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SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS - definition, differences, and examples

SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS - definition, differences, and examples

The rise of cloud-based services

The demand of cloud-based services has seen enormous growth over recent years with the global public cloud computing market expected to cross the 300 billion mark in 2020 itself. Having access to data from any part of the world remains the top reason for companies to pivot to cloud services.

Some interesting Statistics of Cloud-computing

  • Cloud infrastructure spending has exceeded the 80 billion mark in 2018
  • Hybrid Cloud-adoption is 58%
  • Cloud data centers are projected to process 94% of workloads in 2021
  • AWS (Amazon Web services) is the top cloud vendor with around 32% market share

As-a-service types have risen a lot with SaaS (Software as a service) being the hottest trend that has accounted for the majority of share. However, there have been two other terms which have garnered the attention - IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Product as a Service).

People often get confused between these terms and in this article, we’ll thoroughly explain the differences between all 3 of them (SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS) along with the definitions, examples and when to use each of them. 

Let’s first get started with the definition and understanding of - SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS


Software as a service is the most popular cloud service which is also known as cloud application services. Utilizing the internet, it is managed by a third-party operator who is responsible for all the licenses and updates. The users just have to pay the subscription charges. SaaS apps do not consume any of your computer or hard drive space as they can be directly accessed through web browsers.


Platform as a service, also referred to as cloud platform services provide a platform to customers for developing, running and managing the applications. It helps them to create custom applications without worrying about the servers and networking which is done by the third-party platform providers. 

The only major difference between SaaS and PaaS is that - SaaS provides access to the software over the internet while PaaS provides a platform for software development.


Infrastructure as a service, also known as cloud infrastructure services are the best alternative to buying physical servers. Companies can now just offload this to IaaS firms that offer on-demand resources.

Hence, unlike SaaS and PaaS, IaaS is a whole virtualization technology where clients have access to the whole infrastructure through an API or dashboard.

Pros & Cons of SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS

SaaS advantages and disadvantages

SaaS Advantages

  • Users do not have to worry about software or hardware updates and maintenance as well
  • Accessible to users across any part of the world
  • Doesn’t require storage space for installation
  • Try and Use (most of the companies offer free-trial)

SaaS Disadvantages

  • Inability to customize according to your requirements
  • Data Security which still remains the biggest pitfall of cloud services
  • Performance and features - You might not like the new version or update and you cannot do anything about it

PaaS advantages and disadvantages

PaaS Advantages

  • Robust, Scalable and Cost-effective solution for application development
  • Enables programmers to customize without worrying about maintenance
  • Offers vast services to help in the development, testing and deployment of apps.
  • Ease of migration to Hybrid cloud

PaaS Disadvantages

  • Again, Data security as it resides in third-party
  • PaaS might not be available for your choice of frameworks and technology
  • Migration - switching to another PaaS may not be seamless and can affect your business.

IaaS advantages and disadvantages

IaaS Advantages

  • Users have complete control of the infrastructure
  • Users can purchase the hardware/resources as needed
  • Multiple users on a single hardware.
  • It is indeed the most flexible and scalable cloud computing service

IaaS Disadvantages

  • Yet again - Security. While the users have full control over the infrastructure but cybersecurity specialists have still raised the concerns of source host or virtual machines (VMs)
  • Steep learning curve- Companies need to train their workforce in order to effectively manage the infrastructure.

When to use SaaS

As said, SaaS eliminates the need of downloading the software on each and every employee’s system. As it can be accessed from any part of the world and purchased on subscription bases, companies can opt for any ready-made SaaS application and omit themselves from creating a custom software which might be a tedious task that can burn their pockets deep.

Popular SaaS Examples

When to use PaaS

This cloud service can be really advantageous in situations when companies want to develop bespoke applications as it streamlines the workflow allowing a number of programmers to work on the same project. Furthermore, it can be cost-effective oftentimes and speeds up the process.

Popular PaaS Examples

When to use IaaS

Infrastructure as a service is the most scalable and flexible cloud service and will be suitable for both small and big businesses as it can be purchased based on requirements. And companies experiencing rapid growth can also take the benefit to save themselves from creating large software or hardware.

Popular IaaS Examples

Wrapping Up

So, we’ve listed some of the major differences, advantages and examples of all the three popular cloud services i.e SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. We also explained which type of companies are suitable to use these services and depending upon your needs, you can choose the apt solution accordingly. With data security being the only substantial hurdle in cloud computing services, it’s still projected to grow tremendously. And investing in this cloud computing industry will definitely won’t go in vain.

If you’re planning to set up a cloud business model, reach out to Citrusbug for a free consultation regarding the development process, technology stack and a complete road-map.

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