Financial Advisory Blog

Armanino’s Financial Advisory blog is your source for thought leadership around cloud ERP and accounting solutions and integrations. Supported by the Cloud Accounting Institute and numerous experts in cloud, finance, reporting, integration, compliance, and technology, Armanino’s Financial Advisory blog features must-read content on what’s happening in the finance industry, case studies, white papers, and much more.

January 28, 2014

SaaS, IaaS and PaaS: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Lindy Antonelli

“The cloud has had a transformational impact on businesses of all sizes—from small and mid sized businesses (SMBs) to large enterprises—and it’s showing no signs of slowing down,” writes Desire Athow in her recent article posted to However, even with increasing acceptance of cloud-based solutions, there may still be some confusion regarding the different service models available to consumers.

To help clarify the three main types of cloud service models—software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)—Athow interviewed Mike Kavis, Principal Cloud Architect and VP for a cloud-based software implementation and service provider headquartered in Boston, MA. He answered:

SaaS: SaaS is the ultimate level of abstraction. With SaaS, the entire application or service is delivered over the web through a browser and or via an API. In this service model, the consumer only needs to focus on administering users to the system. SaaS is very common for non-core competency type applications like customer relationship management (CRM), human resources applications, and financial and accounting applications

Iaas: IaaS abstracts the underlying infrastructure and data center capabilities so that consumers no longer have to rack and stack hardware, power and cool data centers, and procure hardware. Computer resources can be provisioned on demand as a utility, much like how we consume water and electricity today.

PaaS: PaaS takes us one level higher in the stack and abstracts that operating system, database, application server, and programming language. Consumers using PaaS can focus on building software on top of the platform and no longer have to worry about installing, managing, and patching LAMP stacks or Windows operating systems. PaaS also takes care of scaling, failover and many other technical design considerations so that developers can focus on business applications and less on the underlying IT “plumbing.”

To read the full interview, and learn what you should consider when deciding which service model might be best for your business, click here.

Here is an example of existing SaaS, IaaS and PaaS Solutions:

SaaS PaaS IaaS


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