Like all paradigm shifts in technology, migration to the cloud is a decision not taken lightly, but also not too long delayed. If you choose the right services, switching to cloud-based utilities will begin to pay off immediately and continue to do so. Yes, it’s a costly shift, but it’s a one-time thing with vast potential for benefits down the road.
One of the biggest dilemmas encountered by newcomers to the cloud is needing to make the decision between two major variants with similar-sounding names: IaaS and PaaS, short for Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service.
Let’s pit them against each other in a IaaS vs. PaaS face-off to learn the differences in order to make an informed decision after weighing each system’s advantages and disadvantages.
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Infrastructure as a Service
Think of IaaS as having a gardener: you pay him to come and take care of your yard, so basically, you have a subscription to his services. As the needs of your yard change with the seasons, he is able to adjust his services to match (though sometimes for a price).
IaaS is a bit like that; you pay a monthly fee and the company provides you with a service that matches your needs.
Upgrades are done by the company in their server farm, so you don’t have to deal with them at all, just like you don’t need to pay for repairs to your gardener’s lawnmower. However, your company will still need a competent IT department, as you are responsible for the software you use and the maintenance thereof.
IaaS also has a benefit if you experience a sudden spike in popularity. With IaaS, it’s easy to scale up as your needs change, simply by upgrading your package. Lately, IaaS also is able to offer some of the benefits traditionally associated with a PaaS system, which we’ll get into more detail about below.
Platform as a Service
In contrast to IaaS, PaaS uses software to emulate the infrastructure, which makes it more useful to long-distance collaboration and software engineering. Developers don’t need to bother with maintenance of anything, because all of it is taken care of within the emulated environment. Any damage accidentally done to your system is easily reversible using versioned backups, enhancing stability.
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There’s some fine print, though: in the same way that, in the 1990s, if you bought a Macintosh computer you were committing to using only Mac products and playing only Mac games, using a PaaS system means you’re committed to cooperating with the requirements of your host, including their preferred software and coding languages. This is called vendor lock-in.
What should you do?
In the same way that you shouldn’t have to become a gardener to have a nice garden, you shouldn’t have to become a server technician just to have a website. For this reason, as well as the aforementioned scalability benefits, IaaS is the way to go for most companies. Unless you’re deep in software development and require long distance collaboration on a regular basis, IaaS should provide the services you need at an acceptable level of complication and maintenance.