What’s Best for You, Platform as a Service or Infrastructure as a Service?

November 19, 2009
By djohnson

What is the difference between platform as a service and infrastructure as a service? Infrastructure as a service (for example Amazon EC2) provides on-demand computing power and storage. Platform as a service (one aspect of Microsoft Azure) provides computing power and storage plus an operating system. With PAAS, the operating system is patched and kept up to date by the cloud-services provider. With IAAS you can deploy an image that includes applications and an operating system and update the components as needed.

The lines between the two are getting more and more narrow – and in fact, the same resource provider might elect to provide both. Ray Ozzie declared that Azure was IAAS in the Microsoft PDC09 keynote.

So which is right for you?


Platform as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service
You have unique platform or operating system needs  
You have many different applications which require different environments  
You have variable usage patterns and unpredictable compute needs
You don’t want to manage operating system updates and upgrades
You want to provide “total customization” capabilities for your application

Note: Total customization means that customers can modify the source code or database structure for your application instead of limiting customizations to meta-data and configuration screens. Note that some vendors allows extensive customizations via configuration screens.

ERP Software Impact
For ERP vendors, this is very interesting because you can receive the benefits of multi-tenant efficiencies at the OS / cloud fabric layer, and receive the benefits of total customization at the application level. Of course you can still run your application as multi-tenant on top of the multi-tenant OS/fabric.

For ERP customers, this is interesting because you can benefit from the efficiencies of SaaS without losing the ability to customize. If you choose a multi-tenant vendor solution, then the vendor will be able to maximize update/upgrade efficiency. If you choose a single-tenant vendor solution, then you will be able to customize everything and still benefit from the efficiency of multi-tenant at the platform level (assuming they are using a platform as a service vendor).

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