Blurring the lines: are IaaS and PaaS still two separate concepts?

Blurring the lines: are IaaS and PaaS still two separate concepts?

Cloud computing now dominates the IT landscape from personal to enterprise level use. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is quickly growing in popularity for larger companies, as in this model, businesses use a pay-as-you-go cloud infrastructure from a service provider.

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model which is the “abstraction of the underlying application stack”.  The platform allows users to have a dedicated space to build and test applications, usually used by software developers or businesses wanting to create their own internal software. This means developers don’t have to manage operating systems, databases, application servers or programming stacks, letting them focus on their core business goals. 

These two markets are moving closer and closer together, with customers needing guidance to make a decision between the two, or whether to adopt the best integrated offerings from outsourcing experts. This has wide reaching implications for the vendors as they look to combine their services, but a number of challenges come with both models.

Why choose IaaS?

IaaS is often chosen purely for its cost saving benefits; it allows businesses to pick and choose what they need in a modular fashion, maintaining low infrastructure costs. It also means businesses don’t have to invest capital into creating servers, hardware and storage of infrastructure. This is definitely the emerging choice for large-scale companies.

IaaS also offers scaling and flexibility, as the providers keep the physical hardware and servers, so companies can add or subtract these when needed. This is particularly useful for when companies see spikes in their usage or, for example, have seasonal work dictating their workloads.

Benefits of PaaS

PaaS also offers reduced costs, as system engineers are no longer required to maintain the networking layer, operating system, or server hardware, as users rent this for a subscription fee from the provider.

When choosing between the two models, it can be put simply as choosing between flexibility and simplicity. IaaS gives customers flexibility by giving access to virtual machines and they can create their own server and databases as needed, installing the desired middleware software. On the other hand, PaaS platforms hide the underlying hardware, allowing users to access databases and webservers without the need to install and configure the applications themselves. This removes the complexity of the middleware infrastructure, providing all the facilities needed to build and deliver applications and services to be deployed over the internet.

Distinctions are blurring

The distinctions between the service types used to be quite obvious, but they have lessened in recent times as more organisations have moved to using the cloud for both IaaS and PaaS at the same time. Automated provision of resources is made easier with cloud convergence, IT managers no longer needing to patch together different systems.

Although IaaS is more complex for the customer to maintain, it remains appealing to enterprises requiring the additional adaptability and control. With Amazon web Service (AWS), vendors are able to provide PaaS as a functionality on top of IaaS, making it more appealing for the customer to select the IaaS route, as they know they can also benefit from increased functionality of PaaS. However, this may also make organisations overlook the complete value of PaaS.

Converging the models

Recent trends have suggested that as the lines between these types of services blur, it is resulting in easier relationships between users and vendors. If both IaaS and PaaS can be provided by the same vendor, it’s one less relationship to manage when looking to move these responsibilities to the cloud.

As developers are often looking to launch their new platforms on a server infrastructure, it makes sense for them to be able to perform both tasks within a single environment. Due to this, it’s only natural that vendors are converging their services into one offering to make the management easier for IT teams and managers. The process for migrating to the cloud can be complex but with a reliable vendor, like, you will be able to smoothly navigate through the complex world.

When in the cloud, it’s important to know where responsibility lies. The more the vendor delivers, the more they are responsible for – so, in IaaS, they shoulder less responsibility. The more the vendor provides, the more control the business loses. Therefore, in converged systems, knowing where the responsibility lies is key, particularly if you work in a regulated environment.

Vendors need to keep the needs of their customers at the forefront when developing their portfolio of services. Over time, the line between PaaS and IaaS is likely to become even more blurred. Choosing a reliable partner in the cloud is the most important decision.

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