How can we better define IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS? Which are “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”?

The Cloud phenomenon continues to remain the major trend, almost unanimously identified as the main “guilty” of the emergence and rapid development of all other disruptive technologies. However, there are many unclear points and discussion topics related to defining Cloud patterns and especially their beneficial or evil influence…

That’s why Stratoscale, a hyper-converged software start-up asked 32 worldwide experts from IT industry to share their insights on the differences between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. The result of this valuable summary of expert content contribution was published on the Stratoscale’s website in a comprehensive article named: “IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

Who is Stratoscale?
Stratoscale is the cloud infrastructure company, allowing anyone to deploy an AWS compatible region in any datacenter. Stratoscale Symphony, can be deployed in minutes on commodity x86 servers, creating an Amazon Web Services (AWS) region supporting EC2, S3, EBS, RDS and Kubernetes. Stratoscale was named a “Cool Vendor in Servers and Virtualization” by Gartner and is backed by over $70M from leading investors including Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Cisco, Intel, Qualcomm Ventures, SanDisk and Leslie Ventures.

cloud☁mania had the honour of being invited to participate in this initiative. You can read the cloud☁mania’s contribution to the matched theme and some consideration related to the evolution of the Cloud phenomenon. Read here our contribution:

The Future of Cloud Computing 

“We think about cloud computing when we need a scalable solution that can be quickly adapted to the requirements of the organisation’s time and that does not require substantial human and material investment. New business models that migrate existing solutions to the cloud or simply use applications and platforms lessens the burden on managers and allows them to focus entirely on business issues. In my opinion, the different classification models adopted by the cloud community and assimilated as standards by cloud ecosystems are only conventions. IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are clearly different models, involving different technology components with different addressability.

Hyperconvergence solutions - stratoscaleIt is difficult to directly compare these models because there are very different. It’s important to understand who the users for each model are, and how cloud migration is solving their basic needs: IaaS addresses IT departments; PaaS and all middleware solutions migrated in the cloud are meant for apps developers, and SaaS is very clearly meant for end-users (be it enterprise or private users). Each model has his own adoption popularity and migration threats.

Additionally, from the enterprise point of view, the majority of cloud migration projects are involving a mix of models. This is similar to the attempt to compare public and private cloud – today, it is clear that the most accepted form is actually the hybrid cloud. But there already are a lot of different interpretations, even for the hybrid concept. Recently, the hybrid cloud has started to define various combinations between cloud and on-premises delivered solutions, which is now being discussed as distributed cloud or edge/fog computing in different interpretations. This type of cloud technology is moving the initial processing phases to the users’ terminals (networking edges) in real time, sending to the cloud only recordable data.

The next step is towards software-defined everything or hyper-converged systems, consisting of bundles of hardware and software that integrate particles of processing, storage and networking. Everything is managed by IT admins and by orchestration systems based on cloud tools and development practices.” Contributed by Radu Crahmaliuc, Founder, cloud☁mania.

From Cloud models flavours, benefits and dark sides, to XaaS, CPaaS and containers  

Connecting-To-Public-CloudHere is a briefing summary of other contributors perspective can be synthesised in few general conclusions. Important to note this is a personal selection aimed only to underline the most interesting aspects of this big Cloud diversity. To read the full specialists/ statements please see the original Stratoscale’s article “IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.

“While these cloud models offer a lot of convenience and flexibility, they do all have downsides. Things can go horribly wrong with either SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS when the provider hosting your instances has an outage”Peter Tsai, IT Analyst, Spiceworks;

“Clients should strive to separate application lifecycles from hardware lifecycles, which is greatly enhanced by allowing cloud service providers to handle the challenges of maintaining capacity and services in the face of unknowns” Niels Goldstein, Director of Hybrid IT Management and Modernization Practice, CGI Federal

Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) is a beautiful thing – consume the best of breed services or the service de jour that your business organization wants, at the scale that it’s needed, anytime, anywhere. The good in this is clearly the agility, availability and scalability of services. In addition, on-demand services mean that one only pays for the services consumed at the time of consumption.”  – Kong Yang, Head Geek, SolarWinds

“The future of cloud computing depends upon factors that go way beyond the many services it offers. It’s not just about understanding what will work, won’t work, or what will fail terribly – it’s about thinking about the big picture, and noticing the obvious, which is getting ignored”. Naveen Joshi, DirectorAllerin

“Many IaaS vendors restrict customers’ network configurations, so sometimes really ugly workarounds are needed to get applications to work properly without redesign.” Ruslan Synytsky, CEOJelastic

“There are three Very Different Cloud Model ‘Flavors’ of current Cloud computing. Sometimes there are no clear-cut divisions between the three and the edges can be a bit blurry.” –  Dr. Roman Zenner, Industry Analyst & Content WriterCommercetools

“The most wonderful advantage of IaaS is the capability to transfer work to the cloud during peak demand in on-premise systems.” – Rahul Singh, Assistant Manager, Digital Marketing, SEO & BrandingPersistence Market Research (PMR)

The typical understanding is that the application sphere of cloud computing models is applicable only for pooling of ICT resources: servers, storages, switches, and so on. But the application sphere is obviously much broader – it may cover the entire spectrum of services and products and can be applied not just to servers, storages and switches, but to any kind of resource, such as vehicles, industrial equipment, buildings, and so on.”  – Alexander Gerasimov, Director of Сloud & ICT Market AnalysisJ’son & Partners Consulting

Deploying both IaaS and PaaS offers flexibility for design and deployment. The good news is that the delivered solution is fully operational, and you can focus on your data and processes without having to worry about operational details. The bad news, of course, is that you are limited to whatever features and modifications the vendor offers”. – Roger Strukhoff, Director of ResearchAltoros 

“The main concerns when using IaaS involve the details of the platform that are somewhat opaque (for example, networking performance, and particularly networking performance characteristics of different node types.”-  Mark Chopping, COOKognitio

Promising and innovative developers need the right tools to bring their application visions into the world. If they’re stuck working with a subpar development environment, they spend more time trying to work around the limitations in the system than they do meeting their original goals.”- Mark Geene, CEO & Co-Founder, Cloud Elements

“Why is Anything-as-a-Service good, and why might it be bad? The simple HR answer is: “It depends.” An “-as-a-Service” offering exists for almost anything you can think of in IT these days. Some of those services are fairly baked, like IaaS and SaaS, and are relatively easy to consume.”Mark Thiele, CSOApcera

“The cloud is definitely one of the key accelerators of digital transformation because it functions as a catalyst in promoting effective dialogue between businesses and IT today. The cloud is fast and easy to use, less expensive and increases business agility.” contribution of Suyati

IaaS requires expert knowledge to deploy complex applications in the cloud. The customer cannot manage and control the underlying physical infrastructure, and can only control the virtual platform.”Ekaterina Yudina, Project Manager and Content EngineerIT-GRAD

In recent years, PaaS is viewed in combination with microservices and concepts like containers and DevOps, which broadens its scope for innovation. But PaaS is not yet a very mature market and is still at the early stage of adoption. PaaS offerings also have a confusing marketing message.”- Nandavarapu Kiran, Director, Hi-Tech PracticeBlueocean Market Intelligence

“Despite its many benefits, IaaS is not optimal for certain use cases. Businesses that need ultra low-latency for sensitive applications are probably better off building a local data center where they can always guarantee optimal performance.”Contributed by DoubleHorn

PaaS has a definite dark side because it is most likely to cause lock-in to a particular cloud. Additionally, use of PaaS services is often metered, and can result in unexpectedly high costs if the use case scenarios are not appropriate.“ – Scott Chate, VP Partner & Market DevelopmentCorent Technology Inc.

“Everything is SaaS. IaaS is basically someone with a big server using software like VMware or Hyper-V to split up the server’s resources into software-based virtual servers. PaaS is basically someone with a big server using software like Azure to create software-based development environments. On these environments, people can write their own software – maybe even another SaaS solution – and present it to the world.”Richard May, Managing Director, virtualDCS

“When choosing cloud vendors for business-critical services, it is, therefore, worth to at least check to see how difficult it would be to migrate. It might not be that difficult to switch infrastructure providers as long as you stick to pure virtual machines, but the more you use higher-level platform services, the more bound you become to them.”Marcin Okraszewski, Software ArchitectCloudorado

“Before the cloud, every huge enterprise had a data center with walls, guards, fences, and locks to secure critical data. Now, organisations of any size can take advantage of world-class data centers run by Amazon AWS or Google GCE.”Patrick Kerpan, Co-Founder and CEO, Cohesive Networks

“If your organisation provides digital or software-based products and services which differentiate you from your competitors, you need the flexibility to build solutions that are your own product, and which distinct from your competition’s. This is what leads organisations to consider IaaS/PaaS over SaaS.”Dan Norris-Jones, Director and Co-Founder, Priocept

“Working with IaaS raises concerns with regards to sensitive data. There is also the question of security compliance and adhering to external data security regulations: Does the provider have security measures in place to manage communication outages such as denial of service, or attacks such as IP spoofing, DNS poisoning, ARP poisoning or RIP? “ – Cohen, Principal Blogger, Electric Monk

You should begin from strategic objectives, and ask: What should the cloud bring your company? Cheaper IT, better IT, or faster IT innovation? These are different goals, which, together with your company’s current or planned IT competence, drive your service model decisions.”Peter van Eijk, Head Coach, clubcloudcomputing.com

Compared to deploying on-premises bare-metal servers, leveraging the IaaS model can provide higher levels of physical and logical security, a more robust underlying hardware platform and complete management by IT professionals.”- Matthew Chesterton, CEO, OffsiteDataSync

“XaaS is the new hulk of the cloud computing. Born due to elasticity offered by the cloud, XaaS can provide an ever-increasing range of solutions, allowing businesses to choose exactly the solution they want, tailored for their business, irrespective of size/vertical.” Amarkant Singh, Head of ProductBotmetric

“In my opinion, there are three major benefits of any XaaS solution: mobility, security, and predictability.” Paul Powell, Microsoft Practice LeadBishop Technologies, Inc.

“IaaS, SaaS and PaaS all have their own pros and cons. Just like other available solutions, such as on-premise or a private cloud, the current situation a specific organisation is in defines which solution fits best.”Jelle Visser, Sales and MarketingValueblue

“The good thing about SaaS is that you can set it and forget it – usually everything works well for the first few months/years. Certain SaaS providers also offer trial periods or even free memberships as long as you remain under the quotas.”Mark, Blogger, Marksei

“The biggest concern with SaaS is data security and on-premise integration. Challenges include: integrating SaaS with existing applications, availability of well-defined APIs and the cost of accessing them, user onboarding and offboarding, and integrating SaaS with existing on-prem applications.” – Pradipta Banerjee, Blogger, CloudGeekz

“SaaS is ideal for businesses where certain software is used irregularly or in the short term, such as for tax or billing software. Furthermore, businesses that rely on remote access from different devices benefit from SaaS models, as their software can be accessed on any device.” –  Contributed by CTS

“Many public clouds limit the amount of customization and control you have over the environment, potentially leaving you to contend with noisy neighbours, latency issues, suboptimal application performance, and security concerns – all of which eat up time and energy.” – Contributed by B2cloud

“Although some experts believe that when it comes to security and performance, a single-tenant model would fit better, I see multi-tenancy as the most elegant and cost efficient cloud deployment model.”- Richard Velden, Developer, Werken bij Qualogy

“The biggest change in the field of cloud services is the enthusiasm around containers. I see the success of this as similar to the success of APIs compared to the success of SOA”John Mathon, CEO, Agile Stacks Inc.

 “Most organisations manage network assignments using Excel spreadsheets. When the networking team receives a request to set up a new network, they access the spreadsheet for suitable resources.” – Juha Holkkola, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist, FusionLayer Inc.

“When security is done right, the cloud can be even more secure than traditional software. 62.9% of IT professionals believe the cloud platforms have equal or better security than on-premises software.” – Kamal Shah, SVP of Products and MarketingSkyhigh

“These two trends – the shift from standalone, siloed communication environments to embedded communications, and the shift from on-premises communications systems to cloud-based services – are big market drivers today, and the pace of those shifts are accelerating.” Dan Nordale, Chief Revenue Officer, Flowroute

“Although the SPI models are important, the impact of XaaS will tip the scale toward a massive paradigm shift in which technology is no longer considered a mere resource, but also a strategic imperative for ensuring business profitability in mass.”James O’Connor, Analyst and Technical Writer, eFileCabinet

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