What Is IaaS? How Infrastructure as a Service Differs from SaaS and PaaS

what is IaaS

What is IaaS, exactly? What makes it different from other cloud services like PaaS and SaaS?

Unlike PaaS, which offers a complete environment for deploying apps, and SaaS, which provides complete software solutions, IaaS only gives you access to bare-bones virtual machines, storage, networking, and computing power.

Still confused? Don’t worry. You’ll understand the differences between them by the end of this post. With 91% of companies at least partially moving to the cloud, this basic understanding is crucial.

Let’s explore what IaaS is, nail down how it differs from other cloud services, and check out some real-world examples of it in use.

What Is IaaS in Simple Words?

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) refers to rentable hard drive space or computing power (e.g. CPU, RAM) from internet-connected computers.

You can use these services to host a business app in the cloud, process large amounts of data, or even host your website.

In most cases, you rent cloud computing infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis by the hour. Instead of a locked monthly package that includes various services, you can single out what you need at any given moment.

For example, you can add dozens of virtual machines to process a new data set for just a few hours. You don’t need to commit to or pay for services you don’t use.

It’s also a good option for relatively stable ongoing use cases, where demand can sometimes fluctuate sharply. For example, you can use it to host your in-house CRM or other applications. It’s easy to scale it up or down based on usage and demand changes—like during a busy season.

So you’ve heard of SaaS and PaaS… now meet IaaS, and see how it fits into the rapidly expanding world of cloud services ☁Click to Tweet

An Example of IaaS: Amazon EC2

Amazon EC2 was one of the first cloud computing services launched to the public in 2006. It lets you create instances (virtual machines) in 77 different data centers across the globe.

The instances are flexible—without a default operating system or control panel—so you can customize them to suit your needs, whether that’s testing your software on multiple OSes, hosting a website, or processing big data.

Amazon EC2

This customizability is what makes it an IaaS service. It’s not a complete, packaged solution, ready for deployment or use. You need to set up the server environment before you can use it.

To this day, EC2 is one of the most popular services from leading cloud service provider AWS, and all significant competitors offer similar options.

By now, you should have a basic understanding of IaaS, but you might not fully understand how it’s different from SaaS and, in particular, PaaS.

Let’s compare them and highlight their differences.

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS: What’s the Difference?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) only offers the basics, such as storage

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This article was written by Matteo Duò and originally published on Blog – Kinsta.

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