The past decade has seen a dramatic rise in As-A-Service cloud technology offerings designed to reduce upfront IT costs for organizations, offer more business flexibility, and provide easy access to innovative business technology. Microsoft Azure’s suite of products gives organizations the ability to choose different services to scale and adapt to their business needs. Customers pay a subscription each month to gain access to Azure services, including Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) product models.
Is Azure IaaS or PaaS or SaaS?
Microsoft Azure is not just one cloud platform. It consists of three core product models designed to handle different responsibilities for business and IT users. Let’s explore some of the key differences among Microsoft Azure IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS platforms.
Some of the most significant costs incurred by many IT organizations come from maintaining on-site centers. Azure’s IaaS technology lets organizations mitigate those expenses by maintaining virtual cloud servers, called Azure Virtual Machines (Azure VMs), to deploy and maintain business applications and related components. Organizations pay a monthly fee for customized plans that include Azure IaaS products necessary to support business goals, including:
- Computing — Perform functions like setting up Linux or Azure VMs to your specifications, developing microservices, running containers, and creating scalable cloud applications and APIs.
- Storage — Get scalable, secure storage for VMs and important data like message communications, cloud file shares, unstructured data, and archived information.
- Networking — Use Azure IaaS network products to optimize traffic performance and handle heavy workloads.
- Security — Gain access to enterprise-level security that offers benefits like centralizing monitoring of network threats, securing cryptographic keys, and securing documents and sensitive data.
Azure PaaS provides organizations with the infrastructure needed to maintain a development and deployment environment using the cloud. IT users gain access to all necessary infrastructure, including development tools, databases, middleware, and business intelligence (BI). They get everything needed to support the entire web app development lifecycle.
One of the biggest benefits of Azure PaaS is that it reduces development time for new software. Azure PaaS comes with components like a preconfigured database, search services, Workflow, and an operating system. Developers can get right to work without having to spend a lot of time on setup.
Another feature of Azure PaaS is Azure Websites. While developers have less control over configuration internals, Azure Websites makes deployment of simple web applications that do not require a lot of complexity much less of a hassle. Developers can use their IDE to deploy Azure Websites or configure popular source control tools like Git or TFS for that purpose.
Azure’s SaaS services give users the ability to use the internet to access cloud-based applications. Anyone who’s worked with Microsoft 365 has experience working with a SaaS product. Azure SaaS allows organizations to provide users with access to business applications without purchasing individual licenses, installing the software, performing updates, or providing maintenance.
Another advantage of Azure SaaS is that companies can scale up or down depending on their projected business needs. It’s also possible for organizations to create Azure Websites built around customized SaaS products.
Which Azure As-A-Service Product Is the Right Choice?
The answer to the question on which Microsoft Azure product is the right choice depends on an organization's needs. Let’s look at some of the main reasons a company may decide to go with Microsoft IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS.
Azure IaaS can benefit companies looking for a way to:
- Remove the need to manage physical IT infrastructure
- Quickly scale and customize necessary IT components
- Integrate cloud technology with other business systems
- Make it easier to set up test and development environments
- Maintain high availability during a disaster
Azure PaaS can be a good choice for organizations whose requirements include:
- Reducing development time for new products
- Expanding the capabilities of their development team while reducing the need to hire additional staff
- Integrating sophisticated development software, analytics tools, and business intelligence without needing to purchase them directly
- Having one environment for all functions necessary to support the web application lifecycle
Azure SaaS makes it possible for businesses to:
- Access sophisticated business software without needing to purchase the products or maintain the supporting infrastructure
- Allow users to access business applications from a browser instead of having to download and install the software
- Make it possible for the workforce to access SaaS applications and information from any device capable of connecting to the internet
How Can Organizations Use Microsoft Azure?
Many organizations rely on more than one Microsoft Azure solution to accomplish business goals. Organizations looking to perform functions like migrating their current workload to the cloud, supporting a hybrid cloud environment, or moving existing software licenses to the cloud may wish to subscribe to an Azure IaaS model.
The Azure PaaS model can be helpful to companies looking to help their developers build new cloud-native apps. It’s also suitable for DevOps teams wanting to maintain control over the services and applications running on company networks. Azure PaaS is also good for businesses interested in coming up with customized internal business applications to support company needs.
Smaller organizations with fewer IT staff can still provide users with access to reliable, sophisticated business applications with an Azure SaaS subscription. There’s no need to maintain the infrastructure necessary to give business users access to the software required to perform essential business functions.
What Else Should Organizations Know About Microsoft Azure?
Choosing Microsoft Azure for their cloud needs does not lock an organization into supporting only Windows-based products and services. Companies are free to allow developers to work with open-source products for development purposes. Microsoft Azure solutions can address a wide array of industry-specific business issues.
Internet eBusiness Solutions (IES) can assist organizations who need help deciding upon the right Microsoft Azure package. Learn more about the benefits of each Microsoft Azure model and which one might work best for your company by setting up a consultation with IES.