14/02/2017
OCSL Editor

IaaS vs PaaS Pros and Cons. In a world where the IT landscape is moving ever quicker it is all too easy to get overly consumed by the variety of options available to your business. You start to question everything and answer nothing. So how do you choose the right path between competing options, such as IaaS and PaaS?

IaaS vs PaaS - Is compromise the key?

Some might say, by compromising no one gets what they want. Others might say, it’s better to bend a bit rather than break.  But at the end of the day, it’s not about being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; it’s about getting the best solution.

This is certainly true when you start to look at (IaaS) - Infrastructure-as-a-Service and (PaaS) Platform-as-a-Service and what each can deliver for your business. There are pros and cons for both.  And it all comes down to matching requirements to the best solution.

So what is IaaS? With IaaS, you are basically treating Data Centre resources like a utility. It provides virtualised hardware to give access to compute, storage and network resources. And you have ability to configure it, your way. You can request a new virtual machine when you want it, close it down when you are finished with it and you pay for what you use. Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) fall into this category.

PaaS then takes matters to the next stage.  It enables developers to deploy and manage applications without the need to worry about the compute resources or number of machines required. With PaaS a business can more or less remove its Operations Team.  In turn, allowing it to focus on its application and let the service provider worry about  infrastructure, security and scalability. Gartner’s 2016 ‘Magic Quadrant’ puts Microsoft as a Leader in this area, with Google as a challenger.

But without IaaS it is likely that PaaS would not exist. IaaS is the very important foundation with PaaS being the next logical step.

So which is the winner? IaaS or PaaS?

Neither. On performance you will see little difference. “Noisy-neighbours” could impact your application’s performance on some public PaaS providers, where-as with IaaS you can choose to use larger virtual instances to negate this.

On reliability, again there is little to choose between them. Yes there is more to go wrong using PaaS but equally you have more application management control.

On scalability PaaS is slightly ahead as it is more automated to meet a demand such as high traffic volumes whereas with IaaS such intervention is more manual. However, it is seconds versus minutes as opposed to hours and days.

Even on cost it is a case of swings and roundabouts. With IaaS you can mirror your workload to a cost, whereas with PaaS you provision and pay for precisely the resources that you need to run your application workload. Incremental jumps in virtual sizing can make IaaS uneconomic due to unused capacity, so this can be a downside.

IaaS vs PaaS Conclusion – The separation of responsibility

One size never fits all. It’s critical is to match your business need to the right solution. Perhaps the best way to look at this, is by way of a separation of responsibility. If your business just wants to concentrate on its application and data then PaaS is the path. You get the compute resources you want without the worry of maintaining it. If on the other hand your business wants more control, then I’d suggest IaaS is the route to take.

If you’re considering IaaS or PaaS, we can help you gain a better understanding of which might be the best route for your organisation. Using our proven enablement framework we can help develop a clear roadmap, ensure quality and help minimise costs upfront.

If you would like to know how to get started on this journey and want to have an initial conversation, please get in touch.

Thought piece