Software is an essential aspect of a computer and its popularity depends upon the innovation and programming prowess of the developers. The development process on the other hand is influenced by the development platforms and the resources at hand. Every link in this chain requires some effort and resources to function properly.
Cloud computing is a popular technology that allows users to use remote servers to store, process, and access data. While most of the users are familiar with the storage and accessibility of data, processing the deployment capabilities have had a huge influence upon the software development process as well. These aspects of cloud computing have given rise to some very popular services like SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. Let’s have a look at what these services are and what are the differences between them.
SaaS, also known as Software as a service, is an application or software delivery model where software is delivered to the consumers through the internet. It is a widely utilized model where the servers and other infrastructure required to host the service are developed and managed by a third party. The application is generally accessible through the web browser thereby eliminating the need to download it into the computer.
Examples- Salesforce, Dropbox, Cisco Webex, etc.
PaaS, also known as Platform as a service, is a model where cloud platforms are offered to the developers to build necessary applications. Frameworks, components, and development interfaces in the case of PaaS are accessible on the internet. Here, the operating system, storage servers, and tools are managed by a third-party vendor and developers have the freedom to focus on the programming aspects.
Examples- Google App Engine, Windows Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, etc.
IaaS, also known as Infrastructure as a service, is a cloud computing service model where development infrastructure is offered to the programmers by third-party vendors. In this model, the basic infrastructure needed to develop programs can be utilized as cloud resources, thereby preventing the need to purchase actual hardware. The third-party manages storage and operation-based servers, networking-based infrastructure, and virtualization.
Examples- AWS (Amazon Web Service), Google Compute Engine, Cisco Metacloud, etc.
Delivery in SaaS is done through web interfaces, thereby preventing the need to install the application on every computer. The involvement of a personal IT staff for the maintenance of OS, middleware, and servers is minimal. All these aspects are taken care of by the vendor.
PaaS offers platforms meant for the development of software and applications. These platforms are essentially the applications representing frameworks and development interfaces. The delivery method of PaaS applications is therefore similar to that of the SaaS applications. Web interfaces and browsers are used to access PaaS applications.
In the case of IaaS, the users are responsible for managing the operating systems, middleware, programming applications, and the data. The other infrastructural aspects, however, are provided by the vendors. Virtualization technology is used to provide the control of servers, networking, and storage through APIs. This provides the necessary control of the infrastructure to the users while at the same time preventing the need to physically install and manage the hardware.
Cloud computing has improved the way software is developed, distributed, and utilized. It is responsible for several service models, three among which are being discussed here. At times, it becomes difficult to differentiate between the service models. Here are some characteristics of the SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS based software-
SaaS applications are entirely hosted on remote servers and delivered to the users through the internet.
SaaS applications are managed centrally by the application hosts who are also responsible for the up-gradation and maintenance of the hardware as well as the software.
PaaS applications provide platforms for the development of software programs. The platforms are based on virtualization technology.
The applications provide tools to assist software development and testing, along with integrations for databases and other services.
IaaS provides resources that are needed to be utilized for software development as a service. These services are highly scalable and the utilization costs vary from user to user based on the consumption.
Users are provided with APIs/ Dashboards that allow them control of the allocated resource.
Here are the advantages that the SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS services offer-
SaaS provides an easy option to users when it comes to utilizing the software. Instead of downloading software into their system, installing them, and configuring all the required settings in their computers, users can use them simply through the web interfaces.
Most of the SaaS Development services and products provide solutions and utilities for online resellers, and other commercial organizations making it easier for them to launch their platforms quickly and easily.
SaaS-based software is generally compatible with both mobile and computer use, therefore can be used with devices conveniently.
SaaS-based software comes handy especially in situations where there is a temporary requirement of a particular utility requiring the collaboration of other team members.
PaaS eases the process of software development and deployment by the programmers as they generally provide appropriate utility for both these purposes.
Since the vendors that provide PaaS services make sure their servers can accommodate a lot of users along with providing essential utilities for app customization and libraries, it’s easy for developers to make customized scalable applications conveniently.
PaaS applications also make it easier for developers to switch from the Native app model to the Web application model and vice versa, or to opt for the Hybrid model if required.
IaaS services provide convenience to businesses in terms of managing storage, processing capability networking, and servers.
The consumption and utilization can be varied according to costs and subscriptions and deployment is quick.
The above advantage helps scale the development without having to worry about physical installation and management of hardware infrastructure.
Here are some limitation of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS services-
While generally, vendors provide the integrations that are suitable and common with their software, at times, users come across situations where the utility doesn’t provide and integration with some utilities which creates problems.
With SaaS platforms, there is a level of security risk involved as the data necessarily passes through different data centers and is accessible to some people outside the concerned user-organization.
These issues coupled with the integration issues lead to limited control and customizing capability.
SaaS platforms need to be maintained from time to time, which leads to downtime. Apart from this, any other issue on the vendor’s end leads to performance downtime.
PaaS services may hinder the development process when it comes to integrating the components that are developed through the PaaS platform with the components that are developed on-site.
While the PaaS offers convenience in software development, the platforms may not support certain libraries and frameworks which causes issues for the developers to create custom dependencies.
Limited control over the workflow and management of the PaaS platform may create trouble when it comes to managing and performing customized cloud operations.
Similar to the SaaS platforms, the PaaS platforms also suffer issues related to security, integrations, and compatibility.
IaaS services may pose the need for proper training for the development team to manage the cloud resources properly. Additionally, some resources may be needed to support the operations.
The vendors in IaaS need to maintain the partition in their cloud resources efficiently so that customers don’t accidentally access the data of other customers. The need of isolating the resources is necessary as the resources are dynamically allotted to the users and flaws in resource isolation can lead to a data breach.
Apart from these issues, the IaaS services pose the risk of security issues in the same manner as the SaaS and PaaS applications do.
Cloud computing has revolutionized the storage, processing, and delivery of information, utilities, and services. These service delivery models have made the essential services affordable and highly available thereby making the lives of users and developers easier. While there certainly are some limitations with these models, the advantages of these models outnumber the flaws. With time, the quality and variety of services that these platforms provide have improved considerably and will likely keep improving in the days to come.
Author Name:- Harikrishna Kundariya
Biography:- Harikrishna Kundariya, a marketer, developer, IoT, ChatBot & Blockchain savvy, designer, co-founder, Director of eSparkBiz Technologies. His 8+ experience enables him to provide digital solutions to new start-ups based on IoT and ChatBot.