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IaaS, PaaS and SaaS: What's the Difference? How to Choose Between Them?

Jaroslaw Paprocki 8c0ebd7514
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15/09/2022 |

7 min read

Jarosław Paprocki,

Dominika Reszke

What are the most important differences between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS? This question, in fact, is not a trivial one. These famous acronyms – standing for Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service – may be easy to decipher but finding out what they really mean and how they differ can be quite challenging.

The fact that the number of cloud-based services offered to businesses is already huge and ever-increasing doesn’t make the task easier. On and on, we can hear about new SaaS apps, PaaS solutions, or IaaS tools – and dozens of other cloud-related services and offers.

Apart from IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, the list also covers acronyms such as MbaaS (Mobile Backend as a Service) SECaaS (Security as a Service), StaaS (Storage as a Service), and DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service), to name but a few interesting cloud computing service models. At Codete, for example, we offer CTO as a Service – our assistance in developing a sound IT strategy for your business.

In this article, we’ll shed light on the three most popular models on the list, and give you an IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS comparison.


Table of contents:

1. Cloud computing & cloud services – the basics

2. IaaS, PaaS and SaaS differences

3. How to choose between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

4. IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS – key takeaways

Cloud computing & cloud services – the basics

Of course, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS have a lot in common, too, as they all belong to the cloud computing and cloud services areas. In general, cloud services may be referred to as providing various IT resources over the Internet – via a private, public, or hybrid cloud.

Even if you don’t know exactly what cloud companies are, you probably make use of their products – either at home or at work. Such apps or solutions help people be connected in a variety of ways and are a quintessence of the contemporary approach to communication and collaboration. Dropbox, Slack, Trello, Asana, Salesforce, Netflix, and WhatsApp are some of the household names in this category.

And there are world-renowned cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Cloud, OpenStack, GCP Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, DigitalOcean, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba Cloud. They deliver cloud solutions across industries, enhancing companies’ systems and processes and making them more agile.

We may also distinguish several cloud services by type, including those used for project management, customer relationship management, and human resource management. However, in brief, there are three general types of cloud service offerings – IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS – that can be differentiated.

IaaS, PaaS and SaaS differences

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are all cloud service models (or cloud computing service models) that provide on-demand access to particular cloud-hosted resources. Of course, they can be, and often are, used simultaneously, especially by large, well-off organizations.

The table below shows the most vital differences between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.















Enables access to


Cloud-hosted computing infrastructure components (physical and virtual servers, virtual machines), storage and networking


Cloud-hosted platform for developing, running, and managing applications


Cloud-hosted application software


Notable examples


Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, DigitalOcean, Linode, Google Compute Engine, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)


Google App Engine, Heroku, Engine Yard, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Apache Stratos, OpenShift, Windows Azure


Salesforce, Slack, Google Workspace, Dropbox, ZenDesk, Canva, Amazon Web Services, G Suite, Netflix, Shopify, Zoom


Use cases


Web-based and graphical apps, e-commerce, start-ups, high-performance computers, disaster recovery, IoT


Websites, web apps – automating backend processes; DevOps, IoT, APIs


Advanced IT tools: email, collaboration, sales management, CRM &     HRM apps




  • great flexibility
  • increased scalability
  • affordability
  • pay-as-you-go model
  • improved responsiveness
  • enhanced data security
  • high comfort of use
  • swift mishap and disaster recovery
  • data centers located worldwide


  • greater development capabilities
  • technical viability
  • improved scalability
  • faster app creation
  • increased automation
  • deployment standardization
  • risk reduction
  • innovation enhancement
  • hassle-free (security) updates


  • time management
  • lower up-front cost
  • scalability
  • accessibility
  • rapid deployment
  • quick setup
  • upgrades and customizations
  • ease of management
  • high security levels

Cloud service models – various levels of control

Avoiding huge initial investments in physical hardware – something the traditional on-premises IT models imply – may be very tempting for many businesses and something that can tip the scales in making a decision to go to the cloud. Getting rid of many IT-related responsibilities may be another important factor.

Within the traditional IT model, the company retains complete control over particular IT tasks and functions such as servers, storage, networking, middleware, data, runtime, operating system, or applications. In turn, the IaaS model passes the management responsibilities in a few of these areas to the cloud service provider.

PaaS goes even further in this regard, and in the case of SaaS – the provider takes care and can retain complete control of virtually all IT functions that clients would traditionally manage on their own.

How to choose between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

Now that we have an overview of the basic differences between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, we can get down to analyzing how to choose between them right. Which model is best in particular business circumstances?

IaaS – characteristics

IaaS – granting the users access to virtual services, without the need to buy and maintain infrastructure – is known for its flexibility and adaptability to various business needs due to the pay-as-you-go model. As clients are usually billed per user and by the hour, week, or month, this means that no resources are wasted.

Employees’ performance gets triggered, too, as this cloud computing infrastructure model means higher availability, with almost no downtime and no latency issues. With IaaS, not only ongoing use but also data backup go smoothly, and both test and development environments benefit from using the cloud infrastructure solution.

PaaS – major features

Delivering certain pre-set solutions, including development tools and programming language components, is what the PaaS cloud service model may be boiled down to. With such resources, skilled developers are able to create customized, scalable applications (or middleware), forgetting about „messy and challenging IT plumbing work” the PaaS provider is now taking care of.

Apart from delivering ready-to-use software development kits, the PaaS vendor also hosts the hardware and software using its own infrastructure. The bottom line of using this model is creating and deploying applications that many people use at a time smoother and faster.

check out our insightful article on IaaS >> and PaaS >>

SaaS – pros and cons

Software as a Service can also be called software on demand, or the application service provider (ASP). What sets SaaS apart from other major cloud service models (IaaS and PaaS) is that SaaS-related products – usually SaaS applications – are offered to both B2B and B2C users.

SaaS products are used by hundreds of millions of personal users and are something they simply cannot go without. They get their apps or access to other IT services delivered online by a software provider right away.

Building IT services upon a shared cloud infrastructure is hassle-free for companies but can also raise some security, control, or connectivity concerns, to name but a few SaaS disadvantages.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS – key takeaways

With 94% of enterprises already using cloud services (a staggering number of 1,295, on average) and the future belonging to the cloud companies and their products, it’s vital to know at least the major differences between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS and their use cases.

The cloud is in fact, in the very center of the digital transformation, and some of the basic „as a service” solutions such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are at the forefront of this revolution, underpinning not only the technology world but also the way people communicate, work and live.

As for organizations that adopt them, they enjoy the freedom to decide on the level of control over IT-related tasks and resource allocation, with expenses planned overhead. Deciding to purchase resources on demand from a third-party vendor, companies save a lot of money and get the flexibility and scalability they need to succeed.

Interested in cloud-based services? If you want to find out more about cloud services’ advantages, and game-changing possibilities they offer, contact Codete now.

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
Jaroslaw Paprocki 8c0ebd7514

Jarosław Paprocki

DevOps Engineer at Codete. Automation is the way to go! Japanese martial arts enthusiast (only dogs are more awesome!).

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Dominika Reszke

IT Content Writer with 12 years of professional writing experience. Prefers facts and figures to any kind of fiction.

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