New and seasoned business owners of technology companies are often consumed with building the best and brightest cloud applications. So much so that the process and go-to-market (GTM) strategy can be rushed, resulting in applications being built with the more familiar Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering vs. exploring all the cloud-native services (PaaS) that are available in public cloud. This can often be attributed to a large skills and/or education gap when it comes to fully leveraging cloud services.

Our goal is to help you understand the difference between IaaS, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), the security behind both and why it’s important to take the time up front to invest in cloud knowledge to strengthen your competitive advantage and protect your application.

Don’t Always Believe Everything You Hear

Surprisingly, there is still an unfounded fear across businesses due to the lack of understanding of the advantages public cloud provides as well as its depth of security. Public cloud offers scalability, ease of information sharing, accelerated go-to-market… and is the fastest-growing infrastructure environment. Companies of tomorrow are investing their efforts in the cloud today.

On the flip side, those who are ready to migrate often place too much trust in the cloud provider, believing they manage everything, including all the necessary security controls. While providers do administer security protocols to protect their cloud, they do not provide security for the data, applications, etc. within the cloud environment. This is an important distinction and cannot be overlooked.

Although you’re offloading a decent share of your workload to the provider, there remains the shared responsibility aspect which is markedly different between IaaS and cloud-native PaaS. Back to the education gap, it is critical that a company investigates the different levels of shared responsibility to understand and evaluate the cloud services they should leverage. Blindly assuming the provider is taking responsibility for the security of your environment is never a smart approach.

Let’s Break It Down

According to Gartner, from 2018 to 2020, IaaS is expected to grow 57 percent, and PaaS nearly 40 percent. To create the best applications, developers need to understand the differences between IaaS and PaaS and how to leverage the cloud in the most optimal way to benefit clients and their bottom-line. Simply put:

IaaS:

  • Customers offload the infrastructure responsibilities to the cloud provider, but still manage their customer data, applications, network configurations, etc.
  • Provider responsibility is limited to areas such as physical data centers, compute, storage and networking.

PaaS:

  • Provider assumes more responsibility including the infrastructure, operating system, application management and network configuration.
  • Customers are responsible for their data and logical access to the environment.

While one is not necessarily better than the other, it’s beneficial for developers and business owners to explore and fully understand both options prior to building out the application. The major public cloud providers are very transparent about their responsibilities if you take the time to do the research. Given the operational efficiencies, if you’re planning to leverage a cloud provider and not using their native services, it’s like getting into a Ferrari and only driving 20 mph. You’re not using it to its full advantage.

Building Your Competitive Advantage

These pieces need to fit into a comprehensive plan to suit your business needs today and, in the future,, as changes happen so rapidly in both technology and cloud.

No one size fits all, and there are pros and cons to both offerings; however, knowing the ins and outs of both IaaS and PaaS gives you the upper hand. Regardless of which option works best for your environment, security within both the application and cloud are essential. Without understanding your responsibilities as a customer, it is impossible to have a solid security posture to protect your business.

It’s easy to be complacent and build apps with a legacy mindset. You must be in tune with what the future looks like and learn all the technologies available, even if you’re not leveraging them right away.

Don’t just think about IaaS. Think about the future. Think about cloud.