Cloud Deployment Models: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

When choosing cloud deployment models, businesses can choose from 3 primary options: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). But what exactly is the difference between these models, and which one is best for your business?

Let us find out as we explore all the different cloud deployment models alongside their ideal use cases to give you a better understanding of what is ideal for your business applications

What are Cloud Deployment Models?

What are Cloud Deployment Models?

Cloud deployment models enable users to have their applications be based on cloud servers. Instead of developing a custom app and running it on local servers, businesses usually have an easier time doing it on cloud platforms due to easier horizontal and vertical scaling and monitoring abilities. 

The different cloud deployment models mainly differ in terms of the autonomy and control they provide users. These models are provided by third-party vendors that have their own platforms with unique abilities and limitations that users can choose from.

Seeing how varied these solutions are, it is clear that there is no single best option for businesses universally, and it takes deep introspection to understand which model is the best suited to your requirements. Let us now understand how different solutions, such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, work to improve your development process.

What is IaaS?

One of the most rudimentary methods of migrating your processes to the cloud is having your on-site servers replaced by cloud servers using IaaS providers. With IaaS, you basically have access to all the cloud computing resources that you could want.

Using IaaS services, you can run your applications on cloud servers as they do on your local machines. This allows for nearly limitless customization of the applications and gives you full reign over them. As a result, you also get control over the security and do not have to rely on the provider as with alternatives such as SaaS.

Using IaaS is definitely far from easy when you compare it to other forms of cloud deployment, as it puts a lot of responsibility on the user’s shoulders. However, the cost-effectiveness and customizability of IaaS cannot be ignored if you tend to use proprietary applications.

Advantages of using IaaS

  • Best for migrating existing applications to cloud servers
  • Full control over applications and processes
  • Greater security and opportunities for ensuring compliance 
  • Better autonomy over applications reduces downtime and unexpected errors

Challenges of using IaaS

  • Requires effort and understanding of IaaS to set up
  • The time taken to get applications up and running is higher with IaaS
  • The possibility of vendor lock-in exists and makes compatibility with other applications difficult.

What is PaaS?

PaaS builds on the principles of IaaS and allows for greater automation within processes to speed up the process of development. Since the development process is sped up thanks to processes being automated, the time to market for the product in development is reduced as well. 

One of the tasks automated by PaaS is the scaling of resources, which occurs automatically depending on the demand, which makes it great for dynamic applications. Because of the auto-scaling, the majority of modern PaaS providers employ a pay-as-you-go payment model that allows you to optimize costs for paying for exactly the amount of resources that you consume. 

But despite all the automation facilitated by the PaaS providers, it is still not a complete turn-key solution for businesses to implement straightaway as it still requires development efforts to work. 

Advantages of using PaaS

  • Procedures such as scaling and deployment are largely automated
  • Average time to market is reduced compared to IaaS
  • The costs of running the application are based on the exact resource usage
  • Room for development and customization is greater than that of SaaS

Challenges of using PaaS

  • Access to underlying infrastructure is limited compared to IaaS
  • Compatibility with other programs may be limited depending on the vendor
  • Development costs are still applicable while running costs are inconsistent 

What is SaaS?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is undoubtedly the most popular cloud deployment model as it is widely available to the public and has a low barrier to entry. It requires no prior experience with coding or crafting custom applications, as everything you need is given to you in a neat package.

With a SaaS program, you do not have to set up any local servers to handle the application, as SaaS providers are responsible for scaling, developing, and maintaining the service. Since everything is cloud-based, accessing SaaS products can even be done using web browsers, which raises its usability far beyond other alternatives. 

Seeing how rapidly SaaS solutions can be deployed, they are the ideal solutions for businesses looking for a quick and easy way to implement a cloud-based solution. 

Advantages of using SaaS

  • Little to no configuration is required to get the app started
  • Easy to use for most users that are new to the application
  • Instant availability of the software solution
  • Frequent updates made to improve the app functions

Challenges of using SaaS

  • Limited customization of functionality
  • Concerns regarding data privacy
  • Performance may be slower than proprietary applications 


There always seems to be an element of sacrifice when comparing cloud deployment models, as they either give you more control in exchange for ease of use or give you a ready-to-go product that is mostly locked and does not allow for any modification whatsoever.

A common trend for corporations is to rely on PaaS for their product development needs while utilizing SaaS for less essential internal duties such as communication or monitoring. This allows them to optimize their development speed and reduce their time to market without losing out on a lot of control.

Regardless of what the trends are,  it is best to try out all of the solutions mentioned to figure out which one works the best for you. Thankfully, this is quite easy to do as most vendors offer free trials for this very reason to help you gauge which solution fits your requirements the best.