February 17, 2020

The acronym game: IaaS, SaaS and PaaS

Luis Ouriach
Lead Designer

The tech industry moves fast, with business careering at such a pace that it’s difficult to keep up with terminology and acronyms. Here’s our quick guide to the differences between the three most popular tech-led services: IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), and PaaS (Platform as a Service).

Large infrastructure systems (IaaS) allow businesses to outsource the management of their tech without the huge investments required in maintenance, uptime and global distribution. Companies like Google and Amazon are set up to provide low cost, reliable technical infrastructure that scales with business requirements. This allows budgeting and growth to be managed more reliably at a central level.

If I relate this to travel as a core sector or ‘service’ that we work with, the IaaS model equivalent would be the self-guided trip; where staples like transport, luggage transfer and accommodation are managed by others, but you still control your ticket booking and itinerary, sightseeing etc – to afford basic support but also enable individual control.

SaaS has been de riguer since the ’60s, with IBM and other megabrands offering centralised software solutions for businesses, allowing them to focus on their own profitability and operations, with the tech managed by a trusted platform. The main benefit of this approach is that with regular updates and dedicated product teams working full time on the applications, businesses can reap the benefits of an enterprise product, without the costs of hiring a team.

Within travel, the SaaS version would be the all-inclusive holiday; you’re responsible for very little, with everything managed by the provider - meals, drinks, activities etc. This is good for those who want a more ‘all in one’ service, but users are reliant on the provider for the quality of that service or experience.


Platforms help businesses leverage third-party tech to enhance their own distribution and revenue while driving positive brand association

The newest player in the acronym game is PaaS, or platform as a service, which has boomed over the past 15 or so years.  As mobile and web app development practices merge, an opportunity has risen for companies to offer complex infrastructure and privacy solutions to businesses that wouldn’t be able to build it in house.  

Our app is built for the so-called platform economy, providing our clients and partners with a 'first' in terms of digital distribution and additional revenue, through our closed marketplace of buyers for exclusively discounted flight and hotel upgrades. In this environment, we enhance the products and services of our clients and partners, as well as the specifics of leisure trips (in the form of upgraded travel) for our users.

As 5G networks begin to roll out, IaaS and PaaS providers will thrive as more businesses capitalise on the faster data speeds available. Security and scaleability will be paramount for consumers as more and more platforms thrive, creating a clear market opportunity for these businesses to take ownership.

What if a business wants to build all of their infrastructure and software in house? This is called on-premise. We can also think of Google and Amazon as also being on-premise businesses, as they self-serve from top to bottom. This type of approach to digital business growth is akin to the independent travel service example – as it can be expensive and time consuming to create, but having your entire operation centralised allows for a more rigid management of customer data and release cycles.  

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