SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS: What Are The Differences?


Cloud computing has become the primary method for enterprises to handle operations throughout the business. There are a ton of cloud services and solutions, such as RedwoodConnect 2.0 available on the market.

But how do you know which will be best for your business?

In this quick guide, we’ll help you start your search by going through the three main categories of cloud computing: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. What are they, what are their differences, and how do you find the right cloud model for your company’s logistical needs? 

Already know the differences and ready to implement one of them in your supply chain operations? The Redwood Innovation team is standing by to help you properly implement and manage logistics tech such as our RedwoodDonnect 2.0 platform. Reach out to us today to set up your free consultation, or request a demo of RedwoodConnect 2.0 and let us show how much your supply chain, customers and your bottom-line stands to benefit.


Software as a Service (SaaS) 

Software as a Service, or SaaS, refers to cloud-based software that’s available for purchase, usually as a subscription. SaaS is the most commonly used computing service for businesses looking to build and grow their business without having to create their own applications. 

The software is already created by a third party and stored on a remote server. Your company can then purchase the right to use that software through an online platform. It’s hosted and delivered via the internet, which means you don’t have to have hardware or infrastructure in place in order to use it. It usually just requires a purchase, a login, and some basic training in order to get started. 

For example, you might use a freight management system to organize the movement of your freight from point A to B. Your business purchases a subscription to use that system, and each user simply logs into their dashboard using a login username through the internet. Anyone with a login can access the freight management system for a particular shipment. 

Essentially, you are purchasing the right to use pre-designed software for a specific function. 


Examples of SaaS


SaaS advantages

When you purchase software, you’re essentially getting a resource to use without any hassle. You don’t have to worry about handling the hardware, network, or any of the infrastructure, and you don’t have to create the solutions yourself. The vendor manages everything from storing the data to reminding you when to update. 

  • It doesn’t need to be downloaded or installed. Everything is accessible over the internet. (This works especially well for remote or global teams, so you don’t need multiple hardware for each location.) 
  • You’re not responsible for hardware or software updates. You get the best possible software without doing any extra work. 
  • It frees up a lot of time and resources. You don’t need an IT staff to download, create, and install applications. The vendor offers the support staff. 
  • Any issues that arise go to the vendor. It’s essentially hassle-free on your end. 
  • It’s easy to set up and start using. In most cases, you just purchase the subscription, login, and teach your employees how to use it. It’s that simple. 


SaaS disadvantages 

Just like buying any product or working with any partner, there are always going to be limitations. 

  • Certain platforms/software may not integrate with your business’s other systems. 
  • You are “locked-in” to the limitations of your vendor. You’re at the mercy of how they decide to operate and design the software. 
  • No software offers all your needs in one spot (unless you make it yourself, like a PaaS). You may need to forfeit some requirements to find a solution that fits closest to your needs. 
  • You typically can’t customize entirely to your desires. Some SaaS offer customization options, but they’re not usually too in-depth. 
  • There could be data security breaches that you can’t always control. 
  • A lot of software vendors have downtime to ensure peak performance of their networks and software. Even a short downtime could impact your business, so it’s important to be aware of this. 


Learn more: What Are The Pros and Cons of Using a SaaS For Your Supply Chain?

When you opt for the ease and convenience of SaaS, you sacrifice the control and customization of having a tailor-made solution (which we’ll talk about in the following section). 


Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers a framework where developers can build custom applications. With a SaaS, you’re purchasing the software itself. However, with most PaaS, you have to create your own software. Essentially, you are given the platform to easily design, create, and deploy the applications you want for your business from within the platform itself.

However, this is not always the case with certain solutions. For instance, with RedwoodConnect 2.0, you are given an entire framework complete with drag and drop functionality, but a lot of the heavy lifting is done for you. At the same time, RedwoodConnect 2.0 is built with flexible infrastructure in mind, allowing you to seamlessly integrate both APIs and EDIs to connect with your favorite platforms and applications.

Essentially, a PaaS makes it easy for you to create software without having to deal with data serving, storage, management, or infrastructure.  


Examples of PaaS


PaaS advantages

The primary advantage of using a PaaS is that you have control to create without the risk and responsibility of storing your creations. 

  • Unlike a SaaS, you have total control over the application creation. You can ensure all of your software’s features meet the needs of your business. 
  • You can create software without worrying about operating systems, software updates, storage, or infrastructure. You have more control but less responsibility. 
  • PaaS offers easy to use and cost-effective ways to develop and deploy applications. 
  • Platform services are scalable and available. You don’t need to purchase more hardware to develop additional or updated software. 
  • It requires less coding than developing software from scratch without a platform. 


PaaS disadvantages

  • You don’t have control over the infrastructure. If the PaaS vendor has an outage with their system or hardware, you’ll lose (temporarily or permanently) your software in tandem. You’re still reliant on the provider’s storage and security. 
  • Once you create software with a specific vendor, it’s hard to switch vendors or move your software to another platform. You can easily get “locked-in” to one vendor.  
  • There are some operational limitations. Although you can customize your software, the platform still has some boundaries. 

If you have an experienced IT team with the time, resources, and know-how to create custom applications, a PaaS is an effective way to store, develop, and deploy those apps. If you don’t need a custom solution, SaaS is still a simpler and more efficient method. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you need even more flexibility than creating a custom app, you’ll want to look into an IaaS. 


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) 

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offers cloud-based infrastructure resources. It’s a unique model in that you get “hardware” resources available as a subscription-based service, delivered via virtualization tech.

Essentially, you can access and store data on the vendor’s servers through an online dashboard or application programming interface (API). You can store, design, deploy, and employ just about any sort of applications, software, or data you’d like. You’re paying mostly for storage and server space, so you don’t have to manage servers yourself. 

Infrastructure as a Service has become a popular new foundation to deliver technologies over the cloud, minimizing the need for hardware servers, systems, and storage. For large organizations with a lot of data and a skilled IT team, an IaaS can be a highly adaptable way to handle all of your systems through one platform.

You can purchase infrastructure on-demand and as-needed, as opposed to buying hardware outright, which is a smart move if you’re considering utilizing your own servers, operating systems, and other hardware. You get the same capabilities as a data center without having to physically maintain or manage it in-house. However, you do still have to handle most of the aspects of it like runtime, OSes, middleware, data, storage, application creation and deployment, and more. 


Examples of IaaS


IaaS advantages

IaaS is the most dynamic and flexible cloud-computing model. You can easily scale based on the needs of your business. You retain the greatest amount of control over your software and hardware, while still not being responsible for the basics of putting it all together. 

  • It’s a scalable form of infrastructure since your hardware purchases are based on consumption. You don’t have to purchase the hardware upfront, instead of paying on an as-needed basis. 
  • It’s cost-efficient. You pay only for what you need and use. 
  • IaaS is easy to automate. Once it’s up and running, your IT team should have no problem employing it. 


IaaS disadvantages

Although an IaaS offers a great deal of flexibility, it brings with it a new level of responsibility as well. You have the responsibility of running the infrastructure properly and securely. You still face security threats, and you’ll need downtime in order to ensure peak performance. 

Most importantly, an IaaS requires a significant amount of internal resources and training. You need people in-house who can handle the setup and continuous monitoring and management. This means you’ll need dedicated professionals with adequate training (and salary) specifically for this purpose. An IaaS is a much more significant and resource-intensive investment than a PaaS or SaaS. 


SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS: Which is right for me? 

There’s no universal answer for the “best” type of cloud computing services. It’s all about finding the right fit for your business’s unique needs. 

SaaS is software you can buy. It’s simple, easy to use, and has a limited responsibility. Because you’re buying pre-designed software, there are restrictions on features and customizations. Still, if you don’t have unique needs and a dedicated team, a SaaS is the simplest and most cost-effective choice. 

If you’re looking to build a unique solution for your business, though, a PaaS offers flexibility while still providing ease of operation. The PaaS offers a platform on which to run your app, so you have the foundation and network in place for whatever software you decide to create. This requires a specialized team to create, deploy, and manage the applications for your business. 

If you still want more agility and control than that, an IaaS offers the infrastructure foundation. You are essentially paying for the hardware, network, servers, and other systems as a service, and then you have the freedom to do what you’d like. This requires a lot of professional IT skills and expertise, but it enables a high level of flexibility for your operating systems. If you have the team and require lots of customization, you might want to employ an IaaS to reduce the need for purchasing hardware for your business.  


Everything as a Service (XaaS) 

We’re seeing the term XaaS used more frequently as solutions are becoming more all-encompassing. This refers to “everything as a service,” with companies offering all of the above as well as data-driven IoT devices and solutions. These are customized, responsive offerings with a high level of data generation, analysis, and usage.

The purpose of any technology is to innovate quickly, enhance customer service, and better sustain operations. A XaaS solution should theoretically be able to handle all of your business’s needs with advanced, machine-learning tech solutions.  

If you’re looking for the most cutting-edge and innovative tech on the market, look no further than Redwood Logistics. It’s our goal to create custom solutions that transport your business to optimal success. Whether you want integrative SaaS offerings or help to create custom applications for your logistics team, our extensive services have you covered. 

Request your free consultation now.

We only have a few spots available weekly to ensure we provide the most in-depth review, analysis, and solutions to our clients. We can help determine which cloud computing model and tech solutions will be best for your operations.