Types of cloud service


Date: 6 September 2023

A hand selecting cloud services.

Cloud services are on-demand infrastructure, platform, application, storage, and software resources. They are delivered directly over the internet by third-party providers. Users of these services only require a computer and a network connection to access them, unlike traditional services where you need to own and manage many physical devices.

Cloud computing is an important part of today's business systems. It helps in efficiently operating the business infrastructure and upscaling the resources quickly during business expansion. Additionally, it is useful in preserving your business data through backup resources.

Some of the key advantages of cloud services include faster time to market, disaster recovery, scalability, flexibility, savings in infrastructural costs, better collaboration with distributed team members, and advanced security for both your data and applications.

Types of cloud services

Increasing numbers of businesses are adopting cloud infrastructures to save upfront and maintenance costs of physical servers. Cloud providers offer numerous services to fit the needs of all users. However, they broadly fall into three main types: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service.

In addition, there are three major cloud computing environments for deploying the above services: the public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud.

Let's look at the features and benefits of all these cloud services in detail below:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service is useful for those business owners who cannot afford to maintain on-premises data centres. Let's find out what this cloud service is all about:

Definition of IaaS

IaaS is a cloud computing service in which the service provider supplies on-demand computing resources. As the name suggests, under IaaS the service provider delivers all the infrastructure needed for your business. It provides you with servers, networking, storage, and virtualisation. The provider owns, operates, and manages all the infrastructure.

IaaS doesn't include any software like operating systems, applications, or middleware. So you will have to separately purchase and manage all the software that you need for running your business.

Characteristics and features

IaaS is considered the foundation layer of cloud computing models. It is used as the base of most applications. It comes with the following unique features:

  • IaaS can be called a resources-as-a-service model. It comes with all the computing and storage equipment resources.
  • The third-party provider takes care of all your administrative tasks automatically, including server maintenance and regular infrastructure updates.
  • IaaS is an on-demand solution where the user is billed on a pay-as-you-go basis. So it is a cost-efficient option for beginners or small business enterprises.
  • These services are easily scalable since the service provider maintains large volumes of storage and servers in their data centres. You can quickly access additional resources whenever needed.

Use cases and benefits

Many professionals and IT organisations use the IaaS model in the following cases:

  • Software development and testing over the IaaS cloud when launching a new product. Developers can quickly deploy and dismantle different test environments with the required characteristics.
  • Data mining and analysis process that involves massive computing power. IaaS makes it easy to analyse huge volumes of data by offering budget-friendly on-demand computing resources.
  • Web-based app deployment with peak traffic periods and growth capabilities. Developers use IaaS to host web-based applications. They can scale up quickly with IaaS resources during peak periods.

Here are the major benefits the IaaS model offers:

  • It helps in reducing the upfront cost of purchasing IT infrastructure.
  • It saves hiring expenses and labour costs related to hardware experts.
  • IaaS offers great redundancy over on-premises IT infrastructure. It ensures server availability and business continuity at all times.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service is useful for those organisations who cannot afford to purchase and maintain on-premises hardware and software resources. Let's find out what PaaS is all about:

Definition of PaaS

PaaS is a cloud computing service in which the service provider supplies both hardware and software resources. As the name suggests, the service provider delivers you the platform your business needs including the servers, networking, storage, virtualisation, development tools, middleware, runtime, and operating system. The provider owns, operates, and manages all the infrastructure and software tools.

PaaS doesn't include any application or data that will run on the provided platform. So you will have to separately purchase, install, and manage all the applications that you need for running your business.

Characteristics and features

PaaS can be considered a step above the IaaS model. It offers the following unique features:

  • PaaS includes all the computing, software, and storage equipment resources.
  • The cloud service provider handles all the administrative tasks on your behalf. It includes infrastructure updates, server maintenance, and software updates.
  • PaaS is an on-demand cloud solution where the user only leases the resources. This makes PaaS a cost-efficient option for beginners and small organisations.
  • It is possible to quickly scale your resources up or down under the PaaS model. The third-party provider maintains large volumes of hardware and software resources in their data centres which they can quickly assign you.

Use cases and benefits

The most common use cases of PaaS are:

  • Application development using computing infrastructure and resources provided by PaaS. Developers can create, test, deploy, manage, and perform updates to their apps using the PaaS model.
  • IT organisations and developers use PaaS resources to develop and store microservices.
  • Businesses with geographically distributed teams utilise PaaS to collaborate and work on the same application.

The major benefits of the PaaS model are:

  • Organisations do not need to invest in purchasing hardware and software resources. PaaS also saves infrastructure installation and maintenance costs.
  • PaaS allows quick deployment of all the resources you need, thereby helping you launch your software faster in the market.
  • Since you receive both hardware and software resources over the cloud, your employees can access the same development environment from different locations.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service is useful for those businesses who do not want to purchase and install physical copies of applications on their local servers. Let's find out what SaaS is all about:

Definition of SaaS

IaaS is a cloud computing service in which the service provider supplies a full application stack to the user. As the name suggests, the service provider delivers the software under the Software as a Service model. You will get access to the servers, networking, storage, virtualisation, development tools, middleware, runtime, operating system, data, and applications. The provider owns, operates, and manages all the infrastructure, software, and applications.

SaaS includes everything you need to develop, test, deliver, and manage your cloud applications. So it is a ready-to-use solution for your business that helps you get started quickly without any upfront hardware or software costs.

Characteristics and features

SaaS is an all-encompassing cloud service model with the following unique features:

  • It includes all the computing, software, storage equipment, middleware, and application resources.
  • The SaaS provider manages all the administrative tasks regularly for the upkeep of resources allotted to you.
  • SaaS is an on-demand solution where you will only be leasing the resources from the vendor. So it is a cost-efficient solution for business and IT professionals.
  • The SaaS model makes it easy to scale your resources quickly whenever required.

Use cases and benefits

Developers use SaaS in many industries today:

  • SaaS allows the creation of a complex Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution like SalesForce.
  • You can develop a video conferencing platform like Zoom with the help of SaaS resources.
  • Professionals create video streaming websites like Vimeo with SaaS products.

SaaS offers the following benefits:

  • The SaaS model helps in minimising the upfront IT cost of organisations.
  • It leads to savings in labour costs concerning the maintenance of servers and other infrastructure.
  • SaaS provides you with excellent scalability by allowing quick provisioning of additional resources.

Public cloud services

Public clouds are the shared cloud environments available for organisations. All the infrastructure, software, and other computing tools are used by multiple businesses. Let's take an overview of public cloud services here:

Overview of public cloud

Public clouds provide you with the infrastructure, network, and storage resources over the internet. These are owned and managed by third-party providers. You will also receive applications and suitable environments to develop and deploy them as part of this service.

Key providers and their offerings

Below we list some of the key public cloud service providers along with some of their offerings:

  • Google Cloud: Google Compute Engine (GCE), Cloud Storage buckets, Zonal persistent disk, Regional persistent disk, and Filestore.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and Amazon Elastic File System (EFS).
  • Microsoft Azure: Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Managed Disks, Azure Blob Storage, and Azure Files.

Advantages and considerations for using public cloud

Some of the advantages of using the public cloud are:

  • Lower IT costs since you do not have to purchase any hardware or software.
  • No server maintenance cost as the vendor takes care of that.
  • High resource availability due to the presence of a vast server network.
  • Exceptional scalability capacity with the availability of massive on-demand resources.

However, there are some considerations when using public cloud services:

  • Security is one of the major concerns for businesses using shared infrastructure and resources in the public cloud.
  • The public cloud is not flexible enough to allow customisation of the cloud environment based on your business needs.
  • You must keep an eye on your monthly expenses if the vendor has a "pay-as-you-go" model rather than a fixed monthly amount.

Private cloud services

All the infrastructure and services in a private cloud are maintained on a private network. Let's look at private cloud services here:

Overview of private cloud

Private cloud services include the same resources that you get with public clouds. But these clouds are created and managed by a single organisation, typically the one that uses its resources. However, a third-party service provider can also host a private cloud for an organisation.

Private cloud services are usually available on-premises and involve as much investment as a traditional IT environment. At the same time, it offers greater control, data security, and customisation possibilities.

Key benefits and use cases

Here are the key benefits of using private cloud services:

  • Private cloud services are highly customisable according to your business needs.
  • It is possible to create a fully secure cloud environment using private cloud services.
  • Private clouds offer greater scalability in contrast to on-premises data centres with physical infrastructure.

Since private cloud services are more secure, these are popular in governmental, scientific, and defence sectors. However, businesses can use them to:

  • Protect customer information or other sensitive data.
  • Develop mission-critical apps that require high resource availability.
  • Comply with data sovereignty or other legal requirements.
  • Create and support legacy apps or other internally developed apps.

Challenges and considerations when implementing private cloud

Though private clouds offer many benefits, there are some challenges when implementing them:

  • They involve higher initial capital expenditure when compared to public clouds.
  • Resource scalability is limited to the total amount of resources available in the private cloud which can run out since it is created for a single organisation.
  • Maintaining a private cloud requires continuous monitoring which adds to the workload of your IT staff.

Hybrid cloud services

Hybrid cloud services are for those organisations that are not fully satisfied with public or private cloud services. Let's find out what a hybrid cloud is:

Definition of hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud mixes a private cloud environment with that of a public cloud environment. It helps you utilise the benefits of both these cloud service environments by leveraging their resources. A hybrid cloud environment is considered a multi-cloud environment when it utilises the resources of multiple public cloud service providers.

Benefits and use cases

Here are the key benefits of using hybrid cloud services:

  • Organisations can better optimise cloud performance by running different workloads in different environments.
  • Hybrid cloud services provide you with greater flexibility to select the cloud solution that fits well with your needs.
  • These services help in reducing the risk of vendor lock-in.
  • Businesses can have good control over their infrastructure as available in a private cloud plus scalability and cost-savings of the public cloud.

Since hybrid cloud services offer the benefits of both private and public clouds, businesses are increasingly adopting them for:

  • Ensuring continuity of business operations during disasters.
  • Expanding their global presence by deploying applications closer to their users.
  • Assisting in migrating their applications and all the related data to the cloud.
  • Extending on-premises infrastructure for supporting low-latency apps.
  • Cloud bursting the resources for dynamic workloads.

Challenges and best practices for hybrid cloud adoption

The major challenges involved in adopting hybrid cloud services are:

  • The overall IT environment becomes complex in terms of security and management.
  • With the sudden growth in cloud adoption, a huge gap has arisen in the demand and availability of IT professionals. Finding the right personnel for infrastructure management can be difficult.
  • The log sources are spread across the private and the public cloud, thereby making it difficult to identify them.

Here are the best practices to overcome the above challenges associated with hybrid cloud adoption:

  • Organisations must approach security aspects carefully when adopting the hybrid cloud.
  • It is best to train your existing IT staff and prepare them to handle the hybrid cloud environment when an organisation is unable to find skilled people.
  • It is essential to build metrics for monitoring all log sources. Organisations can consider utilising Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to handle executive reporting and operational-level metrics.


In this article, we learned about three types of cloud computing. Within these, we have three major cloud services. Each of these offer several benefits and shortcomings for businesses adopting them.

Cloud services are extremely important for businesses, especially small and fast-growing firms. It allows them to reduce infrastructure costs, maintain flexibility, and improve resource scalability. Additionally, organisations do not have to manage complex IT infrastructure when they adopt cloud services.

Cloud computing has a bright future offering many possibilities for businesses and hosts. The plethora of benefits, including the speed, lower costs, and flexibility provided are the reasons behind the fast growth of cloud computing and will spark its massive adoption in the future. These services won't remain the preserve of start-ups and small enterprises for long but will find a high rate of adoption among medium and large-scale businesses.

Copyright 2023. Sponsored post from Adam Hall, WebHostingAdvices.

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