Articles 24/04/2020

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS – Cloud Service Model. Difference and Examples

What is cloud? What do IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS abbreviations mean? In this article we'll answer these questions, and clarify the key characteristics of three cloud service models.


Briefly, cloud computing is a simple way of providing via the Internet connection remote access to the software and hardware appliance, including servers, databases, storage, and various applications.

You can operate various cloud services via specialized apps that do not require either installation or purchase of hardware and software. These applications are installed on hardware in the data center of the cloud service provider, so you only should download the interface for managing them. Really, cloud apps look virtual to you; however, they are physical de facto but just remoted from you.

In recent years, cloud technologies became much more widespread being one of the most effective tools for business. Companies that know the worth of money quickly estimated the value of cloud services — cloud services enable businesses to increase IT capabilities or computing power, eliminating the need to purchase additional software, equipment, or hiring new employees. Also, no need for investment in the extra training of staff of system administrators as the provider is responsible for the support for infrastructure deployed in the cloud.

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are three types of service models of cloud solutions for now. The simplest example to clarify their essence and interaction is a cake that has a pie shell (IaaS), a layer of buttercream (PaaS), and toppings (SaaS). These cloud service models are "layered" on each other. There is also a frosting decor — various additional services of BaaS, RaaS, DraaS, etc., which provide additional functionality.

Let's consider each of the service models in detail, deciphering obscure abbreviations.

IaaS, SaaS, PaaS — what's the difference?


IaaS, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, is the essential-base level of cloud solutions. It includes everything — hardware infrastructure, networks, communication lines, storage, and all necessary software. Using a virtual interface, you can easily configure IaaS, add preinstalled software and additional services, or change computing resources on-demand. E.g., you can choose another combination of vCPU and RAM or increase storage space. Or in the case when your rented virtual resources are not fully used due to lack of load, you can temporarily disable or reduce some capacities, and then you will pay less for using IaaS. IaaS systems are easily manageable and intuitive for users.

The best-known providers of IaaS are Google, Amazon EC2, IBM, Rackspace Cloud Servers, Verizon, and SIM-Networks.



PaaS, Platform-as-a-Service, is a cloud services model within which a provider delivers to customers a platform for deployment of all apps that the customer needs in. For example, the platform may be a mail server, a database management system, a web server, a development and testing environment, a backup server, etc.

Despite that PaaS and IaaS have some features in common, PaaS users can use the environment, applications, but are not able to scale the infrastructure. In other words, a user cannot detach unused capacities or change the configuration of instances (as it is done in SIM-Cloud Dashboard, for example). The difference between IaaS and PaaS: within the framework of the Platform-as-a-Service model, you get a computing platform and a solution stack, but you do not affect the configuration of the virtual infrastructure.

The PaaS model provides a sandbox and pre-set deployment environment that allows users to develop, test, and deploy their apps. At the same time, a reasonable using API makes working with PaaS as efficient as possible.

Examples of PaaS solutions are Google App Engine, VMWare Cloud Foundry, IBM Bluemix, etc.

Advantages of PaaS Solutions:

  • the PaaS service provider is responsible for all updates, patches and routine maintenance of the software;
  • the customer shouldn't invest in equipment and software, because the provider provides all the necessary;
  • flexibility in deploying the platform — the PaaS provider fully manages the development, testing, and deployment infrastructure.


SaaS, Software-as-a-Service, is a cloud service model within which a customer uses various software products and apps deployed at the provider’s platform. Unlike IaaS and PaaS, customers of the SaaS service model are often individuals who use, e.g., an email service, an online cinema, a small cloud file storage, instant messenger, etc. Social networks also work on the SaaS model. Widely used a website building SaaS. Sometimes the provider of such a service can provide its customers with both the software needed to create the site and webhosting.

Corporate customers of SaaS providers use video conferencing apps, ERP and CRM systems, business process automation systems, project management, and time management applications, email services, etc. Examples of SaaS solutions are Gmail, Livejournal, Jira, Confluence, Bitrix, WordPress, Citrix, etc.

The cost of SaaS solutions varies in a wide range — they can be provided both by subscription and by the pay-to-use model, or even free of charge. At the same time, the customer pays only for software rental and not carried about the problems of licensing, upgrades, technical support, etc. Due to this, the SaaS model is actively used by the SMB segment.

Advantages of SaaS solutions for companies:

  • access to services regardless of time and geographical location via the Internet;
  • no need to spend money on specialized staff to support, hardware upgrades and software updates because all these issues solve the provider;
  • fast scalability is available;
  • various grades of user access and permissions;
  • comprehensive service and support.
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Cloud technology for corporate clients is state-of-the-art, cost-efficient, and very convenient. Enterprises can easily reduce their costs by converting from capital costs (Capex) to operating (Opex) and increase operational efficiency using cloud solutions. The organization of the cloud infrastructure and the transfer of company information systems to it is quick, with minimal downtime of the customer’s business processes.

You can easily choose a service model of cloud solutions based on clearly analyzing your needs and capabilities. But the essential is to select the right cloud provider.

If you are looking for reliability, security, competence, and an individual approach, a partnership with SIM-Networks is the best choice. Our rich and long-term expertise in the IT infrastructures market allows us to implement projects for a wide variety of sophistication. For creating our cloud solutions, we use Enterprise-class network and server equipment, and host it in Germany, in two Tier III+ data centers certified with ISO/IEC 27001. It is an additional guarantee that your data will be safe.

Want to try launching your first cloud project? Contact us, and our technical consultants will select the best option for you to solve critical business issues.




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