IaaS vs PaaS vs NaaS

IaaS vs PaaS vs NaaS

As the leader of Nile's Solution Architect and Customer Success teams, I have a story to share as the very first customer to hop on board with Nile. Today, I want to take a few minutes to walk you through how Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Networking as a Service (NaaS), impacted my decision to choose Nile. I hope that these very same reasons hold tremendous significance for your organization. So, buckle up and get ready for a whirlwind tour of technology and its real-world impact!

What's the story?

Prior to officially joining Nile in 2021, I ran the IT department for a software development company where our primary business function was to develop software and then provide it in a SaaS model to our customers. When I joined the company in 2016 (for the second time), they were still running their own data centers and my teams were responsible for all the server, storage, and networking requirements (both hardware and software) to accomplish that. Just prior to my joining, the company’s SaaS offering had been reviewed by a large consulting organization and the major finding was to question why we were still running our own kit and not taking advantage of cloud-based IaaS and PaaS offerings. So, my immediate mandate was to determine IF those offerings made sense for us and then to implement them if they did. We spent the next several years stabilizing our own SaaS offering on our hardware while simultaneously doing an analysis of what other offerings were out there. By the time our offering was at a point where we could consider doing a migration, our analysis was complete and we had decided to move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to take advantage of their IaaS and PaaS offerings. 

What are IaaS and PaaS?

IaaS is the capability provided to the consumer to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, and deployed applications; and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls). An example of IaaS would include AWS EC2 (compute service).

PaaS is the capability provided to the consumer to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment.  An example of PaaS would include AWS Elastic Beanstalk or EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service).

Migrating to IaaS and PaaS

We decided that we would use several IaaS and PaaS services including EC2 and RDS to replace the existing backend platform to our SaaS offering. Over the next several years, we migrated out of our data centers and into AWS. Now why did we decide to do this? It came down to a bunch of ‘ilities.

  • Stability
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Visibility
  • Geographicability (if that is a word)

Essentially, using these cloud services provided us with abilities that we just did not have if we were running our own kit in our own data centers. We could now sleep at night knowing that someone else was managing all the power and cooling; we did not have to be up in the middle of the night in a data center doing firmware updates and we did not have to manage a bunch of monitoring apps just to tell us if our stuff was working. We could expand to other regions across the country and around the world quickly and reliably and we never had to worry about warranties or manage lifecycles ever again.

But even more importantly than all that, my teams now had cycles to think about and work on things that mattered to our business. We were a software developer and a service provider for that software, so things like CI/CD pipelines and security were paramount but previously undermanned due to a simple lack of cycles. My server and storage teams became even more integral to the organization and maybe more importantly they were very visibly contributing to what we did.

Here comes NaaS!

Flash forward a little bit and I was given the opportunity to be involved with Nile when they were just building out the service that we have now. Eventually, the opportunity came to deploy it in our head office and my immediate thought process was the same as it had been for our cloud migration. Our campus wired and wireless network was a vital piece of our business. I needed executives, salespeople, developers, and support staff to be connected at all times in the office, but I wanted to be able to minimize the cycles my teams needed to spend to make that happen. Same as what we did with AWS. I did not want to have to worry about managing hardware or patching operating systems or dealing with warranties or end-of-life equipment anymore. My teams had gotten very used to feeling like they had time to be innovative and bring new ideas to the table. I wanted the networking team to be empowered to do that as well.

In December 2020, we deployed the NaaS solution from Nile and that company still relies on it today. There are many definitions in the market for what NaaS really is but based on my initial and continuing experience with Nile, I would say that it is like a PaaS for the network. Nile provides not only the underlying infrastructure but also manages the operating systems and allows the customer to build their campus wired and wireless networks on top, like how PaaS allows customers to build and deploy applications.

Nile can deploy campus networks that just work in addition to enhancing your security posture in ways that traditional networking finds very challenging. But that is a story for another time.

Thank you for letting me share my unique experience in becoming the very first Nile customer. I hope that my story helps you in your journey to adopting NaaS the Nile way. 

Learn more about NaaS here.

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