Jump to

What are the different types of cloud computing?

Cloud adoption continues to grow in popularity as more enterprises replace the upfront costs and long-term maintenance of physical servers and on-premises infrastructure with the scalable, flexible, on-demand computing resources of the public cloud

So, what are the main types of cloud computing models and how do you know which is right for you? The main three types of cloud computing are public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. Within these deployment models, there are four main services: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and serverless computing.

The type of cloud deployment model and cloud service model you choose will vary depending on your existing IT investments, business requirements, and the outcomes you are hoping to achieve. 

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of cloud computing, including deployment and service models.

Cloud deployment models

When adopting cloud architecture, there are three different types of cloud deployment models that help deliver cloud computing services: public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. 

Public cloud

Public clouds deliver resources, such as compute, storage, network, develop-and-deploy environments, and applications over the internet. They are owned and run by third-party cloud service providers like Google Cloud.

Private cloud

Private clouds are built, run, and used by a single organization, typically located on-premises. They provide greater control, customization, and data security but come with similar costs and resource limitations associated with traditional IT environments.

Hybrid cloud

Environments that mix at least one private computing environment (traditional IT infrastructure or private cloud, including edge) with one or more public clouds are called hybrid clouds. They allow you to leverage the resources and services from different computing environments and choose which is the most optimal for the workloads. 

When talking about types of cloud deployment, you may also hear the term multicloud environment. In fact, industry research shows that nearly 90% of companies are now considered multicloud, meaning they combine cloud services from at least two different cloud service providers, whether public or private. Adopting a multicloud approach gives you greater flexibility to choose the solutions that best suit your specific business needs and also reduces the risk of vendor lock-in. 

While multicloud and hybrid cloud are sometimes used interchangeably, a hybrid cloud approach can be considered multicloud, but only if it makes use of services from multiple public cloud providers. 

Types of cloud services: IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS vs. serverless models

Within the cloud deployment models, there are several types of cloud services, including infrastructure, platforms, and software applications. Cloud service models are not mutually exclusive, and you can choose to use more than one in combination or even all of them at once. 

Here are the three main cloud service models: 

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS delivers on-demand infrastructure resources, such as compute, storage, networking, and virtualization. With IaaS, the service provider owns and operates the infrastructure, but customers will need to purchase and manage software, such as operating systems, middleware, data, and applications.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS delivers and manages hardware and software resources for developing, testing, delivering, and managing cloud applications. Providers typically offer middleware, development tools, and cloud databases within their PaaS offerings.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS provides a full application stack as a service that customers can access and use. SaaS solutions often come as ready-to-use applications, which are managed and maintained by the cloud service provider.

Serverless computing

Serverless computing in cloud service models is also called Function as a Service (FaaS). This is a relatively new cloud service model that provides solutions to build applications as simple, event-triggered functions without managing or scaling any infrastructure.

Differences between IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and serverless

A simple analogy to help remember the difference between IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and serverless is to think of the models like eating fresh pasta. You could make your own from scratch (on-premises data center), where you buy all the basic ingredients to make everything like the sauce and dough. 

However, most of us generally don’t have enough time or don’t want to spend so much time and effort to eat a bowl of pasta. Instead you might choose from the following options instead: 

  • IaaS: Buying pre-packed ingredients like fresh pasta and sauce made by someone else that you use to cook at home. 
  • PaaS: Order takeout or delivery where your meal is prepared for you and you don’t have to worry about the ingredients or how you’ll cook it, but you have to worry about where you’ll eat, the utensils, and cleaning up after your meal.  
  • SaaS: Call ahead to the restaurant and order the exact meal you want. They prepare everything ahead of time for you so that all you have to do is show up and eat.
  • Serverless: Go out to dinner and order pasta at a restaurant, alone or with friends. You pay and eat whatever you want and the restaurant makes sure there’s enough ingredients and staff to create the order without a long wait.

Cloud computing technology continues to accelerate digital transformations, providing organizations with everything from compute and storage to cloud databases and development tools to advanced data analytics and AI/ML capabilities. 

At the same time, the cost of cloud computing offers significant savings over traditional IT infrastructure and technology. Instead of having to procure, build, and maintain expensive data centers, companies can opt for virtual servers and other cloud-based IT solutions where they only pay for what they consume. 

Choosing a cloud deployment model and service model is a basic, but necessary, part of cloud adoption. While your implementation and utilization of cloud computing will always be unique from other organizations, it’s important to know the advantages and limitations of different types of cloud computing so you can understand how they will impact your business. 

Solve your business challenges with Google Cloud

New customers get $300 in free credits to spend on Google Cloud.
Get started
Talk to a Google Cloud sales specialist to discuss your unique challenge in more detail.
Contact us