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What is Cloud. And what are IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

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The word “Cloud” is getting more heard and used with days passing by. So what actually is a Cloud (or) a Cloud platform (or) Cloud computing (or) Cloud services. Basically these are platform, computing ability, services respectively which are hosted in some part of the world and are accessible over Internet.

To understand the best, we can take an example like electricity. In general, You just use electricity as an utility and pay according to the usage. You would seldom have to build, maintain and generate your own electricity – because of the comfort you receive using electricity as an utility. Cloud services can be mapped to the same concept.

Cloud computing services can be of three kinds, private, public and hybrid. And they act as the name suggests. Many articles can be found in the internet on the definitions, pros and cons.

Three such major cloud service providers are:

  1. Microsoft Azure – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/ 
  2. Amazon web services – https://aws.amazon.com/ 
  3. Google cloud – https://cloud.google.com/ 


Related to cloud, you might usually hear about three kinds of services (or) service providers.

  1. IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service
  2. PaaS – Platform as a Service
  3. SaaS – Software as a Service

The picture below can be a great illustration with an example “car”. And is quite self-explanatory.


Important points to note:

  • As you move away from “On premise” environment/service to “SaaS”. The control you have over your the environment/service will be lesser.
  • And at the same time, as you move away from “On premise” environment/service to “SaaS”, the cost per hour could be greater as it involves multiple parties and is moving more towards service oriented approach.
    However, this necessarily need not be true, as the total costs involved could be optimized with proper analysis and design.
  • One notable advantage I would like to highlight regarding moving towards “SaaS” approach is the amount of Research and development the Cloud servicing partners would do is much more than an “On premise” team. So if you want to be up to speed in this ever-changing technology race, Service oriented approach could be the way to go.

Hope this helps. Please share your feedback/questions, if any. Thanks.

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