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A Beginners Guide to Understanding the 3 Main Categories of Cloud Computing



A Beginners Guide to Understand the 3 Main Categories of Cloud Computing

I was once like you. I had no idea what cloud computing meant, what it does, or what it was all about. All I knew was that it was popping up wherever I turned.

At first, I thought to myself, let it go, you don’t really need to understand it. But my curiosity won and I couldn’t just let it slide. So I dug deep into the topic.

And guess what? I never stopped digging because it was a lot of fun…

So you see, I understand how confusing cloud computing might seem to you, the terminologies, and the complexity of it all. I understand it all because I have been there.

Which is why I’ll be doing my best to break it all down.

Today we’ll be discussing the three main categories of Cloud Computing.

But first,


Why Cloud Computing?

“There is nothing permanent except change”- Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher.

A while back, businesses functioned a little differently. They had an IT infrastructures setup that cost lots of money and expertise. 

During this period, the IT team was in charge of planning and doing everything that would be needed. They planned the hardware that would be needed, bought it, set it up, installed and configured it for the benefit of all end-users in the organization.

This means that the organization must invest in:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Maintenance
  • Support
  • Customization
  • Manpower

What all these translates into is operational cost and quite a few small businesses found it hard to afford these things, but as usual, the business must go on. But a solution was just around the corner, and that solution was cloud computing

With Cloud Computing, businesses no longer needed the IT infrastructures which costs a lot of money. All they needed was the internet. And with this, businesses would be able to rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider.


What are the 3 main categories of cloud computing?


  1. Software-as-a-service (SaaS)
  2. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)
  3. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)


What exactly does SaaS mean?

SaaS is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” and it is the version of cloud computing that most people are used to on a day-to-day basis. SaaS is a method of software delivery that allows data to be accessed from any device with an internet connection and web browser.

Basically, SaaS is a software that’s available via a third-party over the internet.

Typical or common examples of SaaS include:

  • BigCommerce 
  • Google Apps
  • Salesforce
  • Dropbox
  • MailChimp 
  • ZenDesk
  • DocuSign 
  • Slack
  • Hubspot

There’s basically no need to install and run software applications on your computer or any device for that matter. Everything you’ll need is available over the internet when you log into your account. With SaaS, you no longer need to engage an IT specialist to download the software onto multiple computers throughout your office. Everything is taken care of in the cloud. 

SaaS providers function on a subscription-based model. Most of these subscriptions include maintenance, compliance and security services.

SaaS possesses a lot of advantages which includes:

  • Worldwide access
  • Ability to connect remote staffs
  • The vendor handles the support, update, and maintenance.


What is IaaS?

According to Microsoft Azure, “Infrastructure-as-a-service is an instant computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the internet.”

Examples of IaaS include:

  • DigitalOcean
  • Linode
  • Rackspace
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) 
  • Cisco Metapod 
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Compute Engine (GCE)

IaaS is mainly used by companies that are interested in building their applications from the very ground up and want to control nearly all the elements involved. IaaS requires the firms interested in its usage to have the technical skills to be able to use their services.

One of the major advantages of IaaS is that it provides access to highly scalable IT resources that can be adjusted as demand for capacity changes. This makes the model ideal for companies that experience temporarily high workloads, such as what many trailers face during the holiday shopping season. 


What is PaaS?

Also known as Platform-as-a-service, it delivers a framework for developers that they can build upon and use to create customized applications. The servers, storage, and networking can be managed by the enterprise or a third-party provider while the developers can maintain management of the applications.

PaaS is a somewhat similar so SaaS. The difference being that instead of delivering the software over the internet, PaaS provides a platform for software creation.

Examples of PaaS include:

  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • Windows Azure
  • Heroku, 
  • Google App Engine
  • Apache Stratos
  • OpenShift



We’ve discussed the 3 main categories of cloud computing, which includes:

  • SaaS (Software-as-a-service)
  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service)
  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-service)

If you need to ask questions about anything, check my email in my bio and send me a message. I hope you learned something new today.