IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS - exact similarities and differences in 2022

June 30, 2022

With the increase in remote work, various types of businesses have chosen to give cloud computing services a chance.

Don't believe my word for it?

A recent study suggests that worldwide end-users that spend money on public cloud services are estimated to grow enough to total $397.5 billion by the end of 2022.

This statistic practically means that the number of people who deploy cloud computing solutions is increasing day by day—which is only normal due to the relief they bring to our lives by being more than efficient.

In this article, you will get clarity on the three types of cloud computing, which are broken down as follows:

  • Software as a service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a service (PaaS)

Learning more about them might greatly help your decision process on the best solution for your company when you are thinking of transitioning to a cloud service, so make sure to get the most of it!

What is SaaS?

SaaS (software as a service) is the general name of the cloud-based applications that are hosted by a third-party provider for the clients to purchase and access through the internet in exchange for a subscription fee.

The main reason why SaaS is the most popular cloud computing model is that it offers ready-to-use resources that are run directly through the client's web browser, leaving no room for downloads or installations.

Hosted on a remote server, SaaS management, updates, and maintenance are left at the hands of a third-party vendor. Naturally, this excludes any kind of user intervention due to the client's lack of control.

SaaS examples you might already know: Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, Dropbox, and Slack.

What Is IaaS?

IaaS (infrastructure as a service) is the cloud service that permits cloud providers to virtually deliver resources to clients by using the cloud. What IaaS brings to the table is the ability to build and control operating systems, virtual servers, data storage, and networks while leaving out the purchase of physical hardware for the client.

One advantage of this cloud-based solution is that it does not require the client to set up and manage the physical servers and data infrastructure. This commitment falls into the service provider whose servers are used to store the client's data.

IaaS examples you might already know: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine.

What Is PaaS?

PaaS (platform as a service) is a cloud service model that provides the clients with a framework and tools which they can use to create custom software applications.

Instead of giving access to online software, PaaS gives software developers the chance to build their own software and apps, thanks to the online platform it lends. The client will not commit to any action regarding the data storage, management, and serving during the process.

In a way, PaaS can be considered the platform on which SaaS applications are developed since it bestows servers and data centers with which the client can store their information. Yet, the client is actually a developer building an application from scratch to deliver it over the internet later to gain users that would use the application.

PaaS examples you might already know: Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, OpenShift, and Facebook.

What Are the Differences Between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

As the definition of each cloud service model is given above, it is time to explore new lands that would strongly support the course of distinguishing each and every model of cloud computing, aka differences.

1) Clients

➡️IaaS, offering a cloud infrastructure that grants networking resources and tools, is mostly directed at network architects and IT administrators.


➡️PaaS, offering a software development environment to build, test, and host their applications, is directed at software developers and development teams.


➡️SaaS, offering access to software products available over an internet connection, is directed at end-users.

2) Access

➡️IaaS lets the clients work with a physical infrastructure that encompasses virtual resources, such as a virtual machine, storage, service, and networking.


➡️PaaS lets the clients work within an environment that is only reached out for application development with tools that are needed to run, maintain, and manage an application. 


➡️SaaS lets the clients work with ready-to-use application software and database that is created by the cloud vendor.

3) Model

➡️The model of IaaS is based on delivering virtualized resources that the clients have complete control over their computing infrastructure.


➡️The model of PaaS is based on delivering software tools that the clients have to make use of in order to maintain the process of app development successfully.


➡️The model of SaaS is based on delivering software licenses that are required to make the applications that are hosted by a cloud service provider available for the clients.

4) Technical Knowledge

➡️IaaS requires technical knowledge more than the others due to the fact that the clients take care of the whole setup and management process.


➡️PaaS requires technical knowledge less than IaaS, thanks to its basic setup.


➡️SaaS requires no technical knowledge since the clients do not set up and manage the product but only use it.

5) Control

➡️IaaS gives the clients the highest degree of control by only providing servers for them to control the rest, such as applications, operating systems, and data.


➡️PaaS gives the clients a good degree of control over the code of the applications only—not the infrastructure of the platform.


➡️SaaS gives the clients a minimal degree of control over the cloud-based infrastructure with a say on some of the configurations only.

6) Operational Cost

➡️The operational cost of IaaS is less than the two other types of cloud service.

➡️The operational cost of PaaS is lower than SaaS.

➡️The operational cost of SaaS is the highest among the three solutions.

7) Portability

➡️IaaS offers almost no portability to the clients.

➡️PaaS offers a little amount of portability to the clients.

➡️SaaS offers the highest amount of portability to the clients.

What Are the Similarities?

Having many differences does not mean that the categories of cloud computing do not have any resemblances. These are the similarities they tend to share:

✔️Fast delivery models. They might still have differences in their deployment time, but this does not hinder the fact that they allow clients to use their services at high speed—especially faster than on-premise solutions, which take more time due to the housing of on-premises hardware and software. 


✔️Enabling cost savings. Since what they offer is a cloud-based service that the cloud provider provides, the clients do not have to invest in the purchase of infrastructure or infrastructure management—which is the biggest advantage when it comes to growing your business without spending huge amounts of money on many things, such as total cost of ownership.


✔️Automatic software updates and integration. One of the main features of these three cloud solutions is that they offer software upgrades that are put forth to improve the solutions and processes for the clients, which can be easily tested and deployed in the cloud environment. Also, many of them allow integrations with other applications and tools.


✔️Data security. Security concerns will always be there for as long as you accept to share your data with a third-party vendor; however, each form of cloud computing offers the clients a wide range of security options that guarantee that their data and sensitive information are stored and handled with no security threats lying ahead.


✔️Scalability. A key advantage that comes with these solutions is that clients can measure them according to their business needs and demands. For example, a start-up will have different IT needs than a large company, and these solutions offer them to scale up or down their IT departments according to the business requirements.


✔️Dependency on internet connection. As cloud computing is all about the cloud, it is bound to rely on internet connectivity that allows clients to access all the data that is stored in the cloud. Frankly, there is no method that lets the clients access data from the cloud without the much-needed internet connection.

In short

There is no doubt that many businesses, from start-ups to large enterprises, are switching from traditional methods to cloud computing.

This big shift is due to many advantages that cloud computing services contain: Cost, speed, productivity, reliability, performance, security, and so on.

In this article, these advantages and the differences between each type of cloud computing service are provided above to get you to grasp the features they embed and help you accelerate the decision process for your own and your business' sake.

Renk Mert