SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS: A Guide to Choosing the Right Cloud Service Model

img cloud iStock 807253128

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) are three distinct cloud service models that have revolutionized the way businesses access and utilize technology. Each one gives your organization different levels of control and customization over your IT resources and applications, so it’s crucial that you choose the right model for your specific needs.

Let’s take a look at what each model offers and which one might be the best fit for your business.


SaaS is the simplest and easiest to use of the three. It involves a subscription or pay-per-use payment structure and provides access to cloud software hosted on a provider’s infrastructure. There’s no need for you to buy, rent, or maintain your own network infrastructure; you can easily access apps and storage, typically through a web browser.

Examples of SaaS solutions include Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Google Workspace.

Fast and easy setup and managementLow price, as there is no need to buy or rent hardwareSupport and network maintenance provided by the vendor
Little control over computing resources and low customizabilityLess than ideal integrations, as in-house apps or data structures may not be compatible with a baseline SaaS setup


PaaS provides a platform for organizations to not only host cloud resources but also develop and deploy their own. This model is a good middle-of-the-road solution, as it provides much of the accessibility and simplicity of SaaS while also enabling custom app and database development.

PaaS is ideal if you want to code and develop software without worrying about infrastructure management and maintenance. Examples of PaaS solutions are Azure App Service, Heroku, and OpenShift.

Provides a wide range of tools and services for app development and managementCan be conveniently delivered via a web browser with no additional hardware or infrastructure required
Not as easy to mix and match apps and services from different providers compared to SaaSLow scalability and capacity compared to IaaS, so upscaling and meeting peak service demands might be slower and more difficult


IaaS is the most complex and involved model, as it requires the hosting of infrastructure components, including servers, data storage, and network hardware. It also typically includes virtualized computing services. Instead of paying for access to software on the vendor’s terms, organizations rent data center space and resources that they can then do with as they please.

IaaS requires you to manage the operating system, apps, and data hosted on this rented infrastructure, but this gives you unparalleled control and flexibility compared to SaaS and PaaS. Examples of IaaS solutions include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

If you need more or less resources and infrastructure, you can simply alter your subscription plan so that you have the resources you need when you need themYou get the benefits of a customized infrastructure without having to purchase, house, and maintain it, with additional support from the vendor
Your apps and sensitive data are hosted on the IaaS provider’s infrastructure, putting cloud security in the hands of a third partyIf the IaaS provider experiences downtime, then you might lose access to your resources and services for reasons beyond your control

Which cloud service is best for your business?

Choosing the right cloud service model for your organization depends on several factors, including your budget, existing IT resources and expertise, specific business needs, and more.

SaaS might be best for you if your business:

  • Only needs enterprise software to function
  • Has few or no in-house IT staff
  • Does not require custom apps or network architecture

Meanwhile, PaaS may be ideal if your business:

  • Utilizes custom-built apps and/or databases
  • Employs many coders and developers, but few or no network administration staff
  • Wants to focus on development and does not need highly scalable resources

Finally, IaaS might be most suitable if your business:

  • Requires more granular control over computing resources and infrastructure
  • Experiences high and/or fluctuating demand for cloud resources
  • Needs to deploy and host a wide variety of components, such as websites, testing environments, and custom apps

At Liberty Center One, we understand the importance of choosing the right cloud service model for your unique needs. Our experienced team can help you navigate through the complexities of selecting and implementing the best solution for your business. Contact us today to learn more about our IT offerings and how we can support your organization’s growth in the cloud.