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IaaS, PaaS, SaaS: What's the difference and how to choose the right model

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IaaS, PaaS, SaaS: What's the difference and how to choose the right model

Stefano Oddone | Nov 27, 2018

As of today, we essentially deal with three potential Cloud models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). You may have heard it said that each model responds to the needs of different business scenarios but if you remain in doubt about which scenarios are serviced by which Cloud model - you've come to the right place. In this blog, I'll provide you a simple explanation of IaaS, PaaS and Saas, the unique benefits of each model and how to know which one is right for your business context.

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS Defined:

Starting from the very basics, below you can refer to the briefest available definition of each type of Cloud service model:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) refers to ondemand availability of infrastructural resources
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) refers to a platform and developing environment offered by a provider
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to application solutions for business processes, for which the management and innovation of said processes is managed by a provider



Understanding the "as a service" model most suitable for your business need


An IaaS model allows users to exploit benefits from infrastructures by reducing the costs related to maintaining an on-premise infrastructure, allowing companies to reduce both human and technical resources and focus those resources on activities of higher strategic value for the business.

One of the many advantages of IaaS is the guarantee of better scalability and elasticity in responding to workload variations that systems and applications generate due to changing features of the enterprise, such as, acquisitions,new divisions, or down scaling.

Another relevant aspect is compliance to norms and security standards: for enterprises where IT is not part of their key-processes, Cloud adoption allows them to delegate IT services to companies whose core business is centralized on these activities. This provides the customer with constantly up to date security policies and dedicated technologies and infrastructures available at both national and international levels.

For many customers, the idea of outsourcing infrastructure to an "as a service" model can be slightly overwhelming. It's important to evaluate a SAP outsourcing partner based on the criteria most important to you (i.e. look for flexible changes? Pay attention to the SLA - and have a discussion about how exceptions will be managed). Techedge offers SAP Infrastructure as a Service through our SAP Certified Hosting Operations: Seamless Systems. Seamless Systems is a fully SAP audited and compliant onshore/nearshore hosting service with a flat-rate payment model, cybersecurity services and aggressive SLA's. 

Learn more about Seamless Systems SAP Hosting in the Public Cloud



PaaS modality is particularly useful to those enterprises benefiting from a "peculiar" management of their core processes. From an IT viewpoint, these processes cannot be properly supported by standard solutions on the market and require very specific developments.

The adoption of PaaS modality guarantees increased flexibility that today’s on-premise platforms cannot yet provide. More specifically, in terms of integration of heterogeneous environments - which offers the opportunity to work with instruments and services based on state-of-the-art technology available on the market.

This allows enterprises to quickly develop highly-innovative solutions, by providing clients up-to-date offers, an increasingly fascinating multi-channel user experience and satisfying services.

In addition, PaaS technology allows any organization to seize opportunities offered by Big Data technology, Machine Learning and artificial Intelligence applications. Such themes can be grouped under the term Advanced Analytics and can be real enablers of innovation and success, if implemented in the right corporate cultural and organisational environment.

The PaaS model enables companies to approach projects in trial and error mode and to identify new delivery models embracing “fail fast” strategies; it has to be simple and cheap to setup a laboratory or a test environment to quickly validate or not assumptions and eventually shut it down if it’s no longer needed. Organizations operating with a strict logic of planning investments and related objectives can finally evolve into fluid organizations, making their capacity to adapt to market changes a truly competitive strength.

SAP released its PaaS solution in 2012, making it by now a highly mature platform to manage a broad array of business needs through its various built in services, such as: integration, mobile, data management, machine learning, collaboration...  and this is just touching the tip of the iceberg. To understand better the features and value of SAP CP PaaS and the, download the Beginner's Guide to SAP Cloud Platform.

E-Book: Beginner's guide to SAP Cloud Platform



Software as a Service concentrates its value on continuous innovation of solutions, support of corporate processes and on reducing time-to-value, that is, the speed by which a corporation manages to make those solutions available to users via web/mobile.

In addition, a SaaS model has the advantage of facilitating processes standardization, both in the case of internal processes (such as Order to Cash, Procure to Pay, recruiting and/or talent management) and in the case of processes that characterize operative functions (such as selling cycle management and, generally speaking, Customer lifecycle management). In this scenario, processes or functionalities engineering offered by a Cloud Service Provider guarantees cost-cutting for the end client in light of their continuous innovations.

Some clear examples of Software as a Service include Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox and Google Suite. Line of business solutions are also available, including:


In Conclusion

In just a short span of time, cloud has truly revolutionized the IT landscape. Today, understanding how cloud technology can create value in an organization across different metrics such as agility, scalability, flexibility and cost savings is an integral part of most every business decision.

More than this, given the complexity and variety of needs that every company has to satisfy in the fastest and more efficient way it’s pretty clear that the best choice is often a combination of the available models, with a mix that depends and represents every single company scenario.

Interested in understanding more about Cloud?

In addition to referring to available materials like Running SAP workloads on the Cloud or this simple guide to SAP's PaaS solution - feel free to connect with us to discover how we can help you master cloud adoption in your business.

Contact Techedge