Cloud lingo 101: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS

Cloud platforms can be confusing for developers and non-technical staff alike with a multitude of new terms and abbreviations, we explain the basics.

Cloud lingo 101

25 March 2019

Major cloud operators like Amazon, Google and Microsoft offer countless of products and services on their platform to empower developers and businesses operating high performance websites. Today we look at some of the terms used to categorise these services.

What is IaaS?

When dealing with platforms that offer hosting for websites or other server related products you will frequently come across the term 'IaaS', but what does that mean?

IaaS stands for Infrastructure As A Service and that mostly gives away what group of products this refers to. When we talk about IaaS in the context of web development and cloud it refers often to virtual, scalable server environments.

IaaS is the first abstraction layer above dedicated, bare metal (read physical computer hardware) servers, as it allows clients to commission computing units of any size in terms of CPU, memory or storage without needing to build or being limited to the actual underlying hardware.

How about PaaS?

PaaS or Platform As a Service is different from IaaS in the fact that it goes one more step up in abstraction. With IaaS we can create scalable servers with custom properties, often within seconds and then use them as every other server, meaning we have to install an operating system and the software we want to use.

However with PaaS modules cloud platforms provide managed environments, that are ready to deploy scaling applications directly. When working with PaaS businesses are able to concentrate on developing their product, while a cloud operator takes care of providing live databases, build and hosting environments and many other services.

But there is more: SaaS

If IaaS are the walls of our setup, then PaaS puts in the cables and with Software As A Service (SaaS) we get our sofa and TV. This category refers to completely ready and usable applications, that are made available as an subscription or on-demand module.

When 'consuming' SaaS products the whole infrastructure and applications to power a software are operated by a cloud operator, to enable clients to simply sit back and use the software in question for their business.

When do I use what?

It completely depends on your business and what it needs to succeed with that. Some companies have experienced development and tech admin teams and develop high performance applications that leverage the flexibility and scalability of IaaS platforms.

Other business are great in developing amazing software and deploy them to managed environments with PaaS, where they can simply go to production without needing to manage infrastructure themselves.

Some teams on the other side may be interested to streamline processes or use tools in sales, project management or support that are built as SaaS.

In the end what to use and when is a highly individual question and in real life work most companies use products that fall in one or more of these categories for different tasks.

If you are wondering about what possibilities your business can unlock with IaaS, PaaS and SaaS products then get in touch with our consulting experts, to establish how your teams can work cost efficient and accomplish more, by filling out the form below or send us an email to

cloud in-brief explained tech stack iaas paas saas
Share this article

Contact us