If you don’t live and breathe tech industry language, you might be a little confused about all the acronyms that end with “as-a-service” out there today. These include software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). All these are forms of cloud computing, but before you dive into one or the other, here’s a quick guide to help you understand each a little better.
The Expansion of the Cloud
Not long ago, most companies housed their data in on-premise servers. Still, as data volumes grow exponentially year after year, it’s expensive and difficult to have enough servers plus the facilities and staff to manage them on-site. On-site data storage puts your data at risk of loss from theft, fire, natural disaster, flood, or something similar.
For that reason, most companies are moving their data to the cloud. All three services are growing significantly as companies look for ways to reduce costs and improve data security, but there are a few key differences between them.
Comparing SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS
The easiest way to compare these three types of cloud computing is by looking at what you manage vs. what a third party manages regarding hardware and software applications. These three options are like a series of “steps” where the third party manages progressively more as you move through each step.
For on-premise data storage, you manage everything:
- Operating system (OS)
As you move to IaaS, PaaS, then SaaS, more of these things are delivered via the internet (you can check out a visual of this on Hosting Advice).
- IaaS: you manage applications, data, runtime, middleware, and OS
- PaaS: you manage only applications and data
- SaaS: a third party manages everything
You can use a combination of two or more of these services, but that often depends on the size and complexity of your needs. Unless you already have a robust IT infrastructure or are a company that develops your own software, SaaS products often make the most sense because they give you access to the tools you need without any significant investment in infrastructure and hardware. All the tools are delivered via the internet, and the third-party vendor manages data security, maintenance, and compliance for you.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Each
Once you know what each one does, the next step is to explore when each is applicable and some of the advantages and disadvantages they offer.
- You maintain control of a lot of your IT infrastructure
- It’s easy to scale up as your business grows
- It is usually a safer and more cost-effective option than investing in physical hardware
- It can be costly and require a lot of labor (employees) to manage properly
- A third-party vendor gives you the hardware and software tools you need, and you use it to develop your own applications
- Gives you the tools you need to develop your own software applications without the high costs to purchase and maintain on-premise IT hardware
- There is little investment and lower risk with this approach if your business is centered around building software, or you want to develop in-house or proprietary applications
- Can save your developers a lot of time and money while writing code
- Everything is delivered entirely over the internet
- There are no hardware or software requirements (just internet access)
- These platforms usually come with a simple fee structure, such as a monthly subscription or license model; costs are fixed and you know what they will be
- You can easily add new members of your team with the purchase of additional licenses or by upgrading your subscription tier
- Information on the platform is accessible from anywhere and any device
For most companies, the simplicity and hassle-free nature of SaaS make it a popular choice. Solutions are ready out of the box (and most can be customized for your needs), plus all the maintenance, compliance, and security are taken care of in your agreement.
GUIDEcx offers your company a SaaS solution for client onboarding that is simple and easy. Our platform gives you all the tools you need to get clients onboarded easily and collaborate with your team and clients.
One of the unique features we provide is the ability to white-label our onboarding project management system, so your clients will only see your logo and your company information during the onboarding process. On the back end, you’ll have access to all our tools to create a seamless experience for clients without the need to develop your own software program.
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