In the tech and innovation landscape, it is essential for investors, bankers and corporates to keep up to date with the various technological solutions available. In the cloud computing and software world, three terms are commonly used: PaaS (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between these cloud services. In this article, we'll look at their distinctions, highlighting their unique characteristics and use cases.
The main difference between these SaaS, PaaS and IaS services is the level of autonomy they allow. These cloud-based solutions meet specific needs:
IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, is on-demand access to an IT infrastructure hosted in the cloud. All it takes is to rent servers from the chosen service provider. It provides virtualised computing resources, such as virtual machines, storage, and networking.
What makes this different from other cloud solutions is that the cloud service provider hosts, manages and maintains the hardware and IT resources in its own data centres.
IaaS clients use the hardware via an Internet connection and pay for this use on a subscription or pay-per-use basis. It allows businesses to scale their infrastructure resources as needed, reducing the burden of managing physical hardware. Users choose the level of control they have over their infrastructure, but they don't have to control or manage the hardware.
IaaS offers greater flexibility to its clients, who can create IT resources according to their needs (depending on traffic increases or decreases, for example). As a result, they avoid the overheads associated with purchasing and maintaining their own on-site data centre. What's more, the level of security in the data centres means that businesses benefit from more advanced security and protection than if they hosted the cloud infrastructure in-house. IaaS is an excellent option for online retailers who experience traffic peaks, as it has a high capacity to scale up during peaks while maintaining a high level of security.
Google Compute Engine, Rackspace, Linode, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud
PaaS, or Platform as a Service, is a ready-to-use platform hosted in the cloud that provides an environment for developers to create, test, deploy, run, update and scale applications faster and at lower cost than if they had to create and manage their own on-premise platform.
It offers tools, libraries, and infrastructure to streamline the development process. Platform as a Service includes all the basic functions of IaaS, plus personalised support. The cloud provider also supplies the servers, storage, RAM and middleware (such as the OS). They are responsible for managing the infrastructure, updating, applying corrections and other administrative tasks. PaaS allows teams of developers to focus on their core business without worrying about platform maintenance, software updates, storage or infrastructure. They can create and deploy their code in optimised environments. PaaS encourages teamwork on the same environment (integration, testing, distribution, deployment) and thus reduces development time and costs. PaaS supports a wide range of programming languages (Java, Python,Swift, etc.), tools and application environments.
Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, OpenShift, Platform.sh
SaaS, or Software as a Service, provides ready-to-use software applications over the Internet on a monthly or annual subscription basis. Users can access these applications through a web browser, eliminating the need for installation and maintenance. SaaS solutions cover a wide range of applications, from email and office productivity tools to customer relationship management (CRM) and more. SaaS is managed entirely by the supplier and is ready for use by your teams.
These days, almost everyone uses a SaaS service - all it takes is a smartphone. Whether it's email, social media or cloud-based file storage solutions, we're integrating SaaS applications into our daily lives. On the professional and entrepreneurial side, SaaS solutions are also being widely adopted. These include Salesforce (CRM software), Slack (collaboration and messaging), Asana (workflow management) and Canva (graphic design).
SaaS is aimed at end-users, who do not need to build their own infrastructure or customise their own code. The user simply creates an account and uses the application. The provider takes care of everything else: server hardware and software maintenance, user access and security management, data storage and management, upgrades and patches, etc.
The cloud sector is experiencing strong growth, largely driven by SaaS. According to a study by GP.Bullhound, the size of the average fundraising round has tripled between 2019 and 2022 (from an average of €4m to €12m). This reflects investors' interest in SaaS platforms, which often offer robust data analysis and reporting capabilities. Tools such as ScaleX help these investors to compare SaaS KPIs with industry standards: ARR per FTE, CAC payback, churn, net revenue retention, NPS, etc.
Office 365, Salesforce, Trello, Koban, Stripe, Slack, Cosmo Tech
In summary, PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS are distinct cloud computing models, each serving specific purposes in the tech ecosystem.
To cut a long story short, IaaS is designed for IT administrators or network architects, PaaS for software developers and SaaS for end users. PaaS empowers developers to create custom applications, SaaS provides ready-to-use software solutions, and IaaS offers scalable infrastructure resources.
For investors, understanding these differences is essential to assessing their technology investments and making informed decisions about the level of autonomy and services offered by the cloud solutions in their portfolio.
In a nutshell, SaaS platforms such as ScaleX can benefit bankers by offering streamlined investment management, enhanced security and compliance, flexibility, collaboration tools, access to the latest technologies, data analysis and risk management capabilities. ScaleX can also operate on a PasS model, connecting to our banking clients' servers and data, for example. These advantages can help bankers optimise their own operational efficiency.