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Which public cloud offering is right for you?

Which public cloud offering is right for you? 

Your company has meticulously weighed the pros and cons and has decided to transition from an on-premise to a public cloud infrastructure. While that’s an important step, it’s only the first one. Now, you need to develop a cloud implementation plan that will help your business meet its goals, but with a myriad of options and providers available, this may seem easier said than done. Our team of cloud computing experts is providing an in-depth look at your options to help you build the foundation of your strategy.  

An overview of public cloud infrastructure services 

For the flagship public cloud providers, application services are available in the following paradigms:  

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) 
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) 
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

To help you make the best choices for your organization, our team is evaluating the three public cloud offerings on several criteria:  

  • Portfolio objective and existing investments 
  • Technical requirements 
  • Security and regulatory compliance 
  • Funding approach 

It’s important to note that while each option has benefits that may better suit your organization, transitioning to any of the three cloud-computing models will offer greater business agility and reduce your management and maintenance costs compared to using an on-premises infrastructure.  

For a more in-depth understanding of these options, be sure to read our whitepaper on the topic, Cloud 101: Let’s remove the complexity 

Software as a Service (SaaS) 

SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model that is entirely managed by a third-party provider and typically offered through a subscription. This offers greater flexibility and while reducing costs. Common SaaS products include Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce CRM, Workday, and Google G Suite.  

Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) 

IaaS offers computing, storage, and networking resources in the cloud, making it the most similar to the traditional virtual machine hosting in your organization’s on-premises datacenter or remote hosting facility. This is a key element of most organizations’ cloud implementation plan, offering scalable hosting in a pay-as-you-go format. However, after your cloud implementation plan is complete, IaaS virtual machines still require your IT team to manage underlying patching and support.  

Example workloads of IaaS include application hosting, backend processing, and traditional enterprise software, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX.     

Platform as a Service (PaaS)  

PaaS is a service that allows organizations to build and run applications without the cost and complexity of maintaining the supporting infrastructure, including the networking, servers, storage, OS, and middleware. Examples of PaaS products include Amazon Elastic Beanstalk and Microsoft Azure Web App.  

According to an April 2019 Gartner report, SaaS is the largest public cloud service market, though IaaS is the fastest-growing market segment. Overall, no model is better or more preferred over another. Instead, with such rapid growth of cloud adoption, it’s essential to choose the right options and build a cloud implementation strategy that best suits your goals and will support your ability to remain competitive and provide value to your customers.  


This diagram shows how responsibilities are divided between your organization and the cloud provider depending on the public cloud offering you choose.   

Portfolio Objectives 

All enterprises rely on multiple software applications to fulfill a broad range of business objectives. These applications are typically in variable states of value to your business and have differing degrees of currency with modern patterns and frameworks.  


Enterprise applications are generally organized into three categories: invest, contain, and replace. Each category serves different purposes, and with each, there is a preferred cloud implementation that best fits those purposes. 

Portfolio investments 

Enterprises have essential applications that serve the core line of the organization. These are unique to the organization, rooted in the organization’s value offering, and are enhanced to accommodate a changing business marketplace, respond to competition, and deliver value to customers.  

Best choice: PaaS 

Because these applications are mission-critical to your organization and act as differentiators from competitors, these will likely require a high degree of investment in financial and human resources. PaaS is the best option for this role because it offers the greatest flexibility to accommodate custom business applications and provides the support needed for it to function properly.  

Portfolio containment 

Many of your business applications are essential but serve a narrow business need related to operations. These may include accounts payable, recruitment, or timekeeping. Typically, these applications serve the organization well in their existing state and don’t require major project teams to support them. 

Best choice: IaaS 

These applications don’t require major investments of either time or money to “keep the lights on.” Choosing IaaS during your cloud migration plan is often the best option as you continue to support these applications without having to overhaul the core implementation and architecture. 

Portfolio replacements 

Every organization has applications that are outdated, obsolete due to a changing business and regulatory environment, or simply no longer serve their original intended purpose. Most likely your organization has applications that should simply be replaced with a more modern solution that will better suit your needs. 

Best choice: SaaS 

Replace applications with subscription-based software as a service. You can use it as long as it suits the needs of your business, and because a third-party engineering and support team is in place, your business will benefit from the continuous updates without having to expend extra resources beyond the subscription cost.  

Choosing a public cloud infrastructure service based on technical requirements 

It’s also important to consider the technical functionality an application may require as the technical requirements may make one cloud offering preferable to the others. When migrating an application to a PaaS versus an IaaS, there are several technical requirements to consider in order to implement the cloud migration plan successfully.  

Technical requirements requiring reengineering for a PaaS migration include:  

  • Server installed software (ActiveX, Win32, VAS, etc.) 
  • Local/SAN file access (local processing, file drops, etc.) – Many of the PaaS offerings abstract away all local resources to better accommodate the public cloud environment 
  • Web applications that favor server-based session state versus database-/cookie-based state  
  • Non-traditional application and environment solutions (e.g., SQLite, nginx, etc.) 
  • High I/O loads  
  • Vertical scale architectures/server state management — One large virtual machine is typically more expensive than many less expensive ones 
  • If these items are not a factor, then a PaaS migration may be the right choice. However, the more of these items that become applicable, the higher the re-platforming cost and lower the overall value. In that case, it would be smarter to use a traditional IaaS offering. 

Leveraging existing investments 

While your organization may want a true cloud hosting approach, in some cases, your existing datacenter investments will better serve your application needs. This is most common with applications that have high restructuring costs where keeping them contained in the existing datacenter is most practical.  

Considering security and regulatory compliance in a cloud implementation plan 

Security is a top priority with all modern applications, and nearly all industries have regulatory compliance rules in place. While each organization is different, factoring in security and regulatory compliance into cloud deployment has consistent themes.  


PaaS offer the best value for custom and convertible cloud migration plans, but they may not meet specific regulatory requirements. For example, there may be concerns related to physical server identification, multi-tenancy, and own-IP proprietary requirements. Though companies that must meet strict regulations can go the PaaS route, any personally identifiable customer or employee data may need to reside in IaaS hold-offs or local datacenters operating in a hybrid model.  


The majority of current regulatory components are targeted towards on-premises hosting models. Shifting to an IaaS option provides the most linear comparison to meet those needs.  


SaaS offerings, as public cloud entities themselves, provide regulatory disclosures to customers. These typically offer very little change flexibility per customer but are available to review on demand. The two largest cloud providers, Amazon and Microsoft, also provide trust information for all service offerings across the cloud.  

Funding strategy 

A cloud migration plan typically requires a substantial financial investment though each public cloud option has several approaches for funding. However, it’s important to consider whether each funding strategy falls within the parameters of your organization.  


PaaS options are subscription-based, so it’s important to consider this if you plan to reduce ongoing revenue expenses. However, they have limited maintenance costs and efficient server usage which may reduce overall outgoing revenue and may be a better financial option.  


IaaS virtual machines are available as an operational expense. However, by supporting a datacenter analogue, product licensing costs may be front-loaded from a capital perspective, making this a more attractive option for capital-heavy organizations.  


SaaS applications are subscription-based services, so like the PaaS options, may be better for companies with operational expense budgets rather than capital budgets.  

Which public cloud offering suits your cloud implementation plan?  

When you’re considering which public cloud offerings are the right option for your organization, it’s important to examine the four factors above and prioritize how they fit into your goals. Taking this approach will help you gain clarity into which will be the best suited for your cloud implementation plan.  

If you’re feeling stuck or have some questions about transitioning to a public cloud infrastructure, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today to get started. 

About the author

John Dages

John Dages is Fusion’s Machine Learning Solution Director. With over 15 years of technology leadership experience, John brings a unique and essential perspective to enterprise customers’ cloud and advanced analytics journeys. By leveraging his data, application development, systems integration, and I&O background, John offers a complete picture of how companies can utilize machine learning to drive a competitive advantage and engineer true intellectual property.

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