Whenever I write about the cloud, I tend to break it down into three categories: software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS).

As I was working on a cloud performance management ebook, a coworker suggested that I also include function as a service (FaaS) and containers as a service (CaaS) in the definitions. I’ll admit, I had never heard of these categories so after these suggestions were made, I went to do some research.

SaaS was one of the first cloud solutions to hit the market. It provides the ability to consume information through a browser or API. IT teams don’t have to manage applications, hardware, security, or storage; everything is managed by the vendor. Users subscribe to a SaaS service on a recurring basis and can easily scale. The uses of SaaS include business productivity, business management, tools, and customer relationship management.

PaaS gives some control back to the customer as it enables companies to build and deploy applications upon an existing platform. IT manages the applications in a hosted environment while everything else is managed by the vendor.

IaaS is the final component and gives the most control to organizations. They can manage applications, runtimes, security and integration, and databases. Servers, storage, and networking are managed by the vendor. Categories under IaaS include cloud management, content delivery networks, virtualization, and storage and computing solutions.

Here’s what I learned

FaaS is also known as serverless computing.

Features of FaaS include:

  • Allocation of resources managed by the provider
  • Application logic is executed but it is not stored
  • Pricing based on amount of resources consumed
  • Functions are expected to start within milliseconds

CaaS delivers container engines, orchestration, and computer resources from a cloud provider. Features of CaaS include:

  • Organize, run scale, manage and stop containers via an API or web portal
  • Pricing based on resources used

As I read through many articles on these, I kept coming back to the thought that these are sub-categories of PaaS and IaaS. Instead of using an existing definition, a new buzz word is created to differentiate how a new offering is slightly different from what exists today. Wikipedia lists over 20 different ‘as a service‘ categories, and that doesn’t seem to be complete as Containers as a Service is missing from that list.

According to Gartner, cloud services are growing and will continue to grow, but they refer to the market, not the number of categories created. Growing the number of definitions will not make the markets grow faster. Creating a new ‘-aaS’ category or buzzword complicates matters. I prefer to keep things simple. When I talk about the cloud I will continue to refer to the three main categories. SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS this is in line with how analysts forecast. This doesn’t mean I’m excluding these sub-categories, I’m using a broader category for simplicity.

To learn more about cloud services and cloud performance management, download our ebook, Using Digital Experience Monitoring for Cloud Performance Management.

Author Dawn Parzych

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