Cloud services - Just Like Eating a Pizza


Struggling to get your head around the different cloud services that are offered?

As, more and more companies start to embrace cloud technology, it is vital that business analysts are able to identify the cloud service that is required to meet business requirements. As business analysts, we are often criticized for not getting involved in the technical side of things. However, it can be difficult to make decisions on technical side of things, if you don’t understand the language that is used in this space.

A while, back I was struggling to differentiate between the three popular services that are offered by cloud providers. I was very lucky to be working with a technical architect whom took the time out to explain the differences between the services. However, not all business analysts get the opportunity to work with technical architects. To help, those business analysts I have written a blog to explain the key differences between the cloud services.

So, before we go go any further, lets first discuss what the acronyms stand for:

  • SaaS– Software as a Service
  • PaaS– Platform as a Service
  • IaaS– Infrastructure as a Service

So, what are these services- the best way it was explained to me was to imagine that you and your family want pizza for dinner. There are many options that are open to you i.e. do you want takeaway pizza or do you want to go a restaurant. In my analogy, I will you use the following:

  • You – business analyst
  • Family – organisation
  • Pizza- cloud technology
  • Kitchen- infrastructure
  • Oven- platform

SaaS – Software as a Service

In this scenario imagine the family wants eat pizza but they want to use their own oven to heat the pizza and they want to use their own kitchen to serve the pizza in. This, is an equivalent to you going to a supermarket and purchasing a frozen pizza.
Software as a Service is a similar concept; the business will purchase access to a software instead of buying software upfront. One, of the best example to use here is Office 365- so, instead of  the company purchasing  X number of licences outright, for the number of users that it thinks will need access the software. In, this scenario the business would have also been restricted to when and where they can access the software. In the new model, they will purchase as and when a new licence is needed. The user is able to access the software anywhere they want to, so they are no longer restricted to when and where they can access the software.


  • No expensive upfront coststhe business will only start paying when the users need access to the software
  • Flexible payments - under this service the company use pay as you go model in order to access the software=
  • Updates – instead of purchasing new software, companies will get access to the most up to date software, as companies behind this service model will provide updates as and when they become available
  • Access – users can access the software where ever and whenever they want to=
  • Scalable - it is easy to scale

Common examples of products under this service are: Google Apps, Salesforce, Dropbox and Slack

PaaS- Platform as a Service

In this scenario image, the family wants to order a takeaway pizza. The family wants to use their own cutlery, napkins and serve the pizza in their own kitchen.

Under Platform as a Service,  the business will buy access to both environment and platform from a third party supplier. PaaS is primarily designed with developer as being the main users of the service. In the past, you would have had the business purchase servers, storage and network up front to help develop and deliver applications. PaaS recreate this environment, giving the business access to the same infrastructure as before.

Same as SaaS, users will access PaSS products via web browser.


  • Flexible: business can buy access to the features that they want and need. The cost is also flexible, as the business pays for what it uses rather than an upfront cost
  • Remote location: staff working in remote location can work together on the same application build
  • Access to the best technology: users will get access to the best technology, which would be very hard for them to replicate if they were doing it in house
  • Deliver faster: by focusing on just building their applications, developers will not get bogged down with other issues

Common examples of products under this service: Heruko, Engine Yard and red hat

IaaS- Infrastructure as a Service

In this scenario imagine the family wants to go to a restaurant to eat pizza. They do not want to host anyone, they don’t want to use their own environment to eat the pizza.

Infrastructure as a Service if often referenced as being the foundation of cloud technology. In, the past businesses would have to pay a lot of money to either purchase or lease space in data warehouses. By having data warehouses they would have to pay for Labour cost to make sure that someone ins maintaining the data warehouse. Under IaaS model, businesses can rent space in virtual data centres including virtual servers and storage. Under this service, business will use their platform and applications within the third party’s infrastructure.


  • Upkeep: business will no longer be responsible for the upkeep, as the third party supplier will take responsibility for providing maintenance
  • Cost: instead of paying for expensive data warehouses, business will pay for storage as and when they need it.
  • Scalable: By paying for only what you need and using the infrastructure of the service provider, business can easily scale up or down when they need to
  • Start straight away: business no longer need to have spend time setting up date warehouses before they can start working on getting their environment up and running

Common examples of products under this service: Amazon Web Services, Window Azure and Google Compute Engine

I will release a blog shortly that will go into details to how you can decide which service model to go for.

Author: Rohela Rouf, Business Analyst

If you have any questions, feedback- let me know  via twitter-

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