Cloud Flavors: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS

Everybody is using it, but nobody knows precisely what it is and it’s various flavors … the cloud.

This info-graphic from nicely clarifies SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.


This info-graphic accurately captures the popular meaning of “public” cloud computing, running remote workloads over the internet a commercial provider’s data center, e.g., Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Salesforce’s CRM system.  NIST has formalized these three cloud Service Models and also provided a list of essential characteristics (on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured service) and deployment models (private, community, public, hybrid).

Of course, the list continues to expand getting both more specialized and broader:

  • Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) for integration flows
  • Data Platform as a Service (DPaaS) for data management
  • Mobile  Back-end as a Service (MBaaS or simply BaaS)
  • Functions as a service (FaaS) such as AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, Google Cloud Functions, and IBM OpenWhisk
  • IDentity as a Service (IDaaS) for user authentication, e.g., Okta
  • Business Process as a Service (BPaaS), a form of business process outsourcing (BPO)
  • and, ultimately, Everything as a Service (EaaS or XaaS)


For further reading:

  1. Infoworld’s What is cloud computing? Everything you need to know now – July 10, 2017
  2. NIST Special Publication 800-145 The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing – September 2011

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