The increasing range of options within the cloud computing niche has created a sense of confusion, particularly for businesses trying to evaluate which of these technologies is best suited for their operational requirements. The following is an attempt to dissect each of the cloud computing solutions— SaaS, IaaS & PaaS, easing the decision-making process for making the move to the cloud.
This cloud computing format is often referred to as being a finished product. SaaS is quite common in the form of free email services we use. If you are using Gmail, you are not hosting an email server. You are essentially using a free online email service being hosted by Google. As a SaaS cloud computing user, you are just accessing this service. You are the browser and the client. Just like this browser-client example, most SaaS applications are directed towards end-users in an organization. Just like using Gmail, the end users don’t need to make much effort to get started or understand the platform. The provider can allocate what kind of resources should be provided to the end-users. The provider is responsible for sourcing the networking equipment, servers and software requirements.
IaaS represents a slightly different spectrum of cloud computing. An IaaS user is essentially seeking to maintain some degree of control over the software-related environment without caring for the hardware or equipment part. An IaaS user doesn’t want to spend resources on assembling servers or paying bills for maintaining servers in massive, chilled warehouses. Thus, the user requests these services from an IaaS provider who provides virtual use of such equipment for a fee. Most IaaS providers offer storage facility and other computing resources that a user can request on-the-go. Established IaaS providers include global brands like IBM and Amazon EC2.
PaaS is regarded as the mid-range or the halfway cloud-computing solution, delicately poised between IaaS and SaaS. Unlike SaaS, it isn’t a packed, ready-to-use solution and unlike IaaS, it doesn’t provide as much degree of control over the choice of software. PaaS is more oriented towards providing a customized cloud computing environment. It allows developers to use various tools for developing a platform that is best suited to an organization’s requirement. Microsoft Windows Azure is one such example. It gives users a range of tools to create the kind of social or mobile applications that can be conceptualized and created within the Azure environment and then run as per the user’s preference.
Understanding Choosing Between SaaS, IaaS, PaaS with an Example
The healthcare industry is becoming increasingly organized after a slew of reforms, including federal government patronized rulings like HIPAA, have been introduced recently. Physician offices and hospitals are increasingly searching for software solutions that can regulate their entire range of services such as transaction processing and billing. These healthcare centers and their business associates, together referred to as ‘covered entities’, need to ensure that they maintain compliance or risk facing severe financial & legal penalties. This is why most healthcare organizations now seek to adopt Healthcare Contract Management Systems where each option is essentially a software solution using PaaS, IaaS or SaaS. For instance, in a hospital, a hospital contract management software can be based on either of these three cloud computing offerings. When deciding between the three, the hospital should make a simple comparison of features, like:
- Offers software as the main service
- User gets a complete application package
- Users have limited range of choices, i.e. customization is compromised
- Offers infrastructure as the main service
- Computing choices of user need should be well-defined
- Users can demand more storage or computing power
- Offers a user-friendly platform as the main service
- Allows users to develop applications and execute them
- Offers better security, database management and workflow management
- SaaS is best suited for end users who don’t want to be bothered by software or hardware-related choices. A healthcare contract management system based on SaaS is perfect for a physician’s office with limited billing/technical staff.
- IaaS offers options for decreasing/increasing computing capacity but this solicits the presence of developers.
- PaaS is ideally suited for expert application developers—not the best bet for service providers seeking to pay fixed fee for ready-to-use software solutions.
Contract Logix is an invnovating company in the contract management industry that creates tools to simplify all processes throghout your contract management lifecycle. Follow Contract Logix on Twitter at @ContractLogix.