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Azure IaaS vs PaaS: What's the Difference?

Microsoft offers a large suite of tools to allow businesses the flexibility to improve their workflows and put effort into their products and clients. The Microsoft Azure platform is an essential part of their offering. All applications and services are run on the Azure cloud. The many choices within the Microsoft Azure space mean there are plenty of opportunities to explore and customize your experience. There is no better place to build your own systems and processes for your business.

One of the many choices that could essentially define your foundation in the Azure cloud, is to decide between Azure IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service). Need help figuring out which one will work better? This guide will cover what these services are and how they differ. We will also go over the benefits and disadvantages so you won't have to do any further research to figure out the right service for you.

Infrastructure as a Service

What is Azure IaaS?

Azure IaaS is Microsoft's "Infrastructure as a Service." It is also known as cloud infrastructure services. When it comes to computing, infrastructure refers to any of the back-end parts of computer systems that are required to run; this includes datacenters, networks, and storage. Companies that maintain on-premise IT departments store and track this computing infrastructure in-house.

However, computing infrastructure takes up a vast amount of physical space, maintenance, and energy consumption. It can also be expensive as a company requires more computing power over time or needs to upgrade. The latter could result in possible inconsistencies due to lack of available support or delays in manufacturing, leading to a longer and larger investment just to bring the system up to date!

IaaS takes away the burden of physical space and buying hardware outright. Instead, businesses can scale on-demand and buy resources as needed or even downsize when required. It is a self-service option for maintaining storage, networking, computers, and more. Buying resources through Azure essentially means Microsoft will handle your data center. This responsibility includes security, firewalls, storage, servers, networking, and recovery.

Examples of Azure IaaS

There are many different instances of Microsoft Azure IaaS to consider. Some common examples are Public IP addresses and Load Balancers.

Public IP addresses are the channels of communication. They connect Azure resources, public-facing Azure services, and internet resources. These have settings that allow your Azure resource to connect with other Azure services through a stable IP address for the Internet. Your Azure resource does not have to have a public IP address but it will need one for inbound communications.

Azure Load Balancers help your Azure resource handle incoming traffic. They spread out the load of traffic across various designated virtual machines (VMs). In turn, your Azure resource will maintain high availability and won't crash from the pressure of a surge in traffic.

Platform as a Service

What is Azure PaaS?

Azure PaaS is Microsoft's "Platform as a Service." It is otherwise known as cloud platform services. While IaaS offers the computing infrastructure businesses need, PaaS provides the platform upon which businesses can build their own applications.

In other words, businesses can create an application without the added costs and concerns of operating systems, storage, and more. Much like IaaS, Microsoft also takes care of the maintenance of the infrastructure, such as storage and networking. The biggest difference is that users will have access to platform building. PaaS provides a Cloud-based framework where developers can create and publish custom applications.

Examples of Azure PaaS

Many examples of Azure PaaS are helpful in creating customized applications. Microsoft Azure Web App and the Microsoft Azure Mobile App are just a few popular examples of how useful this option can be.

Microsoft Azure Web App provides a cloud platform where you can build and run web applications. This service is for everything from customer-facing applications to back-end services, or both!

Microsoft Azure Mobile App provides a cloud platform just like Web App but for mobile applications. This service is a powerful tool for creating applications that can function across all other platforms. Your apps can function on any of the various operating systems such as iOS or Android.

Azure IaaS vs PaaS

Overall, any of the "as a service" options will lowers costs while providing flexibility and stability. Outsourcing these services to Azure means that your company can focus on operations with a more reliable budget and anticipating the ever-changing needs of customers. You'll also have a back-end that is ready for any amount of growth and customization you'll require as you learn and grow because we all know technology is constantly evolving.
When choosing a service, you should consider the benefit and disadvantages of each.

Benefits of Azure IaaS

Choosing Azure IaaS means you'll have all the benefits of an "as a service" provider. In addition, IaaS has several benefits, including:

  • Maintaining control over a computing infrastructure
  • Storage, servers, networking, and power can all be automated
  • Purchases of hardware based only on need
  • An extremely flexible computing model on the cloud

As a result, IaaS is a great choice for small companies and startups. There is no need to invest initial resources in purchasing hardware and creating software. Larger companies and those with rapid growth can also enjoy IaaS. It will allow them to scale easily and quickly while retaining control.

Disadvantages of Azure IaaS

Some concerns about IaaS include relinquishing full control over the security of your data and infrastructure to Microsoft and your VMs. There are also concerns with legacy systems operating within the cloud, as migrating them over with Azure data migration can open up new security and performance issues.

Finally, as only infrastructure management is given to Microsoft, the business will still need to provide additional training and resources to in-house teams to take charge of responsibilities like data security and business continuity.

Benefits of Azure PaaS

On the other hand, Azure PaaS has several benefits for all types of companies in addition to "as a service" offerings in general. Along with the ease of platform building sourced to the cloud, your business can enjoy:

  • Automating your business policy
  • High availability and scalability of tools
  • Cost-effective building and deployment of applications
  • Much less need for coding
  • No need to worry about maintaining software

Any company that wants to rapidly develop applications with a smaller budget and fewer resources must strongly consider Azure PaaS. It can streamline the workflows throughout several developers and speed up the process without the insecurity of investing a lot of money when building from scratch.

Disadvantages of Azure PaaS

As with all cloud services, PaaS has a few disadvantages. For example, using PaaS can cause some data security concerns, as it means giving up control over monitoring and securing infrastructure and sensitive data. You'll also experience vendor lock-in because your applications will be built on Azure and thus unable to move effectively off the platform.

Compatibility is also a concern, as not every part of a legacy IT system is or was made for the cloud, causing possible integration issues. You might also consider that not all languages or frameworks you choose are completely compatible with PaaS solutions and end-users may not be able to use the applications exactly how they want to due to operational limitations.

The Decision is Yours

The choice to build your applications on Microsoft Azure PaaS or IaaS will free up space, time, and money for your business. All that matters how these benefits can compliment your business so you can thrive. While this guide covered the basics of Azure IaaS vs PaaS, putting your plans into action can be a whole different story.
CSW Solutions is a Gold-Certified Microsoft Partner and Azure Cloud-Solutions Provider who can help you turn your vision into a reality. Partner with us today to get your migration to Azure started with your business's application plans and take off in the cloud!

Yoel Sommer

About the author

Yoel Sommer

Co-founder and a Managing Partner at CSW Solutions. You can find Yoel on LinkedIn and Twitter.



Microsoft Azure, Azure Managed Services, Azure Migration Services, Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, Cloud Solutions Provider