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Salman Saleem
Salman Saleem

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IaaS vs PaaS: Infrastructure as a Service VS Platform as a Service

To begin with, many businesses are going online. They are relying heavily on the cloud to facilitate their clients, which demands to collect, storing, and processing a vast amount of data before it can be presented to the end-user as information. This is where cloud-based web applications come in to play. In this article, we’re going to discuss IaaS vs. PaaS in detail so that you can grasp a better understanding of how cloud-based services can help you scale your business.

They help you store, process, and retrieve data and then present it as information – forms, interactive content management systems, shopping carts, word and spreadsheet processing apps, and so on – before your clients so that you can scale your business with minimum effort.

Introducing Web Applications

Web applications let you integrate your data and consolidate everything into a single place, which minimizes the chances of human error and makes data management more efficient. You can launch them in a browser window and access them from any device or operating system. This greater accessibility, coupled with convenient scalability and maintenance, means that web applications are the way to go.

Web applications require a server to run, and the majority of them rely on the cloud. Cloud-based applications can be thought of as web applications that can also be accessed when you’re offline.

Now that you’ve established a better understanding of web applications, let’s move on to understanding IaaS vs. PaaS carefully. But first, what is IaaS and PaaS?

  • IaaS = Infrastructure as a Service
  • PaaS = Platform as a Service

Differences Between IaaS vs. PaaS

There are some stark differences between IaaS and PaaS. Unlike PaaS, IaaS offers its customers direct access to its cloud servers and storage. It offers more flexibility, scalability, and networking layers. You don’t have to buy and install underlying infrastructure because you can outsource it instead. You can demand and acquire resources and pay for them as you go.

When you compare cloud infrastructure as a service vs. platform as a service, IaaS can be more resilient than PaaS. The resilience is purely dependent on the vendor you choose. The same goes for security, as well. Typically charged per hour upon the usage of the services, IaaS costs can climb up because of the precise nature of billing.

On the other hand, PaaS lets you tackle advanced high-level programming by streamlining and simplifying the process. This makes the development of apps more cost and time effective. The price, however, climbs up with the upscaling of your application. Once you commit to a PaaS provider, you’re locked in the environment and interface you have selected. That’s one of the differences between IaaS vs. PaaS.

With the core differences between IaaS and PaaS mentioned, we can now proceed to grab an in-depth understanding of both.

What is IaaS?

Picking the right Infrastructure as a Service from a number of cloud providers can be a bit tricky. Hence, we’re here to help you select a cloud infrastructure that can prove to be the right fit for your business.

But first, when it comes to IaaS vs. PaaS, you must know the three significant milestones in its evolution.

Starting From The Beginning with Dedicated Servers

The root of all cloud hosting infrastructure stems from data centers filled with servers, switches, routers, storage options, and gears for other networks. IaaS or PaaS both come from the same hood, i.e. many servers in a huge room.

By adding layers of abstraction, they assist in making management more manageable and help businesses by automating manual or slow tasks so that they can scale seamlessly.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of dedicated servers.

The Pros

You can use the computer without any extra overheads of abstraction layers.

With no layers of abstraction or virtualization, there are fewer things that can go wrong.

Resource Utilization
Dedicated servers don’t allow processes to fight with other virtual machines or methods for resources such as CPU, memory, or bandwidth.

The Cons

Unable to Clone
You can’t clone a dedicated server easily. There is no concept of AMI for a dedicated server.

In most cases, you’ll pay for the hardware upfront as well as pay to house it in a colocation facility, or you’re leasing them from a hosting provider. Either way, you cannot quickly terminate the server when you’re not using it to save costs, so you need to be careful about your financial planning.

Management Hassle 
Every process or application that is running on a dedicated server is running on the same operating system. To run everything on the same server makes it difficult to optimize the OS for use in each case. For instance, for scalability, generally dedicated servers handle a single task, like either being a web server or a database server.

Virtualization – Making Things Easier 

Despite the pros of dedicated server hosting, the cons greatly outweigh them, amongst which its cost is a significant factor. With the increasing speed of deployments and companies fighting to outperform their competitors, virtualization became a natural next step in the evolution of data centers.

What is virtualization?

In simple terms, virtualization is a process that lets you split up your dedicated server into smaller virtual servers that only have access to a part of the total resources of the physical server.

You can take a physical server with two quad-core CPUs and 16GB RAM, and turn it into eight virtual machines with 1CPU and 2GB RAM each.

Some examples of virtualization technologies you may have heard before, including Xen, KVM, VMware, and Hyper-V, etc.

The Pros

  • You can clone virtual machines as per your needs.
  • You can backup virtual machine images for safekeeping or disaster recovery.

The Cons

  • Using virtualization means added overheads and potentially degraded performance.
  • VMIs aren’t portable across hosting providers.
  • Dealing with virtual machines is still a manual effort, and requires a lot of management time and expertise.

Evolution — Virtualization becomes IaaS

Whenever people talk about “cloud,” they are technically referring to IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service. So what is IaaS? In simple terms, it is the virtualization of someone else’s hardware, managed via Application Platform Interface (API). It offers code-based access to cloud computing, storage, network configuration, and resources.

It treats data center resources as a utility. When needed, it lets you request a new virtual machine. You can terminate it whenever you’re done with it and pay only for what services you consume. Amazon pioneered it with the launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006. It gave developers superpowers:

They were able to conceive an idea and launch it immediately. If it’s a success, they were able to grow their server footprint quickly, and in case of a failure, they were able to shut it down and incur nominal costs.

Datacenter automation became more powerful. Fully automated infrastructure became an achievable reality and gave rise to the concept of Infrastructure as Code. Although autoscaling was not possible in the past, now IaaS can help businesses autoscale as per their demand.

Automating different areas of a data center followed shortly, with storage, networking, and other systems that need specialized skillset in order to get the API treatment, and opening up stronger possibilities to the developer community across the globe.

Pros and Cons of IaaS

Infrastructure as a service drastically changed how businesses implement and use technology to scale. Many startups cannot invest or accommodate on-site equipment that allows them to size. Thence, smart entrepreneurs opt for cloud infrastructure and prepare for the future.

IaaS saves businesses the cost and effort of installing in-house hardware and on-site virtual environment, which makes it ideal for companies looking to share their temporary workload. To put it simply, it provides more flexibility than traditional IT models, as it eliminates the need for onsite data center's usual IT infrastructure demands.

Apart from flexibility, it offers scalability too. As your business grows, you can scale your IT resources along with it. Conversely, you can scale it down, also, if the situation calls for it.

IaaS might not be the best fit for you if you have already invested in on-premises infrastructure, or if you have a team of IT experts at your disposal, and don’t require additional manpower. In the long run, renting will add up to a sizable amount of costs; costs which you could save if you opt for an IaaS platform.

Which Companies Operate on IaaS

Many famous industry titans run on IaaS. Some of the honorable mentions are:

  • Google Cloud Engine
  • Microsoft Azure
  • IBM cloud
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Rackspace
  • Verizon Enterprise
  • Oracle cloud
  • VMware
  • Adobe
  • Phoenix NAP
  • Red Hat
  • Kamatera
  • IaaS Security

The primary focus of this model is to manage virtual machines. The priority of a chief security officer is to overlay an administrative framework and allow the organization to put controls in place and assist in avoiding open access and potential costly wastage.

When to use IaaS

Whether you’re a startup or a business giant and need a “pay-as-you-go” model of cloud computing, IaaS is for you. If you’re trying to scale up your business while keeping an eye on your expenses, or if you have a vast amount of data that needs processing and storage, you can count on IaaS to do precisely that for you.

If you’re worried about your in-house infrastructure suffering from a disaster and data loss, you can put your mind at ease, knowing your data is not on the website but a remote data center. Also, IaaS services include networking, which you can benefit significantly from.

You can contrast IaaS vs. PaaS, in the fact that it is a rudimentary model of cloud computing. The vendors provide servers, storage, and networks while the responsibility of managing applications, servers, data, middleware, and operating systems falls squarely on your shoulders.

Essentially, you’re purchasing physical hardware and virtual resources, you have to install your OS on it, and on top of that, the web applications you need to deploy.

What is PaaS?

Platform as a Service or PaaS is a model where the vendor handles the hardware, databases (where all your data is stored), and the environment required to run your web application. You simply provide them with your developed web application and data, and then they deploy the app for you.

This model might be the right choice for you if your business entails custom web applications. Besides, installing, running, and maintaining the infrastructure won’t be your headache. Still, the third-party’s, leaving you free to focus solely on application development while PaaS services take care of the rest.

Pros of PaaS

  • Convenient and easy-to-use
  • Cloud Infrastructure accessibility from any web browser.
  • Eliminates the need for in-house hardware installation
  • Cost-effective model due to the Pay-As-You-Go model.

Cons of PaaS

  • Lacks resilience because if unfortunately, the IaaS infrastructure gets disrupted or faces an outage, it causes hiccups in productivity and services.
  • Ideal cloud PaaS services providers can leave you feeling frustrated. To make PaaS worth your while, you need good speed, reliability, and support, or else it can become costly.

Best PaaS Providers

Now that you’re aware of what is PaaS and if you find this model attractive and viable, several popular vendors offer Platform as a Service infrastructure. For instance:

  • Cloudways
  • Cloud Oracle
  • Google Cloud Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon Web Services
  • SalesForce

These are some well-known and reputable vendors who offer free trials of their PaaS services so they can ensure that you’re choosing the right vendor.

PaaS Security

This model primarily focuses on protecting the data. This is significantly important in the case of storage as a service. An essential element to consider within this model is the ability to plan against the possibility of an outage from a cloud infrastructure provider.

Another ability to consider is the encryption of data while it is stored on a third-party platform, and to be aware of the regulatory issues that may apply to data available in different parts of the world.

Why PaaS?

If you want to scale your business, or if you need to develop and run web applications but don’t want to break your bank, setting up backend software and hardware infrastructure, and take on the whole responsibility for it, you can opt for PaaS cloud services.

Also, if you want your developers to focus on building applications and not on running security patches, for instance, it’s time you start using PaaS. It will save you cost, effort, and time.

What to look for in a Cloud-based Infrastructure?

You must take into account the number of visits to your website every day – the traffic – and opt for the processing power and storage, best suited to the amount of traffic your website receives. If it’s not suited to the amount of traffic, either it’ll crash due to lack of processing power needed to serve too many visitors, or you’ll choose an extensive cloud infrastructure when your site traffic is relatively low, and that’ll put a dent in your wallet. The other two factors that you should take into consideration before choosing your cloud provider are downtime and migration.

By and large,

To wrap this post up, if you want to keep up with the changing standards, you must invest in cloud computing. Not only will it help you serve your customers better, but it will also help your business grow.

It will iron out the kinks and limitations traditional IT infrastructures pose. Once you’ve decided on that, you can choose whether you must opt for IaaS or PaaS, depending on how you wish to run your cloud-based applications.

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