IaaS vs. PaaS: Why the Debate Matters to You

Some say Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the next big thing, while others argue Platform as a Service (PaaS) is emerging as the front runner. Meanwhile, the average consumer still has no idea what either of those things are.

Widespread Impact

But for anyone who works, uses a cloud-based service, or purchases a cloud-connected device like a home alarm system, the debate matters. The cloud hosting providers that house these systems in their data centers are certainly paying attention, with the results of the debate dramatically impacting their business models.

The difference, put simply, is this. With IaaS, the vendor offers a business a place to safely store its server data and the applications it houses. With PaaS, network storage is provided, as well as a platform for developing applications. For the average consumer, this likely won’t have ramifications to their day-to-day lives, but as the industry eventually settles into its eventual structure, the breakdown of IaaS, PaaS, and Software as a Service (SaaS) will likely have an impact on cost.

PaaS Absorption

Some experts now assert that PaaS is fading quickly, with its respective parts having been absorbed by IaaS and PaaS. However, other experts argue that PaaS is an essential service, with some of its elements necessary to supporting operations.

Businesses like Amazon Web Services are blurring the line between these areas, offering services that meet businesses’ needs as part of their IaaS or SaaS offerings. For consumers, the delineation won’t matter, since many businesses will request a model that provides precisely the features they need. However, when choosing between various service providers, some consumers may find that smaller providers that specialize in IaaS or SaaS fail to offer functionality that suits their app development needs. This will enable those businesses that offer a more full-service model the ability to win business away from their competitors.

What Does Oracle Foresee in the Clouds?

In the world of IT, 35-year-old Oracle Corp. is one of the veterans. It also continues to be a big player, with $37 billion in revenues in its 2012 fiscal year.

But the company knows that if it wants to remain a big player, it needs to be big in the cloud. So, this June, the company announced Oracle Cloud, with online applications for customer relationship management, human relations and enterprise social networking. The Oracle cloud includes both platform as a service (PaaS), with online operating systems and network setups, and software as a service (SaaS), with applications and software that live on the company’s servers.

The move puts Oracle in line with longtime competitors like Microsoft, SAP and Google and also lines it up against Salesforce and other SaaS players. InfoWorld has an interesting interview with Oracle Senior VP Abhay Parasnis in which Parasnis emphasizes that the company’s cloud will offer an easy transition for large enterprises that have invested heavily in the way they work with their IT and now want to take it into the cloud.

Aside from moving its existing offerings into the cloud, Oracle has been on a buying spree lately, snapping up companies that offer various cloud services. Among its acquisitions this year are network virtualization provider Xsigo Systems, social media manager Involver, and cloud-based talent management company Taleo Corp., social marketing platform Virtue and social media and text analysis company Collective Intellect.

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts on major cloud computing players.