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How to choose between IaaS and SaaS cloud models?

Author:QINSUN Released in:2024-01 Click:89

Once you decide to migrate to the cloud, the next step is to determine the service model that suits your needs. The choice largely depends on how much control your organization wants to have over its cloud environment and applications.

There are three overall models in cloud computing:

IaaS. Third party providers provide and maintain core infrastructure components such as servers, networks, and storage. IaaS user management and monitoring of OS, data, workloads, and applications. Examples include AWS and Microsoft Azure.

PaaS. Third party providers provide application development platforms and tools. Users are responsible for these environments, but PaaS providers provide and manage the infrastructure. Examples include Google App Engine and Red Hat OpenShift.

SaaS. Third party providers host applications for customers. SaaS providers handle all maintenance and support, eliminating the need for users to install and run their own infrastructure and software. Examples include Microsoft 365 and Salesforce.

We will briefly introduce PaaS, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on IaaS and SaaS, as they are two outstanding models. They also provide a significant contrast in the choices that organizations must make.

Should you use the IaaS model for more control and customization, or would you rather choose a lower priced and less managed SaaS model? To determine whether IaaS or SaaS is the right choice, cloud architects must consider user needs and customization, while also paying attention to cost.

Prioritize users over costs

In IT, technology often drives decisions rather than users. On the contrary, user needs should be taken as the starting point for making decisions between IaaS and SaaS.

Choose a cloud service model and place it within guidelines and exceptions. Consider the features that users may want. Even small requests, such as changes to document routing processes or data input options, may require a significant amount of work in the backend. If these features are largely unnoticed and unused, then SaaS may be more suitable.

At other times, this fine-grained control is worth it, especially for IT. For example, one of the hidden challenges of using multiple cloud environments is that they all have different interfaces, which makes it difficult for them to work together. With IaaS, you can build unique solutions to solve this problem in ways that SaaS cannot achieve.

Regardless, decisions regarding IaaS and SaaS should not solely rely on IT. Before conducting any cloud migration, architects need to collaborate with application owners, operations, and end users.

Users need specialized reports and settings to prevent migration to the cloud, which have been proven to be preferred when surveyed. Have a clear understanding of your organization's needs before migration and maintain communication afterwards, so you are aware of any further adjustments and compromises.

Just ensure that IT can still control everything during the planning phase, otherwise things will get out of control due to too many requests and demands. This is especially true for IaaS, which provides more customization features.

Considering costs

Cost calculation is part of the dialogue between IaaS and SaaS, but do not let it drive the choice. Otherwise, you may encounter models that cannot be used. You may spend more money repairing it, or if you have to take another path, you may lose your investment money.

Cloud infrastructure is usually more expensive than application subscriptions, but it has proven to be a unique feature of your business. The flexibility required by users can help you make decisions about IaaS and SaaS.

After selecting the model, move on to more complex tasks such as budget responsibilities, management expenses, and other aspects when preparing to transfer from capital expenditures to operational expenditures. In the new cloud environment, IT must demonstrate flexibility and evolve to handle different budgets and reporting structures.

However, do not expect significant changes in personnel configuration. Some responsibilities may be adjusted, but most of them were completed a few years ago, so cost savings will not be achieved by reducing personnel. This does not mean that you will have more IaaS employees than SaaS. This is an adjustment of roles and responsibilities, but it is customary for most IT personnel.

PaaS is a suitable place for IaaS and SaaS discussions

If you want to be in the middle between IaaS and SaaS, PaaS is certainly a choice. It eliminates many operational burdens of IaaS while providing greater flexibility than SaaS.

But this is not a panacea, it has not been adopted by enterprises like the other two cloud delivery models.

Part of the reason is that you are in the gray area, with one foot on both sides of the debate. It forces your organization to adopt balanced behavior that may not fully meet half of your needs. However, it is not entirely without its advantages, and when IaaS and SaaS do not reduce it for specific use cases, some people may find it a better choice for them.

Today's plan

When evaluating custom options, please evaluate based on current needs (not tomorrow's needs). Organizations often encounter future problems and plan for the next three to five years. This leads them to make purchases based on the idea that they will need some necessary customization, but these customizations usually never appear.

The requirements are constantly changing, and as a result, the application stack and design are also constantly changing. It is unrealistic to plan software consistency several years in advance. You may pay more for customization that you have never actually used before. In this case, if your application currently does not require any customization, the SaaS model would be a better and cheaper choice.

However, if your IT team has a history of an application and successfully modifies it, migrating to the cloud will not change it. In these cases, IaaS is an ideal choice as it can serve as a new platform to continue executing the work already underway.

IaaS and SaaS: Use Cases

Organizations will need to conduct due diligence to determine the model that suits their needs. However, as more and more workloads migrate to the cloud, trends related to IaaS and SaaS are beginning to emerge. With the migration of healthcare, education, accounting, and human resources systems to the cloud, the IaaS platform has begun to develop.

Applications that are updated annually, such as HR and accounting, seem to be at the forefront and are rapidly shifting towards SaaS based applications. Large systems with larger Unix backends, such as education and healthcare workloads, are often more challenging and often require the flexibility provided by IaaS or even PaaS.