There are three main flavors of "as a Service" (aaS) information technology (IT) offerings on the market: Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service. For corporate data centers, achieving the benefits you want from aaS products depends on choosing the right level of service.
Software as a Service (SaaS) offers subscription-based access to applications through the web. A widely used example of SaaS is Office 365; users access the standard set of Microsoft desktop applications online rather than through a copy of the software installed on their desktop. Data centers and IT teams don't usually interact directly with SaaS, except perhaps to manage signing up corporate users; SaaS is mostly about providing services to end users.
For data centers, the biggest impact is from Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). These offer virtual processing, memory, and storage as abstractions above the physical hardware. Rather than install and support physical devices in your own data center, you access resources on demand from the services provider. The difference between PaaS and IaaS comes with the level of services and support you get in addition to the virtualized server.
Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service provides a standardized, supported application development environment in addition to the server components. Due to middleware provided by the PaaS plus support for testing and deployment, developers are able to create and deploy applications efficiently. The PaaS support also makes it easier to imbue applications with scalability and high availability by default.
The PaaS provider has the responsibility for supporting the physical hardware, the virtual environment, the operating system, and all the development tools they provide. Companies that use PaaS are only responsible for supporting the functionality of the applications they build.
Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service provides a lower level of support than PaaS. The data center gets the virtual environment with compute, memory, and storage capacity, and that’s all they get. Unlike in PaaS, with IaaS you need to support and manage your own applications, middleware, and operating systems. You'll typically need to manage your own security, as well. IaaS offers flexibility to install whatever tools and components your business needs.
Choosing the Right "as a Service" Service Level
Either IaaS or PaaS can be right for you, depending on what IT problems your business is trying to solve. Don't chase cloud as a general-purpose solution. Know the details of your pain points and exactly what you're hoping adopting "aaS" and cloud will do for you.
IaaS is highly flexible and lets you configure your systems with the tools you want; you give up less control over your infrastructure. It lets you shed the responsibility of managing hardware while still being able to customize your environment.
PaaS gets you a more comprehensive level of support and a standardized, proven software development environment. If the major challenges your IT team faces is rapidly, repeatably deploying applications, PaaS offers the tools to solve those issues.
dcVAST offers professional services that help businesses assess their true needs and design effective solutions. Our implementation and support services include managed Amazon Web Services for companies choosing a PaaS solution, and Infrastructure as a Service for entities wanting a supported hardware foundation with the flexibility to build their own development environment. Contact us to start discussing what IaaS and PaaS can offer your business.