Cloud Fundamentals: Service Categories

Understanding building blocks of Cloud computing.

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Before cloud computing, starting an internet company was challenging and expensive. Whether you have a product ready or are in the process, you need to spend a lot on setting up resources (more giant computers) to host and manage your product. In addition, scaling up the processing power or data storage to handle the spike was very time-consuming and expensive.

More prominent companies like Amazon managed to minimize the time to scale up by setting up idle infrastructure for handling spikes in traffic, and that’s where they realized that this could be an opportunity to rent their idle infrastructure. This concept of renting out infrastructure is then called cloud computing.

So, let’s see what services AWS, GCP, and other cloud providers provide.

All the cloud computing services offered by cloud providers are of 3 categories. IAAS, PAAS, and SAAS. Any service provided using cloud computing belongs to one of these categories. So, we will first understand what these categories are and what services Google Cloud offers in these categories.

Cloud Computing services

Before you go through the text, try to understand this image created by Microsoft. If you don’t get anything, don’t worry. Instead, go through the below explanations of each service and then come back and see the image again.


IAAS is short for “Infrastructure As A Service.” To create a network infrastructure, you need many network devices such as Switches, Routers, Firewalls, Cables, IPs, Hard drives, and So on. If you have to manage all these components yourself, it will incur a lot of costs just to get started.

Now, Google has all these devices and better resources to manage all the networks. In IAAS, a cloud provider provides virtual access to its network resources to create our system. You will get access to storage, IPs, and firewalls, and the cloud provider manages all of these, in this case, Google.

In IAAS, a user needs to handle all the service configurations. There is so much leverage, and the user has all the freedom to choose infrastructure configuration in the IAAS. But remember, more power brings more responsibility. Cost is directly proportional to the control you have over the resources. Hence IAAS services are costly as compared to PAAS and SAAS.

Some services provided under IAAS by Google Cloud are IPs, Firewalls, Storage, Virtual Private Cloud, and Compute Engine.


PAAS stands for “Platform As A Service.” In this category of services, the Cloud provider will provide a well-defined and managed environment for your application. To simplify this, let’s take the example of Android Studio, Visual Studio, or Xcode. These all give you the components to create an app for their platform. You have to use them according to your idea of app development.

But those are native development platforms. Similarly, Cloud providers will provide you with all the necessary platforms to manage your data and application in Cloud computing. In addition, they handle all the complexity and maintenance. These services are sometimes also called “Managed Services.” This means users don’t have to worry about the housekeeping of these applications and focus on the use-case only.

As shown in the above image, the less control you have over the service, the less cost you will be paying for it, resulting in more efficiency. Hence, PAAS services are cheaper than IAAS.

Examples of PAAS in Google Cloud are Google App Engine, the first Google Cloud service, BigQuery, Cloud SQL, Cloud PubSub, etc.


SAAS is an abbreviation for “Software As A Service.” Any software or utility we use on the browser without installing natively on the system is referred to as “Software As A Service.” In the cloud computing domain, Google Cloud Platform does not provide any direct SAAS service; however, many Google Apps like Gmail, Maps, Calendar, and many more are hosted on Google Cloud, which are examples of SAAS. Google Cloud Platform is a backbone for any software as a service product you want to develop.

Talking about cost, compared to IAAS and PAAS, the cost of the SAAS application depends on the solution and the business model of the company/developer who has developed it. But a majority of the software applications are free of cost.