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IaaS vs. PaaS vs. MBaaS vs. DBaaS: What's the Difference?

August 31, 2016

Understanding cloud services and their relation to your needs can be a hassle. Many service providers offer a range of products to deploy information to the cloud, but each of those tools should fall into one specific category.

 Each type of product serves a different purpose and provides different tools to utilize the cloud such as development platforms or remote storage. For new businesses looking for cloud services, it's easy to see how professionals could be confused between developer jargon such as IaaS vs. PaaS. These cloud solutions are not cheap and take time to implement, so businesses shouldn't take their lack of knowledge lightly.

That's okay though, G2 is here for you! If you don’t know the difference between all of the acronyms ending with “aaS”, listen up.

IaaS vs. PaaS

IaaS, or infrastructure as a service, is a cloud computing model that outsources IT infrastructure through virtual hardware. Infrastructure can consist of a variety of tools such as virtualized servers, storage and bandwidth. IaaS sits at the bottom of a business's stack and allows companies to build, purchase or deploy their PaaS on top of it.

IaaS solutions are often ideal for smaller businesses hoping to avoid the burdens of in-house hardware (like those with virtual desktop infrastructure use cases), which can be costly while requiring heavy maintenance. Instead, hardware is distributed through multiple data centers and managed by IaaS providers. This model is also perfect for growth companies, as these businesses can purchase extra infrastructure in the pay as you go model as needed.

On the other hand PaaS, or platform as a service, tools supply a highly scalable platform on which applications are powered. PaaS solutions provide the back-end tools for managing web applications. Hosted tools delivered through the web provide users with the tools to develop, run and manage web applications. A company's PaaS sits on top of their IaaS. Companies then release their service, software or application on top of this PaaS tool.

Related: Because everyone likes saving money, check out these four free PaaS tools for developers!

These services often include tools such as databases, web servers, operating systems and storage. Their hosted nature also allows for teams to access the platform remotely and simultaneously.

Popular IaaS providers include: Amazon S3 and DigitalOcean.

One AWS S3 review said of their IaaS provider, "It's virtually unlimited, gives you 99.999999999% durability and very high accessibility and if configured correctly could be cheap as chips. Great CLI and API. It's mature and super reliable solution with a lot of additional features like: static web hosting, versioning, lifecycle policies and storage classes (which allow you to lower the price even more). It's deeply integrated with a lot of other AWS solutions giving you wide range of usage schemas: from storing logs to website hosting and backups."

Popular PaaS tools include: Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure.

One AWS EC2 review said of their PaaS provider service, "AWS EC2 is the most generic and portable way to host your own web applications. I like that, by working directly with individual linux boxes, I don't have to worry about being tied to a particular cloud provider (not that AWS has given me any reason to switch!) Plus, there's nothing you can't run on an EC2 instance"


MBaaS, or mobile backend as a service, solutions are essentially PaaS solutions focused on managing mobile applications, rather than traditional web applications. These products provide computing architecture to connect mobile application to cloud storage and APIs.

MBaaS solutions save development teams the lengthy process of constructing their own back-end infrastructure. MBaaS platforms provide users with tools to manage their files, host server code, connect reusable APIs, manage backend data and secure communication between endpoint users and servers.

Popular MBaaS providers include: Salesforce's Heroku and Parse.

One Heroku review said of the MBaaS plaform, "Heroku Toolbelt makes deployment and maintenance tasks so easy - everything is just a command line away. Almost never a gem compatibility problem, it's a complete plug-and-play. Hobby tier provides sufficient availability for my purposes. Documentation works great for my needs, and it's supplemented by a healthy user community - I can find answers to most of my questions by just googling them"


This one is a bit different from the others. DBaaS, or cloud database as a service, are simply cloud-based platforms for managing and storing data. They typically provide scalable solutions for managing and retrieving large amounts of secured data.

DBaaS tools provide similar functionality to that of relational database management systems, but store data in the cloud and provide access without launching virtual machines.

Popular DBaaS tools include: Amazon RDS and Microsoft's Azure DocumentDB.

One Amazon RDS review said of the DBaaS tool, "Whatever your database of choice, you'll find that RDS will make the hosting and management pain disappear. Out of the box you get a managed platform where all you need to think about is how much storage you'll need and the performance you want. Amazon take care of maintaining the system, keeping it up to date by installing updates, providing multi-AZ redundancy and increased protection against downtime doe to more care being taken when taking down an instance in the cluster."

The bulk of these tools function on pay-as-you-go models, giving smaller and growth companies the ability to scale as they grow without breaking the bank up front.

Find the highest rated tools and an abundance of information on these services on G2 Crowd. Visit any of our IaaS, PaaS, MBaaS, DBaaS and other IT infrastructure categories to find the right software for your team.

IaaS vs. PaaS vs. MBaaS vs. DBaaS: What's the Difference? IaaS vs PaaS. MBaaS vs. DBaaS. What are with all of these abbreviated terms and what do they mean to developers? Learn more on G2.
Aaron Walker Aaron has been researching security, cloud, and emerging technologies with G2 for more than half a decade. Over that time he's outlined, defined, and maintained a large portion of G2's taxonomy related to cybersecurity, infrastructure, development, and IT management markets. Aaron utilizes his relationships with vendors, subject-matter expertise, and familiarity with G2 data to help buyers and businesses better understand emerging challenges, solutions, and technologies. In his free time, Aaron enjoys photography, design, Chicago sports and lizards.

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