Cloud computing is proving to be the forced choice for digital business, but each company must make precise assessments on the models to be adopted. What are the differences between Infrastracture-as-a-service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)? And which one is better?
All the numbers of the IaaS and PaaS market
According to Milan Politecnico (Cloud Transformation Observatory of the School of Management), in Italy the cloud market has reached a value of 2.77 billion euros, a growth of 18% compared to the final 2018.
The PaaS component grew by 38% to cover 16% of total cloud spending (the other shares relate to infrastructure and software sold as a service). The rise in popularity of the Platform-as-a-Service compared to other models is due, as the analysts of the Milanese university explain, to the need to have tools enabling the functions of artificial intelligence and Big Data Analytics, together with serverless architectures, features for software development and security management.
The IaaS paradigm is also growing, with an increase in spending equal to 24% and an acceleration especially in relation to container management services.
At an international level, according to Gartner, the PaaS market is destined for a bright future: from the approximately 20 billion dollars totaled in 2019, it will increase to 34 billion in 2022. The analysts' statements outline a new evolution of the cloud scenario: the trend is to adopt a holistic and almost obligatory strategy, where the PaaS, IaaS and SaaS components are integrated in a continuum or in a single integrated information environment.
Also according to Gartner, IaaS solutions recorded global growth of 31.3% in 2018 compared to the previous year, reaching 32.4 billion dollars. Amazon is dominating the ranking, followed by Microsoft, Alibaba, Google and IBM.
Differences between cloud infrastructures and platforms
But what exactly are the differences between the two cloud models?
IaaS solutions provide the customer with all the hardware resources necessary to meet corporate IT needs (servers, storage systems, network equipment), within a rent typically with a flat rate or based on consumption. In summary, the assets are provided as a service by the supplier's remote datacenter, relieving the user of the onerous activities for the construction of the facility and the implementation of technologies. There are therefore no initial costs for the purchase of hardware components, while the supplier takes care of all management, maintenance, updating and security of the physical infrastructure. IT administrators and company systems engineers obtain a high benefit in terms of efficiency and architectural flexibility. In fact, they no longer have to worry about managing and maintaining hardware components, but rather become "orchestrators" of services: thanks to special management dashboards, they can retrieve or dispose of cloud resources according to business needs, with unprecedented scalability and speed.
With PaaS, a further step is taken: the customer "rents" the entire platform, that is a complete processing environment equipped with a solution stack for developing, testing, implementing and maintaining business applications. Also in this case, the supplier manages the physical infrastructure within a contractual fee, also placing in the customer's hands all the tools and functionalities to perform software development, delivery and maintenance activities (for example, middleware, operating systems, database management tools, analytical features, and so on). The physical infrastructure underlying the platform can either be owned by the PaaS provider itself or by a third cloud provider. The advantage of using a platform as a service falls above all on developers, who have an integrated hardware and software environment to create, distribute, manage an application without the need to independently provision the underlying infrastructure.