How to Distinguish IaaS from PaaS and Know the Value Between Them

Platform, Software, Infrastructure

You may be familiar with SaaS, but have you ever heard of IaaS or PaaS? These as-a-service programs are becoming increasingly popular as more and more business functions move to the cloud. But what do the terms “IaaS” and “PaaS” mean, exactly? And why are they important?


IaaS provides companies an infrastructure for networking, storage, and many other functions. At the same time, PaaS gives companies a platform for creating applications. Both of these services are offered over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis, eliminating the need to invest in expensive on-site hardware.


So, what does this mean for your business? Read on for an in-depth look at IaaS and PaaS, the benefits of each, and how you can put them to work for you.

What are the Differences Between IaaS and PaaS?

In the words of BigCommerce, “SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are simply three ways to describe how you can use the cloud for your business.” Each service program has its own set of capabilities and functions, so discussing the differences between them is like comparing apples to oranges.


To fully understand the differences between IaaS and PaaS, let’s take a closer look at each service and what it has to offer.

IaaS: Infrastructure-as-a-Service

Infrastructure-as-a-service, or IaaS, is a highly flexible and scalable service program. With this, you pay a regular fee to “rent” an infrastructure. You are saving money and time over installing on-site hardware and eliminating the added cost of hiring IT professionals to maintain the hardware.


IaaS provides a variety of resources, including:

  • Virtual servers
  • Operating systems
  • Networks
  • Storage
  • Virtualization
  • And many more


Like most as-a-service programs, IaaS is entirely customizable–you only pay for the features you need, and you can scale up or down at any time as your business needs change. This will likely save you a ton of money over buying a one-size-fits-all physical infrastructure.


What’s more, since IaaS is offered virtually, this gives you the benefit of using all the hardware resources without having to install and maintain it.


You don’t have to be technically savvy to use IaaS because the service provider will handle all the updates and maintenance. You simply access the infrastructure from any internet-enabled device and use it as needed.


Examples of IaaS include DigitalOcean, Amazon Web Service (AWS), and Microsoft Azure.

PaaS: Platform-as-a-Service

PaaS, also known as Platform-as-a-Service, is a more specific and specialized type of service model. According to BMC, “The delivery model of PaaS is similar to SaaS, except instead of delivering the software over the internet, PaaS provides a platform for software creation.”


PaaS gives you everything you need to design applications without thinking about operating systems, storage, or other such considerations. Like other as-a-service programs, PaaS is internet-based and requires no installation or updates on your part.


The applications produced through PaaS are referred to as middleware. They can be used for business development, advertising, and various other company needs.


Examples of PaaS include OpenShift, Heroku, and Google App Engine.

What About SaaS?

If you’re already familiar with software-as-a-service, you may have noticed some similarities between Iaas, PaaS, and SaaS. All three of these programs are offered on a pay-as-you-go basis; all are internet-based and provide time-and money-saving alternatives to installing your on-site hardware and software.


If you’re unfamiliar with SaaS, it is a service that allows you to essentially rent and use software programs instead of installing them on your devices. As IaaS and PaaS, it is convenient to use and often preferable to the hassle of installing software.


Examples of SaaS include Dropbox, Cisco WebEx, and Google Workspace.


Since each program offers its own set of resources, there are different situations when one program might be more appropriate than the others. In the following sections, we’ll look at some of the business scenarios and companies most likely to benefit from using IaaS and PaaS.

What is IaaS Good For?

Because IaaS is flexible and customizable, it’s an excellent option for many different businesses and vendors. Some of the types of companies that will benefit the most from IaaS include:


If your company is just starting, you may not be able to afford the massive investment of on-site hardware and software. Or you may prefer to spend time and money elsewhere as you develop your company.


IaaS is an ideal solution for startups because you only pay for what you need at any given time. You don’t have to deal with the hassles involved with maintaining traditional hardware. As your business grows and your needs change, you can quickly scale up, but you will never pay for anything you don’t need or use.

Small Businesses

Small business owners are often busy, stressed, and can’t always afford a lot. If you’re a small business owner, you know that firsthand. You need to focus resources on running the business, gaining clients or customers, and improving goods and services.


IaaS is a lifesaver for many small businesses who can’t afford on-site hardware and IT professionals to maintain it. Again, the pay-as-you-go feature comes into play here: if you only have to pay for what you use and need, it’s going to save you money in the long run.


Plus, IaaS is easy to use and doesn’t take an IT specialist or computer nerd to figure out. Anyone can learn to use it, including busy, absent-minded small business owners.

Growing Companies

Is your company growing fast–perhaps even unexpectedly? Suppose you’re experiencing a surge in sales or traffic. In that case, you may be wondering if your current business model is equipped to handle such an increase.


IaaS is entirely scalable, which means you can add resources as you need them. So, suppose you started as a small business and experienced unexpected growth. In that case, you can quickly scale up from the basic IaaS package you’ve been using to one with more features and offerings. You still only pay for what you need.

Companies that Want to Maintain Control and Flexibility

Whether you own a small business, a growing startup, or a large company, you may want to be the one in control of your infrastructure. Even if you can afford the hardware and IT specialists of traditional infrastructure, you may be drawn by the convenience and flexibility of IaaS.


The great thing about IaaS is that it caters to both small and large businesses. The ability to customize it to your company is a significant selling point. Even companies that have money to spend won’t mind saving dollars on a personalized, easy-to-use infrastructure.


Plus, who wouldn’t love the convenience of being able to access that infrastructure through any internet-enabled device? No software or hardware to maintain, no updates to worry about, no wasted or unused resources. IaaS saves you time, money, and hassle and is easy to personalize. Hence, it’s an excellent choice for any business owner who wants to be in control.

What is Paas Good For?

As mentioned earlier, PaaS is a more specialized type of service program that provides a platform for application development. It is most likely to be used by particular employees or for certain functions within a company, such as:

Multiple Developers

If your company or business has multiple developers working on the same application, PaaS is a convenient option. Maybe your company produces new apps regularly or is always designing apps for company use. Whatever the reason, PaaS is an excellent tool for multiple developers.


Since it can be accessed from any internet-enabled device, it saves time and money. Instead of installing on-site hardware one at a time on each computer, the various developers involved in a given project can simply log on from their computer and use the platform as needed.

Outside Vendors

Accessing the platform from any computer is especially beneficial if you have to hire outside vendors or developers to help with a project.


Depending on your company structure and specific needs for the project, an outside vendor may be able to access the project and work on it from any location. This could save money on travel expenses and would broaden your pool of available vendors.


Even if you bring in an outside developer and need them to work on-site, PaaS can help to streamline the project and speed up the overall process.

Customized Applications

Like other as-a-service programs, PaaS is flexible and easily customizable. Suppose you need highly specific or uniquely customized applications for running your business. In that case, PaaS will enable you to create them quickly and efficiently.


PaaS is generally utilized by software developers within a company to caters more to their knowledge and abilities. Suppose you’re a small business owner or simply want to handle the software development yourself. In that case, there is a bit of a learning curve, and you’ll need to be willing to put in the time and effort to learn.


That said, if you already employ software developers or are willing to hire them, PaaS is a convenient and cost-effective tool for creating customized applications.

Quickly Producing Applications

If you need to develop a new application rapidly, PaaS can simplify the process for you. Challenges and roadblocks will inevitably come up if you’re on a tight deadline. Still, PaaS’s hassle-free platform can both cut down on the problems you may encounter and help you handle any issues that come up.


Also, PaaS may help you produce quick-release applications at a more affordable price. Since you can customize what you pay for and quickly scale up or down as needed, you can access only the tools you need rather than having to buy an expensive package deal that you may or may not ever use again.

Iaas or Paas: Which One is Better?

Now we come to the critical question: If you’re a business owner looking to use as-a-service programs, which one should you choose?


Whether to use IaaS or PaaS will largely depend on your type of business, the employees you have or are willing to hire, and your specific company needs. In some cases, you may want to use both IaaS and PaaS, as well as SaaS.


So how do you decide which services you should use? Let’s take a look at each determining factor below.

Type of Business

What type of company do you have? Is it a small business? A startup? An eCommerce website? These companies will significantly benefit from using IaaS because of the flexibility and wide range of options.


Suppose you run a web development business, or your company relies heavily on running customized applications. In that case, you may want to use PaaS instead. It will give you a reliable platform to handle all your application needs.

Your Employees

Suppose you have a large company and a good working relationship with your existing IT professionals. In that case, you may not need to switch to IaaS. On the other hand, if you can’t afford to keep maintaining your on-site infrastructure, or if you’re wondering whether it’s worth it to hire new IT specialists, it may be time to look into IaaS.


Same with PaaS. If you already have a team of developers, changing to a PaaS system may make the job easier for them and less cost-efficient for you.

Company Needs

If you’re a small business in desperate need of an infrastructure system and you can’t afford the on-site hardware, IaaS may be for you.


If you need a platform for app development and use, PaaS might be just what you need.


Suppose you’re a startup company that relies on customized applications and expects to multiply. In that case, you may want to use both IaaS and PaaS.


Be aware of your own company’s needs and goals. That is the best way to decide not only which service you should use, but whether you need to use them in the first place.

Are There Any Drawbacks of Using IaaS and PaaS?

With all the positive aspects of IaaS and PaaS, you may be wondering if there’s a catch hiding in there somewhere. Experience tells us that nothing is perfect, especially when it comes to technology. What are the drawbacks involved with using these as-a-service programs?


Let’s take a closer look at some of the negative aspects of using IaaS and PaaS.

Drawbacks of IaaS

  • Security. Security is the most common concern with an as-a-service offering. In IaaS, the biggest problem is that data breaches may occur within the company, exposing sensitive information to outside threats.


  • May require training. Though IaaS eliminates the need to hire IT professionals, you may find it necessary to provide training for your workforce, which will cost you some money. An adequate understanding of the system and control of the infrastructure is crucial in avoiding security problems.


  • Legacy systems may cause further security issues. While it is possible to run legacy apps in the cloud, they may need additional security enhancements before storing them in the cloud. This will probably require some further testing and formatting of your apps to make sure they are fully compatible with the IaaS system.

Drawbacks of PaaS

  • Security. The main security issue with PaaS is data security. Because your data is stored on third-party servers, the threat of both internal and external data breaches can’t be ruled out.


  • Difficult to integrate. Integrating legacy components from your old on-site platform with a new PaaS system may prove difficult, if not impossible. This is especially true of any previous system components not made for use in the cloud.


  • Vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in refers to the challenges involved in migrating data and other system components when a particular PaaS offering becomes outdated or unavailable. It can be complicated to move everything to a comparable platform, which may affect your business.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

It’s important to remember that every system, whether on-site or as-a-service, has its pros and cons. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about the various options available, weigh the pros and cons against each other to decide on your business’s best choice.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it. In this article, we’ve discussed Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service, both of which may be useful for business owners and different types of companies. We’ve compared the differences between them, the benefits of each, and some business scenarios in which they would be beneficial.


As more and more business operations move to the cloud, many companies consider these as-a-service programs cost-effective, hassle-free, and customizable. Though IaaS and PaaS each have their flaws, they are useful and convenient for many businesses.

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