SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, oh my!

Luxury Brick Home in Suburbs with White Columns

As a recent addition to the CopperEgg team (one may call me the latest egghead), hearing the terms SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS seemed to overwhelm me. Why were there so many various models, and what were the major differences between them?

While having a discussion with Mike, our customer guy, he explained it in a way that made so much sense to someone that might not have the greatest amount of technical background. He explained that SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and traditional on-premise IT could be related to home ownership.

Confused? Yes. Interested? Very. As a visual learner all of my life, examples and pictures are key to my understanding, which is why I found this analogy to be so fascinating.

First, lets begin with SaaS. An example of SaaS could be our app, RevealCloud. Think of Software as a Service as a hotel room…let's dream of the Four Seasons, shall we? During your leisurely stay at such a fine establishment all you really have to do in your hotel room is shower and sleep. No decoration is required and all the bills are included with your stay. With a SaaS app everything is taken care of by someone else, and you are able to easily work with your end user data.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is an apartment. If we are still dreaming…one located in downtown Austin. An example of PaaS would be Engine Yard. Once you create an app, you run it in the PaaS environment. The possibilities for decorating are endless in an apartment, as long as you paint and clean up before your lease is up. Everything is included with the apartment, like bills and maintenance, and you have more of a free reign in what you control, just like PaaS.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) examples are the big dogs like Amazon EC2 and the Rackspace Cloud. They act as a hosting provider if you are transitioning your servers to the cloud. Let's envision this as a condo in Breckenridge. You own this little gem in one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, yet you don't have to take care of the landscaping. Bonus! You have the freedom to decorate as you choose and are considering installing those fabulous granite countertops that you have been eyeing at Lowe's for months. So like a Condo, IaaS lets the user control applications, data and operating systems.  This gives them full control, without having to mow the lawn or take care of the physical server.

Finally, traditional on-premise IT. I instantly envision hundreds of cables intertwined in a magnificent closet where servers are stacked ever so neatly on top of one another in their racks. Of course, I have to use my imagination since we don't have any on-premise servers here at CopperEgg. This server room represents full-blown home ownership. Everything is now in your control. You may now install a pool in your backyard, complete with a waterfall.

Thanks to Mike's awesome analogy, I now have a better understanding of the differences between these cloud computing models. Now if I can just purchase that condo in Breckenridge...

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