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) Cloud Computing Services Models - IaaS PaaS SaaS Explained


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

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

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, PaaS, SaaS Explained - Knowing the Basics

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.


What is IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS simplified? ›

IaaS builds the infrastructure of cloud-based technology. PaaS helps developers build custom apps via an API that can be delivered over the cloud. And, SaaS is cloud-based software companies can sell and use.

What's the difference between IaaS PaaS and SaaS? ›

PaaS vs SaaS

In a nutshell, IaaS provides access to resources such as virtual machines and virtual storage, PaaS provides execution environments, application development, and deployment tools, and SaaS provides software as a service to end-users.

What are SaaS IaaS and PaaS elaborate with proper examples? ›

Unlike SaaS users, IaaS customers must manage the applications, runtime, middleware, operating systems, and data they access.
Common examples of PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS.
SaaSGmail, Slack, and Microsoft Office 365
IaaSAmazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine
1 more row
Apr 27, 2022

What is the differences between PaaS and IaaS? ›

IaaS is there to provide you with maximum flexibility when it comes to hosting custom-built apps, as well as providing a general data center for data storage. PaaS is most often built on top of an IaaS platform to reduce the need for system administration.

What is IaaS PaaS SaaS in layman 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.

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.

Is Netflix IaaS PaaS or SaaS? ›

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

What is IaaS and PaaS in detail? ›

IaaS is used to build the framework of a cloud-based system. Developers can use PaaS to create custom software which can be provided via the cloud via an API. SaaS, on the other hand, refers to cloud-based software that companies may buy and use.

What is a good example of PaaS? ›

Popular examples of PaaS include: AWS Elastic Beanstalk. Windows Azure. Heroku.

Is Microsoft a PaaS or IaaS? ›

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 PaaS in simple terms? ›

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications.

What is the difference between IaaS and PaaS in Azure? ›

Azure IaaS requires your organization to acquire and maintain development tools and other software from the start, entailing a potentially significant financial outlay. With Azure PaaS, you pay for tools only when you need them.

Which is better IaaS PaaS SaaS? ›

For companies that need out-of-the-box services like CRM (even CRM for Gmail), email, collab tools, then it's best to choose SaaS. If you need a platform for building software products, then you should go with PaaS. If you need a virtual machine, go for IaaS.

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.

What are the 3 main types models in cloud computing? ›

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). Choosing a cloud type or cloud service is a unique decision.

What is IaaS give example? ›

IaaS is a cloud service where a cloud service provider (CSP) rents out highly scalable and automated IT infrastructure, usually over the internet, to a small and medium business (SMBs) or individual developers. Popular IaaS examples include Amazon EC2, Rackspace, Windows Azure, and Google Compute Engine.

Is Facebook a PaaS? ›

Facebook is an example of PaaS. Developers can create specific applications for the Facebook platform using proprietary APIs and make that application available to any Facebook user. Some applications integrate a user's Twitter and Facebook account, others integrate a database with a Facebook profile.

Is Gmail a PaaS? ›

A simple example of SaaS is an online email service, like Gmail. If you use Gmail, you are not hosting your own email server. Google is hosting it, and you are simply accessing it through your browser-as-client.

Is Google a PaaS? ›

Google's main PaaS platform, App Engine, is similar to Azure App Service in that it supports the development and deployment of applications written in a variety of languages and frameworks.

Is Gmail SaaS PaaS or IaaS? ›

SaaS allows people to use cloud-based web applications. In fact, email services such as Gmail and Hotmail are examples of cloud-based SaaS services.

Is Spotify a PaaS? ›

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox and Slack are common SaaS products, in which the product is then delivered to users over the internet on a subscription basis, giving users the flexibility to not have to worry about upfront installation purchases or ongoing maintenance costs.

Is Apple a SaaS company? ›

SaaS Comapanies Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Apple. Most of the world's largest and most valuable companies are or operate in part of their operation in the SaaS model.

Why is IaaS better than PaaS? ›

Why is IaaS better than PaaS? Unlike PaaS, IaaS offers its customers direct access to its cloud servers and storage. It provides more flexibility, scalability, and networking layers. You don't have to buy and install the underlying infrastructure because you can outsource it instead.

Is Amazon S3 an example of PaaS? ›

Data Platform as a Service (PaaS)—cloud-based offerings like Amazon S3 and Redshift or EMR provide a complete data stack, except for ETL and BI.

Is Google Drive an example of PaaS? ›

And Paas is the combination of the software and hardware tools available over the internet. Is Google Drive a SaaS? Yes, Google Drive is a SaaS. The reason is that all you need to do is to log in, and you immediately have access to a spreadsheet application, a word processor, and a presentation creator.

What is the three benefits of PaaS? ›

Time Savings: No need to spend time setting up/maintaining the core stack. Speed to Market: Speed up the creation of apps. Future-Proof: Access to state-of-the-art data center, hardware and operating systems. Increase Security: PaaS providers invest heavily in security technology and expertise.

What is IaaS SaaS PaaS What are other similar abbreviations? ›

Software as a Service (SaaS) Platform as a Service (PaaS) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

What is the difference between PaaS vs IaaS in Azure? ›

Azure IaaS and PaaS are two Microsoft Azure services used to create, organize, run, and maintain applications supported by Azure. The Azure IaaS toolkit supports both on-premises and off-premises elements, whereas Azure PaaS services list only cloud-hosted server metrics.

Is Netflix an example of PaaS? ›

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

What are the 4 types of cloud computing? ›

Four Types of Cloud Computing
  • Private Clouds. A private cloud is a type of cloud computing environment that provides IT infrastructure services to a particular user or organization. ...
  • Public Clouds. ...
  • Hybrid Clouds. ...
  • Multi-Clouds.
Dec 21, 2022

What are the three main components of IaaS? ›

IaaS is broken into three main components: compute, network, and storage. With these offerings, users have the building blocks they need to create their customized systems, as complicated or powerful as they need, and the ability to scale up and down based on current needs.

What are the 3 types of cloud computing? ›

Types of Cloud Computing
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) ...
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) ...
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

Are virtual machines IaaS or PaaS? ›

VM's are IAAS (Infrastructure as a service) because on a VM you can manage what operation system runs and what software is installed.

What is cheaper IaaS or PaaS? ›

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


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