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Getting into the Cloud: What are IaaS, PaaS and SaaS?

24. April 2019

There are still companies out there that think cloud is just a hype, and that owning your own servers is the only way to go. Cloud might have been a hype 25 years ago, when Microsoft bought Hotmail, but today it has become the most secure and scalable solution for companies that want to grow. Faisal Mahmood at Medialogix, a FotoWare partner in the UK, explains the difference between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS cloud service models and their benefits.

Back in 2003 I had an important task of getting our server up and running to receive email, run the website and store our company files. At that time I had to spend much of my time doing things I didn’t intend to do, such as increasing the storage, upgrading operation systems, repairing hardware, etc. Before long, I found a company who provided hosted email and website services and started using a local RAID storage device for the company files. This hugely reduced my workload, but I still had to deal with backing up the local storage.

Our business has been fully utilising cloud services since 2013. Now we no longer have anything stored locally. Even our developers use GitHub in the cloud to store their code. This left me to concentrate on the job at hand which is to help existing clients improve their usage of our software and acquire new business. The great thing about the annual subscription is that we can change our services easier than if we had paid a hefty price for perpetual software. And that gives us great flexibility.

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS - what do they really mean?

I often get questions from my customers on what the difference among cloud service models is and what they do. Let me give you a simple explanation using the car analogy, since I also love cars (almost as much as I love tech).

  • On-premises is like owning a car. When you purchase a car, you’re responsible for its repairs etc. When you need to upgrade you just buy a new car.

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is a little bit like hiring a car. When you hire a car, you choose the car you want and drive it, but the car doesn’t belong to you. When you want to upgrade you just hire a new car.

  • PaaS (Platform as a Service) is like taking a chauffeur driven car. You don’t drive a vehicle yourself, but simply tell the driver where you need to go and relax in the back seat.

  • SaaS (Software as a Service) is like going by train. Trains have assigned routes, and you share the ride with other passengers. (but without having to sit with them – you all have your very own carriage).

What are the benefits of each cloud service model?

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

IaaS is a cloud-based service that provides servers, storage and networking resources. Major IaaS providers include Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Compute Engine. This service is great for IT administrators and those with the technical knowledge but don’t want to have to worry about the hardware. It’s amazing that nowadays you can switch on hundreds of thousands of euros worth of equipment, use it for whatever purpose you need to and then switch it off and only pay for what you used.

Many of our clients require more control of their resources and software versions and configurations. As a FotoWare partner and Microsoft partner we provide fully managed services for organisations who need it. One such organisation is Nikkei. We are based in the UK and Nikkei are based in Japan. Without having to fly out, we can at the touch of a few buttons utilize Azure services hosted in data centers based in Tokyo. This makes it nice and fast for our client and it complies with their policy on where the data must be stored. Nikkei can focus on their business and we take care of their IT-infrastructure.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)

PaaS solutions are mostly used by software developers and software development companies. The great thing about PaaS is we can have environments for development, testing and managing applications and not worry about maintaining the server-side components of the infrastructure such as web servers, storage, network resources, etc. These tools can reduce the time it takes to code new app with pre-coded components built into the platform. Heroku, Amazon AWS Lambda and Google App Engine are also very popular services.

SaaS (Software as a Service)

SaaS allows you to use cloud-based web applications. Many email services such as Hotmail and Gmail are well known examples of SaaS. Other examples are software products such a Microsoft 365 and Google G Suite, Pipedrive customer relationship management software and even Netflix.

Usually you would pay for these services on a pay as you go monthly or annual payment. You don’t have to worry about hardware to setup or software to install and maintain. Usually the application is ready to go soon after you sign up and you get your username and password. And you always have the flexibility to add (or remove) users as your company grows. This leaves organisations with a huge advantage as they don’t have to make big upfront investments, but only pay for what they use. Not to mention the cost of server storage and risk of an outage.

FotoWare is also available as a SaaS and this is great for many organisations who want to use the solution with no big upfront investment or those who don't have enough IT resources to take care of the maintenance. FotoWare on the SaaS platform meets the requirement of most organisations and the uptake is growing. I think this is the future for all solution providers, and it is not in the too distant future.

FotoWare SaaS Trial

In today’s market of cloud services, customers have the flexibility to make the choices that fit their IT infrastructure requirements, and not being forced to managing their servers on site. This empowers especially the small and medium business segments, since in the past, the cost of owning servers was a risk factor in growing their business fast enough. But also, enterprise organisations are more and more leveraging the benefit of using Cloud infrastructure. Now IT personnel can spend time on business development tasks, rather than upgrading disk space. Lately at Medialogix we have seen a huge increase in enquiries about the cloud, and how to move data and start using cloud services. We are enjoying helping and advising customers and are proud to be part of their journey to growing their business. 

About Medialogix

Based in the UK, Medialogix was founded in 2003, and is a certified FotoWare Platinum partner and a Microsoft CSP Partner. Medialogix has been a FotoWare partner since 2003 and in that time has installed Digital Asset Management solutions to hundreds of clients in the UK.

Faisal Mahmood, Medialogix UK, at the FotoWare Partner Summit 2019