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Pizza as a Service - On Prem, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS Explained through Pie (Not Pi)

IaaS, PaaS and SaaS? If you’re like me, the wonderful world of tech acronyms is one ginormous pain in the, ah, aaS, if you know what I mean. At least “on-premises” can be deciphered without too much work. But what about IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS? What’s the difference among those?

I recently came across this handy-dandy infographic in a posting from Tom Murdock of Acquia (update: I was finally able to find the original source, which turned out to be a LinkedIn post by Albert Barron, a software architect at IBM), that I liked a lot. It explains the various “… as a service” models using everyone’s food favorite – PIZZA!!! – as the analogy.

Thus, let us first look at the traditional on-premises world of content management systems. In the pizza world that translates into you doing everything yourself – everything from getting the ingredients together, to having the equipment needed to turn those ingredients into a cooked pizza, to supplying the dining table and beverages for your complete pizza dinner. If you’re into creating your own home-grown CMS, I suppose you could stretch the analogy to say that you’ve gone to the extreme of growing your own tomatoes, milking your own cows and kneading your own dough.

Think of “Take and Bake” or “Go Get that Frozen Pizza” as an analogy for Infrastructure as a Service. All you need worry about is the stuff needed to warm and serve that pizza. In the CMS world, IaaS usually means having the vendor take care of the hardware running the content management system, making sure the server, storage, load balancers, network, and what-all are at peak performance.

With Platform as a Service, you don’t even have to manage the underlying operating hardware or software. In the pizza world, all you need to do is set the table, because the pie will be delivered to you ready-to-eat. In the CMS world, the only thing you need to be concerned with is the CMS itself. The infrastructure and platform is taken care of by the vendor.And finally, we end up with Software as a Service. Pizza-wise, you’re dining out and enjoying a thin-crust or deep dish Chicago-style pie. In CMS-land, you’re free to concentrate on content for your website and your marketing initiatives, and don’t have to worry about patches, security, and maintenance upgrades.

For example, with Ektron SaaS (you knew I was going there, didn’t you?), you can put resources on business innovation, not on datacenter overhead. You get agility, because you can easily create and manage content without involving IT. You get peace of mind, because installation, provisioning, and monitoring are taken care of by Ektron. And you should see lower costs and reduce overall website technology spending by lowering upfront investments and scaling needs based on actual demands.

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