Generally, you’ll see cloud hosting services broken down into two types of services. There are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The difference between the two boils down to which aspects of the cloud you manage and which aspects your vendor or service provider manages for you. I’ll try to explain these in simple terms.

For starters, let’s cover the basic aspects of cloud hosting. Your service will include the following core components:

  • Applications
  • Runtimes
  • Security
  • Databases
  • Servers
  • Server Hardware
  • Storage
  • Networking
  • Virtualization

I’ll save a description for each of these for another time. For now, know that these are the components of your cloud hosting package.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – IaaS is usually cheaper than PaaS, but you end up managing more of the process. With IaaS, you manage the core components of Applications, Runtimes, Security and Databases. Your cloud hosting provider manages everything else.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) – With PaaS services, you manage the applications and the cloud hosting provider manages everything else.

This is important to know when shopping for cloud hosting services. If you feel comfortable managing your databases, security components and runtimes then you can save a few dollars by managing those components yourself. However, if you believe that you can get better service (and often you can) then you should find a cloud hosting provider who will manage all that for you and leave the applications to your team to manage.

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