IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS: Which One is Best for Your Business?

As more and more organizations consider switching their business assets to the cloud, it is important to understand the differences between the three models of cloud service: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). By comparing IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS, you can choose the best model for your organization.

IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS

As you can see with the below diagram, with an on-premises, non-cloud system your organization takes care of everything, from the servers to the software. With IaaS, your servers and storage are taken care of with virtual, cloud servers. With PaaS, cloud service providers also supply the middleware. And with SaaS, third party providers supply everything, including the software.


Let’s take a deeper look into each option.

IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS is sometimes referred to as “your data center in the cloud.” With the IaaS model of cloud services, third party providers host virtual hardware equipment such as servers and storage systems. IaaS providers may also take care of associated services such as ongoing system maintenance, data backup and business continuity.

Organizations that use IaaS are typically billed on the amount of storage they need, which are tabulated by the hour, week or month, depending on the service contract. This makes IaaS platforms highly scalable IT resources. If your organization grows, you simply need to pay for more storage rather than buy costly hardware. If your organization shrinks, you can reduce that storage. You also don’t need to maintain an IT staff solely dedicated to run servers.

This model is particularly attractive to small businesses and startups that may be growing, and companies that experience temporarily high workloads, like retailers during the holiday shopping season. However, you have to be careful to monitor your usage. In the metered world of IaaS, you only want to pay for what you need.

Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine (GCE).

IaaS offers many advantages, including:

  • Easy to automate storage, networking, servers and processing power
  • Avoids wasteful spending because server/storage is based on consumption
  • Clients retain complete control of their infrastructure
  • Highly scalable

PaaS: Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivers a platform to clients, which lets them develop, run and manage their business applications. Like IaaS, PaaS comes with virtual servers, storage and networking. But with PaaS, developers also have the tools to build customized software without having to worry about operating systems, software updates, storage or the underlying infrastructure.

PaaS is a pay-as-you-go service.

PaaS has many advantages, including:

  • Resources can easily be scaled up or down as business changes
  • Saves time and money with developing or deploying in-house apps, and significantly reduces the amount of coding needed to create them
  • Streamlines application management, and lets multiple developers work on the same project more efficiently

Examples of PaaS include Google App Engine, OpenShift, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Windows® Azure.

SaaS: Software as a Service

When you consider IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS, Software as a Service is likely the most familiar to you. This is the most common cloud model used by businesses, and provides a wide variety of individual software applications such as email and collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), billing/payroll processing, sales management, human resources management, financial management, database management, enterprise resourcing planning (ERP), content management and document editing and management.

Organizations typically pay for SaaS applications via a subscription fee on a monthly or annual basis, often based on the number of people using the application, or the number of transactions that are run. Because of this fee structure, one of the major advantages to SaaS is its ongoing scalability and the ability to add or subtract users as needed. Since the apps are delivered via the web, SaaS also eliminates the need to have IT staff available to download and install applications on each individual computer, and third party vendors manage all potential technical issues. This allows IT staff to spend their time on more pressing, organizational matters.

Examples of SaaS include Google Docs (and many common Google apps such Google Calendar), DropboxTM, Cisco WebexTM and Salesforce.

SaaS has many advantages, including:

  • Applications can be accessed anywhere, and on mobile devices
  • Organizations can access many applications, including those used infrequently
  • Apps are always kept up-to-date; no need to install patches or updates
  • Scalability and cost savings

IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS

Each cloud model, whether you are considering IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS offers specific features and functionalities. Whether you need cloud-based software for storage options, a platform to develop customized applications, or complete control over your entire infrastructure, there is a cloud service option for your organization.

Still not sure? At Single Path, we work with many small-to-medium sized businesses, school districts and other organizations to help them find the cloud services best for them.

Contact us to learn more about how to move your assets to the cloud.

Why Unified Communications is the New Normal, and How You Can Afford It.

You probably have heard a lot about Unified Communications. As an ‘untethered’ workforce expands—a workforce free of geographic restrictions and traditional workspaces—the need for Unified Communications (UC) to the cloud has exploded. Unified Communications refers to the unification of business communications into a single platform, and often includes email, instant messaging, smart phones, landlines, fax capabilities and real-time data access. UC is also usually capable of handling both audio and video content. In general, UC allows businesses to have more flexibility, enhanced collaboration and greater responsiveness.

The explosion of Unified Communications is easy to understand when you look more closely at today’s workforce and their technology expectations.


As we shared in a previous blog post, BYOD continues to expand due to the reduced business costs and ease of use; smart phones are commonplace and working at home or while travelling is expected. Access to files, constant communication despite geographic borders, and easy access to video conferencing—all with mobile devices—allow employees to stay connected anytime, from anywhere.


As the workforce gets younger, led by the influx of Millennials, so does the comfort level of using newer technology. The vast majority of Americans own smart phones—they are owned by more than 90% of those between the ages of 18-29 according to the Pew Research Center—and the use of broadband technology at home is nearly as pervasive. Employees want the same level of communication for work that they have for home. These expectations will only continue to increase with a new generation of workers.

Video Capabilities

Video conferencing is playing an increasing role in daily business interactions due to the cost savings in travel expenses while increasing productivity, especially with features like multichannel capability, HD screens, advanced meeting controls and easy interoperability. But video solutions need clarity and elimination of disruptions or lag. Cloud-based UC solutions are particularly effective for video conferencing, without the need for expensive hardware.

UCaaS to the Rescue

Larger enterprises have already addressed the shift to UC, but SMB’s have been slower to react due to the high cost of initial deployment and ongoing support.

That’s because UC requires quite a bit of network infrastructure to accommodate the necessary bandwidth for phone calls, data sharing and more. Building infrastructure is costly! As the Huffington Post reports, “While small- and medium-sized businesses’ (SMB’s) telecommunications networks have become more proficient at serving more devices and connecting them to the cloud, they may not be able to offer the effective bandwidth increase, speed and security required.”

That’s why a cloud-based UC solution, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), is becoming more and more popular. UCaaS refers to the growing practice of outsourcing these services to a third-party, who then delivers them over an IP network, usually the public Internet.

With UCaaS, businesses don’t have to worry about managing and updating their communication technology—that will be handled by their UCaaS provider. Businesses avoid those expensive infrastructure expenditures, take advantage of the newest IP-based communication technologies, and have scalable and reliable communication services should they need to expand or downsize.

Let Single Path Collaborate

Is it time for your business to consider UCaaS? Whether or not you and your business are currently tech savvy (see if you are here), a partner like Single Path can help. We can assist you in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of Unified Communications, see if UCaaS is right for you, and help you determine the timeline and the immediate expenditures, if any, that are needed to unify your business.

Ask us how to get started!