Small Business Trends

What Are the 3 Cloud Computing Service Delivery Models?

By | 7 min read | Published

Learn what cloud delivery models are available, and which one your business needs.

Cloud computing changed how businesses use technology. It has made remote work as efficient as in-person, in-office work, has given companies the ability to scale their infrastructure with the click of a button, and has made physical hardware and its maintenance a thing of the past for IT staff.

But in the wide landscape of cloud services, platforms, and software delivery, how can you determine which cloud delivery model is right for your business? (Especially if you’re unsure what a cloud delivery model even is.)

This article is here to help by introducing the three most common cloud computing service delivery models, as well as how you can choose one that fits your technology goals.

What are the most common cloud computing service delivery models?

When looking for a cloud solution, the first step is understanding the differences between the three common types of cloud delivery models, which are commonly known by their acronyms:

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Depending on the use case, a business may need one, two, or all three types of delivery models, as they each serve different purposes and can work together to provide a customized IT solution.

Understanding the 3 primary cloud delivery models

The main difference between the three types of cloud delivery models is the balance of responsibilities between a cloud services provider and the business using their services, as well as the type of services provided.

Let’s look at each model in detail.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Of the three types of services, the one most people are familiar with is SaaS, though they might not know it. This is because a lot of the software you use on your phone, around the house, and at the office are SaaS applications.

With the SaaS model, a cloud provider manages fully functional software for their customers. Customers rent the use of these apps based on the number of features they want and the number of users that will be accessing the app. Customers access the provided application/services via the internet.

SaaS is one of the earliest types of cloud computing services, launched in the 1990s. The model quickly became popular as businesses can simply use the software without having to manage it. The SaaS provider handles software management as part of the service they provide, and the only end user requirements are a web browser and internet connection.

SaaS benefits include:

  • No software licenses: Businesses don’t have to worry about licenses because SaaS uses a subscription model.
  • No software maintenance: SaaS applications are always up to date, and the cloud service provider handles maintenance.
  • Can run on almost any device: Since SaaS applications are delivered via the internet, you don’t need a different version for each device or expensive, high-performance hardware to run them.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IT infrastructure refers to the components needed to manage a business’ IT services and IT environments. This includes hardware, software, networking components, data storage, and more.

Traditionally, businesses house all of these components in their own corporate data center, which involve a lot of work and maintenance. With this approach, businesses have to buy server hardware, networking hardware, and other equipment and pay for the space to house it. They also have to perform regular maintenance on all of this equipment.

In the IaaS cloud delivery model, this infrastructure is provided by the cloud service provider. Cloud providers use virtualization software to transform physical hardware into metered services that are delivered to customers via the internet. With IaaS, businesses can manage their infrastructure in a web browser or through an API instead of through hardware.

Businesses use IaaS because it is:

  • Reliable: Cloud service providers have redundant resources that are located all over the globe, which eliminates single points of failure.
  • Cost-effective: With IaaS, you don’t have to purchase hardware and pay only for the resources you use as you use them.
  • Flexible: IaaS can scale to fit a business’ needs with a click of a button through virtualization.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Businesses that develop their own software use PaaS. Typically, developing an application involves a lot of hardware and software.

The source code has to be stored in centralized code repositories so developers can collaborate. It has to be built and tested, and run in different environments. One for developers to experiment in, one for QA to test the application in, and one for the live application seen by end users.

With PaaS, the cloud services vendor provides all required hardware and software to develop applications over the internet. Benefits of PaaS include:

  • Collaboration: Because all the source code, software, and hardware are accessed via the internet, it is always up to date and never has to be manually updated to keep everyone in sync.
  • Efficiency: Instead of dealing with infrastructure, developers and programmers can focus on developing applications.
  • Simplicity: All the tools developers need to write code are provided in one environment.

Which cloud computing model is right for your business?

All three of these cloud computing models can save a business money, but whether they can save your business money depends on your needs.

Is SaaS the right choice?

Of the three cloud computing models, SaaS is the most popular and is available in almost every category your business could need, including email management software, document management solutions, CRM, and ERP applications.

For most small and midsize businesses, SaaS is the right choice because it offers all the features they need without the hassle of managing and updating the software.

For larger businesses or businesses that require customized applications, SaaS may not be the best choice, depending on how much customization is needed. SaaS software can be customized to an extent through configuration and can offer a lot of features, but the features it comes with are the features you get.

Is IaaS the right choice?

If your business requires computing resources such as servers, networking, databases, file storage, and other IT infrastructure but lacks the time or staff to upgrade your own data center, IaaS is a good choice. An IaaS cloud provider will deliver these services to your business over the internet.

When it comes to IaaS, you have a few service models to choose from depending on your business needs:

  • Private cloud: Your business owns and manages the hardware the cloud runs on and doesn’t share it with anyone else. This is often the choice of companies that want more customization options or have strict security standards.
  • Public cloud: With a public cloud delivery model, the hardware is managed and owned by the cloud provider. This vendor provides on-demand cloud infrastructure via the internet, and this infrastructure is typically shared by multiple organizations simultaneously.
  • Hybrid cloud: This type combines both a private cloud and a public cloud that are connected via VPN.

Is PaaS the right choice?

If your business develops its own software and doesn’t want to maintain the infrastructure to do so, PaaS is a good choice. PaaS gives programmers a platform they can develop and test applications on without the upkeep.

A cloud-based development platform makes it easier for developers around the globe to collaborate on code projects because they can access all necessary tools via the internet. With PaaS, they can quickly (and simply) test, run, deploy, and scale applications.

Expand your knowledge of cloud computing

With your newfound understanding of cloud delivery models, you’re better equipped to select the type of cloud computing services that best fits your business. Remember that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision; each company has unique needs, and the flexibility of cloud computing allows for granular customization for your business.

Continue your cloud computing journey with these resources:


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About the Author

Stephan Miller - Guest Contributor

Stephan Miller - Guest Contributor

Stephan Miller is a freelance writer and software developer specializing in software and programming. He has written two books for Packt Publishing.

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