Published in Platform content on May 2020. 5 minute read

The benefits of cloud computing — should I choose IaaS, PaaS or SaaS?

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The benefits of cloud computing include greater flexibility and agility, together with cost savings and improved business resilience. The specific benefits your business sees will depend partly on what kind of cloud computing you choose to use.

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IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service gives you access to resources such as servers (sometimes referred to as compute resources), bandwidth, network connections and storage capacity. While the cloud provider takes care of running the data centres where all the physical hardware is located, you are entirely responsible for configuring and maintaining any operating systems and applications running on that infrastructure. Google Cloud Platform Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage and the Google Network are all examples of IaaS solutions.

The main benefits of IaaS are:

  • greater flexibility and scalability, as you can add more servers or disks in minutes, although you will still need to spend time on configuration.
  • increased resilience, as your systems are running in a highly fault-tolerant environment.
  • improved security, with sophisticated access and intrusion detection in Google’s data centres, custom server hardware designed for security as performance, and end-to-end encryption of network traffic on the Google Cloud Network.

PaaS – Platform as a Service adds a layer of tools running on top of the base infrastructure to create a complete environment for developing and deploying software quickly. This typically includes databases, file storage and software development tools, as well as the operating system. The cloud provider makes sure all of this keeps running smoothly and securely, letting your team focus on coding, testing and deploying applications.  Examples of PaaS solutions include: App Engine, Google Cloud serverless application platform for apps and back ends; BigQuery, a fully managed scalable data warehouse; artificial intelligence and machine learning tools such as Vision AI and Video AI; and support for containerisation through Google Kubernetes Engine.

While you’ll enjoy many of the same benefits you’ll see with IaaS, the real advantages of PaaS are:

  • fast development and deployment, with your developers not only able to use familiar software development environments but also tap into a range of APIs and other tools to quickly add complex features such as route planning or automatic tagging of images and video. You can also create development, staging and production environments that are identical, giving you confidence that when you go into production, you won't encounter any nasty configuration surprises.
  • scalable, on demand computing power, with systems able to tolerate extreme spikes in traffic, so you can automatically scale from no traffic to millions of requests per second, in seconds — and scale back down again when demand drops. With per-minute pricing, you’ll also only pay for what you use, so you won’t face the traditional cost penalty of having to scale your systems for peak demand.
  • less time spent on managing your infrastructure, as the cloud provider handles routine management tasks such as monitoring and logging, rolling out security patches and load balancing. Your in-house team can focus on work that adds value to your business and helps you compete.

SaaS – Software as a Service sees the cloud provider assume complete responsibility for everything that's needed to deliver an application to your end-user devices. You simply use the application on demand when and where you need it. SaaS includes standard applications like Google Cloud G Suite, as well as apps for vertical industries — such as our very own Ancoris Maps for Housing — and custom apps, like the solution we created for collection technicians working for a provider of clinical laboratory services, drug and alcohol testing and food testing.

The main benefits of SaaS are:

  • simplified support for mobile and remote working. With Google-based SaaS solutions running in the browser and no need to install apps or extensions, your users can work from anywhere on any device. And because users are always accessing the latest versions of apps, they don’t need to bring devices into the office for upgrades and patches.
  • improved business resilience, because your team can continue working together even when the unexpected happens and they can’t get to the office. You can also be sure all your documents and files are always available, rather than stuck on the laptop of a colleague or lost altogether because of a hardware failure.
  • flexibility, as SaaS solutions can usually be rolled out to users more quickly than traditional systems. It’s also easier to add users as you grow or if you employ a lot of seasonal or temporary staff, with web-based tools like the G Suite Management Console, letting administrators set up and manage users and create and enforce security policies remotely.

If you want to find out more about the benefits that IaaS, PaaS or SaaS cloud computing solutions could offer your business, read about three ways you can use cloud to kickstart your digital transformation or come and talk to our Google Cloud Platform experts.

Article updated May 2020

First published November 2017

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