Making sense of the cloud: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS explained

September 14, 2014

Cloud computing is one of the most important technologies in the world right now, but it can be extremely confusing at times.


Cloud application services — or software-as-a-service (SaaS) — represent the largest cloud market and are still growing quickly. SaaS uses the web to deliver applications that are managed by a third party vendor and whose interface is accessed on the clients’ side. Most SaaS applications can be run directly from a web browser without the need for any downloads or installations, although some require small plugins.


Cloud platform services — or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) — are used for applications, and other development, while providing cloud components to software. What developers gain with PaaS is a framework they can build upon to develop or customize applications. PaaS makes the development, testing, and deployment of applications quick, simple, and cost-effective. With this technology, enterprise operations, or third party providers, can manage operating systems, virtualization, servers, storage, networking, and the PaaS software itself. Developers, however, manage the applications.


Cloud infrastructure services — known as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) — are self-service models for accessing, monitoring, and managing remote data center infrastructures, such as compute (virtualized or bare metal), storage, networking, and networking services (e.g. firewalls). Instead of having to buy hardware outright, users can purchase IaaS based on consumption, similar to payment for electricity or other

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