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Cloud Infrastructure and As-a-Service Solutions

Brian Mackenzie
May 10, 2021
Customer Success, IT & Development

Cloud Infrastructure and As-a-Service Solutions

Cloud Infrastructure and As-a-Service Solutions

With each year, cloud solutions dominate B2B technology industries more and more. On-premises infrastructure and software require hands-on maintenance and can be challenging to scale. Cloud infrastructure and software-as-a-service outsource hosting to improve scalability and reduce management demands. Understanding cloud infrastructure and software will help guide your purchasing decisions.  You can check out the video below for a simple explanation of cloud computing.

Cloud infrastructure providers have differentiated their products as their popularity has grown. You may have noticed a huge variety of software categories with the “as-a-service” suffix. All of these solutions are cloud-based, but they provide infrastructure and services in a slightly different way. Four of the most notable cloud infrastructure solutions are software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, and function-as-a-service.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Of all the cloud service categories, SaaS is the broadest. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are designed to deliver applications to users over the internet.  It covers services many professionals use every day, like Google Workspaces and Dropbox.  SaaS also includes more complex platforms like SalesForce. No matter how complex SaaS solutions get, most are accessed through a web browser.

There are a few key benefits to SaaS applications over an on-premises deployment. The first is that software is delivered entirely over the internet, which makes it easy to manage. IT staff won’t have to implement the software on anyone’s computer, and updates can be delivered automatically. 

Additionally, SaaS applications can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. If an office has to close for a day, every employee can access SaaS applications from their home computer. With the increase in working from home that is likely here to stay, this is more impactful than ever.

Notably, this can also be a downside as you lose access to at least some features of SaaS applications when the internet goes out.

SaaS applications are strong choices for small businesses, as they don’t require a large IT staff to manage their solutions. SaaS solutions can also be good for short-term projects. SaaS solutions don’t require a perpetual license. If you need a SaaS product for just a few months, you can pay for that amount of time. 

SaaS solutions do have some downsides that should be considered. The most notable is data security. Whenever a SaaS application is used, users must pass data across the internet to where the application is hosted. 

On-premises solutions can keep sensitive business data in the on-premises network. SaaS applications also tend to have minimal customization features. SaaS solutions may have settings you can manage, but largely, what you see is what you get with SaaS applications.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Unlike SaaS solutions, IaaS solutions are not individual applications to be used by many employees. Instead, they virtualize parts of your infrastructure that would normally be hardware-based. This allows businesses to manage that infrastructure with a smaller staff of IT professionals. 

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions use virtualization to help businesses manage more of their infrastructure via the cloud instead of on-premises. One of the main goals of IaaS solutions is to enable easy scalability. A business using an IaaS solution can add or remove storage from its infrastructure without expending many resources like one would with physical servers. 

Using IaaS solutions, businesses can create cloud-based development environments. Some of the most popular IaaS solutions are Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, and Amazon Web Services.

IaaS is one of the most scalable options when it comes to cloud computing. Businesses are able to choose what they want to virtualize and what they want to keep on-premise. IT staff can also scale cloud-based portions of the infrastructure up and down at will. This can result in major savings for some businesses as IaaS solutions charge on a pay-as-you-go model.  

IaaS solutions are ideal for small businesses that can use them to meet their needs during growth periods. Without IaaS solutions, it can be difficult to have the exact IT resources you need during a period of growth. This can result in not enough resources to meet demands or overspending on resources you don’t end up needing.

 IaaS solutions can also be useful to larger businesses. Larger businesses may use an IaaS solution for portions of their storage or network that don’t need to be customized.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions provide a tool for application development that abstracts much of the infrastructure associated with development. PaaS solutions allow a third-party provider to host hardware and software for developers to use. This allows businesses to create customized development infrastructure without having to manage it. Some popular PaaS solutions include Heroku, Google App Engine, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

PaaS solutions provide developers with the environment they need to create applications. This makes developers more efficient and lets businesses write applications with fewer lines of code.  While IaaS solutions are popular for creating hybridized infrastructures across an entire business, PaaS solutions are most popular for software development. 

One of the biggest advantages of PaaS solutions is their simplicity. Developers can get the framework they need to work in without having to build or manage the environment. This saves developers time and can allow businesses to save on IT professionals to manage the platform. Much like other as-a-service solutions, PaaS solutions are also highly scalable.

PaaS solutions are a great choice for businesses with a focus on application development. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from PaaS solutions. Businesses can use PaaS solutions to reduce the amount of code needed for development and streamline workflows. Applications built using PaaS solutions will likely have data living in third-party servers. This can be a concern for applications dealing with sensitive information. 

Function-as-a-Service (FaaS)

Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) solutions are the youngest of the as-a-service solutions. FaaS is a cloud computing service that abstracts as much of the development infrastructure as possible.  It can be helpful to think of FaaS as the next step towards abstraction beyond PaaS solutions. FaaS solutions are an important part of building serverless architecture. Some of the most popular FaaS solutions include AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, and Microsoft Azure Functions.

FaaS solutions maximize efficiency by allowing for development in a serverless way. This means businesses pay only when code is running and stop paying as soon as the code is finished. FaaS solutions remove infrastructure, but still achieve high availability and scalability. FaaS solutions are also high speed, with provisioning time as low as milliseconds.

FaaS solutions are best suited for high-volume, regularly scheduled tasks. This can include many tasks on a web application’s backend. FaaS is the fastest and cheapest method for running a small piece of code on a schedule. This is in contrast to PaaS solutions, which are ideal for creating larger, complex applications. A business can make use of both PaaS and FaaS to get the best of both worlds. 

Which Cloud Technology is Right for You?

Even knowing the differences between IaaS, PaaS, FaaS, and SaaS, it can be difficult to determine which solution in each category is right for you. Consider checking out some verified user reviews on TrustRadius. All reviews are real users that share their thoughts on software based on their use case and experience. 

About the Author

Brian Mackenzie
Brian is a Technical Research Specialist at TrustRadius, focusing on product development and data driven technologies. He aims to help buyers make excellent purchasing decisions that meet the needs of their business. Brian has a BS in information science from the University of South Carolina.

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