Sunday, June 23, 2024

Services Provided by Cloud Companies: IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, FaaS

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Jillian Castillo
Jillian Castillo
"Proud thinker. Tv fanatic. Communicator. Evil student. Food junkie. Passionate coffee geek. Award-winning alcohol advocate."

Today, online services and websites use many impressive technologies. Even if the end-user is not aware of this, most of the services are offered over the cloud, and technologies with abbreviations such as IaaS, SaaS and PaaS are used for this. So, what do they mean and how do they work? Below, we explain the most common of modern cloud technologies in a way that everyone can understand. 

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

Companies have two options for accessing their networks, storage and other online services: they do all this with their own physical servers or use cloud technology for all of these infrastructure services. IaaS allows companies to access IT services over the cloud without simply purchasing separate hardware. In this context, all servers, network infrastructure, operating systems and storage solutions are hosted on virtual data centres. There is no need to physically maintain or manage this infrastructure, and it is possible to access everything online via a dashboard (or API). According to the company’s needs, IaaS capacity can be increased or decreased.

IaaS offers access to scalable services and provides a dynamic and flexible infrastructure without high costs. Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Rackspace are among the most well-known IaaS services. Because it reduces costs, IaaS is especially preferred by small and medium-sized businesses. However, there are some security risks caused by virtual machines, and it may not be possible for companies like to move every program they use to the cloud. This requires the use of new programs and training on how to use them, which can result in wasted time and increased costs.

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SaaS (Software as a Service)

This simply means using the internet to deliver a company’s applications to employees. For example, a company can use SaaS to deliver the same applications to all salespeople and have them all work in sync without worrying about server, storage, middleware, etc. These apps are web-based and can run on any device without the need for a download. It is very advantageous in terms of IT because it completely automates the tasks of installing, managing and updating applications.

Since any data entered by a user will be synchronized automatically, every employee gets access to up-to-date data. This is particularly useful for stock tracking and offers a huge advantage for e-commerce. Although SaaS has many advantages, it is not compatible with almost any program used by companies because it uses its own private infrastructure. It must be installed from scratch, and users must be trained. In addition, it is almost impossible to customize. The most well-known SaaS examples are Salesforce, SAP, and Cisco WebEx. It is possible for Google GSuite Apps to be considered an example of SaaS as well.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)

PaaS and SaaS are similar in many ways, but PaaS works like a platform rather than out-of-the-box applications. You can think of PaaS as an empty framework: companies can fill it with applications that fit their specific needs. After this happens, the experience is the same as with SaaS because the developed applications can be accessed from any device, synchronization occurs automatically, and there is no need to worry about issues such as updating/storage.

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The difference with PaaS is that it gives you the chance to choose what these applications will be and what features they will contain. If you start using a SaaS service, you cannot change its content: you have to use existing applications. However, with PaaS, you can create a SaaS service with applications specific to you. In this context, you can see PaaS as a platform where personal SaaS applications can be developed. AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, and OpenShift are the most well-known PaaS services.

PaaS, unfortunately, still has integration problems. It is often not possible to develop PaaS versions of applications that companies already use. The final product is more personalized than SaaS but may still need to be developed from scratch. Also, migrating to a PaaS service may require businesses to take a long break. 

FaaS (Function as a Service)

Program developers also have to manage and configure the servers on which these programs will run because this is the platform on which their code will run. FaaS removes this requirement and enables “serverless” application development. The written code can work independently of the infrastructure (i.e., the server). There are also servers in the FaaS model, but developers do not have to take them into account when doing their work. It is only necessary to write certain functions and select triggers (e.g., HTTP requests) that determine when they will run. You don’t have to think about “TechStack”, which means the features of the server such as CPU, RAM, disk, and OS.

FaaS is a particularly suitable technology for IoT because it runs entirely from the cloud, allowing applications developed in a serverless manner to run on literally anything, without the operating system and hardware constraints. Amazon AWS Lambda, IBM Cloud Functions, Google Cloud Functions and Azure Functions are the most well-known FaaS services. The most important disadvantage of this technology is that it is close to impossible to switch between service platforms. For example, you cannot migrate an application that you started developing on Amazon AWS Lambda to IBM Cloud Functions. So, you become dependent on the service you initially chose.

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