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SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS are popular cloud computing software we use to create, build, and store information in the cloud. This software helps us structure, host and manage all our business activities on the Internet. There is hardly a day where we don’t interact with at least one of these three forms of software – hence the need for a basic understanding of what these cloud computing software do and how we can leverage them more in our business activities. Below, I’ll break down how SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS work in detail, and offer some tips on how to choose the best cloud computing software for your business:
Related: Choosing the Right Cloud Platform for Your Startup
SaaS: Software as a Service
Software as a Service (SaaS) is existing cloud-based software created by (SaaS) companies and made available to the public over the Internet. SaaS offerings are available via subscription or one-time payment. It may also be free.
As an entrepreneur, you frequently use SaaS products to manage your business documents and files (Google Drive), conduct video conferences with your employees (Zoom), collect and connect with potential customers (HubSpot CRM), and send Our business sends business email partners (Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, etc.).
If you follow the example above, you’ll notice that your company doesn’t have to develop its video calling software, but instead pays a subscription fee to Zoom (a SaaS company). You also don’t have to bother building internal storage to hold your business documents like videos, pictures, spreadsheets, and more. Instead, you pay a one-time fee for space for Google Office Suite, a SaaS product.
Your company also doesn’t build the content management software you use to collect leads and send marketing messages to prospects. So, you pay Hubspot a subscription fee and start enjoying the service. Finally, here’s something special: none of this software is directly installed on your computer. Instead, you can access them directly through a website or web application. Here are five examples of popular SaaS offerings:
relaxation: For team collaboration and communication
Center point: For sales, marketing and customer relationship management
new book: For commercial invoicing and accounting
Soaring: For video conferencing and conferences
calendar: For meeting and appointment scheduling
Related: The Rise of SaaS: A New Syllabus for Digital Gig Entrepreneurs
PaaS: Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud-based platform that provides developers with all the resources they need to build custom web applications or software without having to deal with data management and storage. Basically, what a PaaS company provides to a SaaS company is a platform that builds software for you.
In other words, when you pay Zoom to use its video conferencing software, Zoom and its developers create and host their software on Google App Engine, Windows Azure, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
The simple logic here is: while you may have to bear the pressure of hiring in-house engineers to create software for business management, SaaS companies do this for you by leveraging PaaS online platforms to create, build, and host their software .
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t build software yourself. For example, many businesses build some of their own web applications and software and host them directly on PaaS — but it’s highly unlikely, if not impossible, that you won’t end up integrating a SaaS product or two. Here are five examples of popular PaaS companies:
Google App Engine
AWS Elastic Beanstalk
Related: You don’t want to miss out on these benefits of cloud computing
IaaS: Innovation as a Service
As the name suggests, Innovation as a Service (IaaS) is at the center of all activity. Simply put, it is the headquarters of all cloud computing software.
After PaaS companies acted as hubs for creating web applications and software, IaaS was the primary driver for hosting and managing software data. IaaS uses physical servers to host and manage data in the cloud and connect them to PaaS companies through APIs (application programming interfaces).
Therefore, the PaaS company will pay the IaaS company based on the amount of space the IaaS company uses to help the SaaS company host its software. Here are five examples of IaaS companies:
Amazon Web Services
Google Cloud Platform
Choosing the Right Cloud Computing Software for Your Small Business
At some point, you may have to ask yourself which cloud computing software you should use for your business. Should you settle for a SaaS product or hire a team of developers to build all the software you should be using for your company? Should you host your company software at a PaaS company, or should you buy space directly from IaaS? Finally, do you think your company is big enough to build cloud storage like Meta (formerly Facebook) and Walmart?
The simplest answer is that it depends on scale, goals, available resources and business model. For example, if you’re a small to medium business, it’s best to use a quarter of your existing SaaS offerings for your business activities. With this, you can focus on your business product instead of constantly spending time and money updating software. Linkedin, YouTube, and hundreds of other large corporations are still leveraging other SaaS companies for services (eg, streaming webinars on LinkedIn Live using Streamyard).
However, let’s say you feel that the SaaS offerings available are not effective enough for your company’s workloads, or may be less secure. In this case, you can hire a team of engineers to build the software on a PaaS company and connect to an IaaS such as AWS or Google Cloud for cloud storage. For convenience, I often recommend using IaaS companies that offer PaaS services, such as Google Cloud Platform (Google App Engine) and Amazon Web Service (AWS Elastic Beanstalk).
Now that we’ve broken down how SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS work, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about the best path to take for your business. Consider all possibilities and remember to also consider size, goals, available resources and your business model before making a decision.