over your operating systems. PaaS, therefore, has less control on your end but gives you more flexibility than IaaS. However, which one you choose depends on your business's requirements.

What are the 3 different service models of cloud with full forms? ›

There are three major cloud service models: software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). Cloud service pricing models are categorized into pay per use, subscription-based and hybrid, which is a combination of pay-per-use and subscription pricing models.

What are the 3 types of service model that are mainly present in cloud? ›

There are also three main types of cloud computing services: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

What are three main cloud computing service models? ›

There is confusion about the three main categories of cloud service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Are virtual machines IaaS or PaaS? ›

Basically, VMs are IaaS i.e Infrastructure as a Service as because on a virtual machine you can able to manage what all operations are takes place also what software is installed in it.

Is Salesforce a PaaS or SaaS? ›

Salesforce is the leading SaaS provider with its flagship CRM platform, available exclusively online, as well as its SaaS platforms for marketing, service, and the Internet of Things.

How do I choose IaaS and PaaS? ›

With IaaS, you must implement most integrations yourself. Cost. If saving money is a priority, choose IaaS. In general, PaaS costs more than IaaS because with PaaS, you pay for DevOps tools, the infrastructure that hosts those tools and any applications you run on the infrastructure.

Is Gmail SaaS or PaaS? ›

Gmail is an example of Software as a Service (SaaS). It is a web-based email service that is hosted by a third-party provider and made available to customers over the internet. Gmail is a subscription-based service that is accessed through a web browser.

Is Google a PaaS or IaaS? ›

Google Cloud offerings include IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Its IaaS products allow enterprises to mix and match these services into combinations that provide the precise environment they need. Computing infrastructure in predefined or custom machine sizes to accelerate your cloud transformation.

Is Microsoft Office IaaS or PaaS? ›

Unlike Microsoft 365, which is a software as a service (SaaS) product, Azure has infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) components. To understand the difference between Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 we need to understand what each of these cloud platform terms mean.

What is an example of a SaaS? ›

SaaS uses the Internet to deliver subscription software services, which are managed by a third-party vendor. Well-known SaaS examples include Dropbox, Google Workspace, and Salesforce. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offers access to resources such as servers, storage, memory, and other services.

What are the two types of SaaS? ›

Types of SaaS – What is Horizontal and Vertical SaaS? There are two different types of Software as a Service model, horizontal SaaS and vertical SaaS. A horizontal SaaS is a structure well used by established cloud services such as Salesforce, Microsoft, Slack, Hubspot etc.

What advantage does PaaS offer over SaaS? ›

While IaaS provides just the pay-as-you-go infrastructure for a company, PaaS steps it up by also providing a variety of tools needed to create applications. Meanwhile, SaaS is ready-to-use software that's available via a third party over the internet.

What are the four types of PaaS? ›

  • Public PaaS. Public PaaS solutions are best used in the public cloud and allow users to control app deployment while the vendor delivers and manages all major infrastructure components, including servers, operating systems (OS), databases, storage, etc. ...
  • Private PaaS. ...
  • Hybrid PaaS. ...
  • Communication PaaS. ...
  • Mobile PaaS. ...
  • Open PaaS.
Aug 24, 2021

What is a common example for PaaS? ›

Popular PaaS examples include:
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
  • Google App Engine.
  • Adobe Commerce (previously Magento)
  • Quickbase.
  • OutSystems.
  • Boomi.
Apr 27, 2022

Is Azure a SaaS or PaaS? ›

Microsoft Azure offers underlying Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) servers. IaaS and PaaS are widely used to help build, deploy, and manage applications hosted on Azure.

What is an example of IaaS? ›

Examples of IaaS include Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE) and Joyent.

Is Outlook an example of SaaS? ›

If you've used a web-based email service such as Outlook, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail, then you've already used a form of SaaS. With these services, you log into your account over the Internet, often from a web browser.

Is Azure SQL Database IaaS or SaaS? ›

Azure SQL Database is a relational database-as-a-service (DBaaS) hosted in Azure that falls into the industry category of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

Is Airbnb a SaaS or PaaS? ›

The emergence of mobile, on-demand services like Apple Pay, Uber and Airbnb have largely changed the way their perspective markets do business.

Is Uber a SaaS or PaaS? ›

It is a ride-hailing service that connects riders with drivers through its mobile app. Uber is not a B2B SaaS company, but it does offer a suite of services that businesses can use to manage their transportation needs.

Is Facebook a SaaS or PaaS? ›

An example of PaaS is Facebook.

What is the 3 benefits of IaaS? ›

Increase Security: IaaS providers invest heavily in security technology and expertise. Future-Proof: Access to state-of-the-art data center, hardware and operating systems. Self-Service Provisioning: Access via simple internet connection. Reallocate IT Resources: Free up IT staff for higher value projects.

Which is cheaper SaaS PaaS or IaaS? ›

The SaaS cloud service model is the most affordable, while IaaS is the most expensive. See how IaaS, PaaS and SaaS compare. Generally, SaaS solutions high level of abstraction is better suited for companies and industries where IT infrastructure is less critical.

Which is more secure IaaS or PaaS? ›

IaaS customers must secure their own data, operating systems, and software stacks that run their applications. The PaaS model places more responsibility in the hands of the platform vendors, but it is the customer's responsibility to secure their applications and associated data.

What is a disadvantage of IaaS? ›

IaaS Disadvantages

Data security issues due to multitenant architecture. Vendor outages make customers unable to access their data for a while. The need for team training to learn how to manage new infrastructure.

Which is more expensive PaaS or IaaS? ›

IaaS is very scalable and inexpensive, but it is complicated to maintain. PaaS is very easy to maintain and less expensive than IaaS but not as scalable.

What is the best known service model? ›

6. Which of the following is best known service model? Explanation: The best-known service models are Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service—the SPI model.

What is one of the 4 categories of service models for cloud computing? ›

Cloud Computing Services:
  • Infrastructure as a Service. (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service. (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service. (SaaS)
  • Functions as a Service.
May 16, 2019

Are there three types of cloud database models? ›

The three main types of cloud deployment models are private, public, or hybrid. Selecting your desired model depends on your specific requirements.

What is the most basic cloud service model? ›

There are three main types of cloud computing service models – SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), and PaaS (Platform as a Service). Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and distribution model in which your full-application stack is delivered as a cloud service.

Is Salesforce a SaaS or PaaS? ›

Salesforce is the leading SaaS provider with its flagship CRM platform, available exclusively online, as well as its SaaS platforms for marketing, service, and the Internet of Things.

What are the 5 types of IaaS resources? ›

The computing resources made available through IaaS provided are essentially in the form of virtualized hardware (also known as computing infrastructure). The resources provided through IaaS include network connectivity, server space (virtual), load balancers, bandwidth, and IP addresses.

What is an example of a PaaS? ›

Popular examples of PaaS include Quickbase, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and Boomi.

What is IaaS simply explained? ›

What is IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)? Infrastructure-as-a-Service, commonly referred to as simply “IaaS,” is a form of cloud computing that delivers fundamental compute, network, and storage resources to consumers on-demand, over the internet, and on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Is Zoom a SaaS? ›

So Zoom and Shopify are the latest SaaS leaders to do price increases — albeit very differently.

Is Uber a SaaS service? ›

Uber is a technology company that has revolutionized the way people move around cities. It is a ride-hailing service that connects riders with drivers through its mobile app. Uber is not a B2B SaaS company, but it does offer a suite of services that businesses can use to manage their transportation needs.

Is Apple a SaaS? ›

One of the most popular cloud services is Software as a Service (SaaS), which is a type of cloud computing that allows users to access applications and services over the internet. One of the most well-known examples of SaaS is iCloud, Apple's cloud storage and computing service.

Is Facebook a SaaS? ›

Of course Facebook, Twitter, etc. are software-as-a-service, provided over the internet. But the definition / line for “SaaS” is applications whose business model is primarily a subscription fee for software. Similarly, ecommerce companies are generally not “SaaS”.


1. IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS
2. Iaas, PaaS, SaaS Explained - Knowing the Basics
3. IAAS vs PAAS vs SAAS | Azure Fundamentals
(Software Architecture Matters!!!)
4. Cloud Computing Service Model - IaaS PaaS SaaS Explained | Cloud Computing Tutorial | Simplilearn
5. Iaas, PaaS and SaaS
(Google Cloud Computing Foundation Course)
6. Iaas vs. Paas vs. Saas
(Demystifying Microsoft SMB Office Mix Series)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated: 14/10/2023

Views: 6326

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.