IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS Explained

You are ready to make a move to cloud-based services for your small business.  You begin meeting with people and researching online. Suddenly, you’re hit with all these scary acronyms.  

When you talk to the techs and sales reps, it’s like they are speaking a different language.  You have a fear of asking additional questions because it is hard to understand the underlying language of what they are selling.  

There is a secret, and once you learn it, you too can become one of those people throwing out techy acronyms.  It involves IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. The last three letters are the easiest. As a service. Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, or Software as a Service.  With the help of Power Consulting, we are going to break down the difference below.

Software as a Service

This is the most common of cloud application services, SaaS merely means that your software is hosted on the cloud and requires the internet to access it.  In the past, you had to purchase software and load it on your computer. When a new version of a software was released, you had to upgrade.  With SaaS, you buy a subscription to software and the developers update it for you.

It is the easiest to get started with and doesn’t require any coding or in-depth technical knowledge.  This is perfect for a startup or small business that needs to get up and running quickly. Most applications do not require downloading, and the users are not responsible for updates.  All you need is an internet connection for access.

Platform as a Service

This is similar to Software as a Service in that you are not responsible for updates or storage.  Platform as a Service is highly scalable. It gives developers the tools they need to build customized software and apps without heavy coding and the need for a team of developers to maintain and update your product.  

Multiple users can access the product at the same time, and the web service and database are fully integrated. PaaS can help expedite development of an app and works great when working with multiple developers.

Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service is the most flexible of all the choices and is highly scalable.  This is a great option when, as a business large or small, you want complete control over the applications you develop.  You also have the flexibility to have full control over your infrastructure. When you are in a rapid growth stage, this is especially beneficial as you won’t have to commit to any one component of hardware or software.  

You will only need to pay for the services you need when you need them.  It is not a problem to quickly scale up or down. Clients can still access all their storage and servers directly.  IaaS uses a type of virtual data cloud that is usually provided via API.


No matter what size business you have, even a start-up e-commerce business, there is always a need to help manage your workflow using cloud-based services.  The best thing about migrating to the cloud with one of these services is that you are not responsible for maintaining it.  Whatever your unique business needs are, there is a smart option out there for you that will help you to achieve your long-term goals.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.