Types of Cloud Computing: Infrastructure, Platform, and Software Services

A hamburger sounds good for dinner, doesn’t it? A nicely formed patty on a bun, layered with cheese, pickles, some BBQ sauce sounds delicious. The question is, how much effort do you want to go to to make it.

You could go to the store to buy the meat and toppings and make it yourself. You could also go to the deli section and buy pre-made hamburgers and grill them yourself. Or you could go a restaurant and have it made for you and brought to your table by an accommodating waiter.

That burger isn’t so different from cloud computing. There are a number of options of what type of service you order. Cloud computing providers offer a multitude of options, and they break down into three main categories, depending on how much “cooking” you want to do.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides the hardware to get the job done. This typically includes networking, computers, and data storage space. When you obtain IaaS, you’re paying for the parts and pieces to construct what you want, akin to going to the store and buying the products to make your own burgers.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is the next option, where the vendor provides the infrastructure, which allows you to focus on deploying and managing your application(s). Using PaaS provides freedom from hardware procurement, updating software, and capacity planning. Go buy the pre-made burger patties from the store. You still have to cook them, but a lot of the work is done for you.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is just like going to a restaurant where the burger you choose the type of burger you want, and it’s delivered cooked, dressed to your liking, and served with a side of choice. SaaS vendors provide the entire package: infrastructure, the platform, and the application. This type of cloud computing removes concerns regarding infrastructure, the platform, and updates/upgrades to the service. As the customer, you are left to focus on how you’ll use the application to achieve your desired outcome.

The type of cloud computing you use is dependent upon many factors, but there are services available to meet your needs. Typically costs increase as you move from IaaS to SaaS, though those costs can still be less expensive than providing the service in-house. In Private, Public and Hybrid, we break down where and how you and cloud services house your data.

For more information, or to contact the Illinois Amazon Web Services team, email aws-support@illinois.edu