Is There Any Difference Between Cloud Computing And Software-as-a-Service?

The Cloud graph. Image courtesy of
The Cloud graph. Image courtesy of

There are many IT trends that shaped how we do our computing today. From DOS to Recognizable OS like Windows and Mac OS; traditional web design to simple UI using content management systems; from on site data storage to cloud storage. So many things have changed and still many are left to be discovered and innovated in the near computing future. It is said that by 2020, there will more data than the grain of sands in the earth. It is a very heavy thing to say, but with all the data that every person is making around the world, it may be possible to reach that number.

The advent of the internet made these humungous amount of data to be uploaded and downloaded every day around the world. It can be for personal computing, for business, for running an industry or for government use. A few years ago, physical storage systems and rows of servers are needed in the house to accommodate information and data storage, network use and for licensed software. A solution was needed to overcome issues with physical and virtual space. And with the mentioned issues,  cloud computing and SaaS were introduced.

Many IT experts have noticed that there are a lot of vendors talking about cloud computing in their marketing peripherals, but in most cases, they are referring to solutions that can be called Software-as-a service. Or is cloud computing just a buzzword to shake up the IT community or a new industry buzzword with no real and solid meaning? To make it more simple, SaaS  is a type of cloud computing.

Cloud Computing Defined

Most often people have mistakenly interchanged cloud computing to SaaS. Although these two technologies are related, they are not the same. Is there any distinction between the two? Let’s try to dig in deeper and spread out the specifics to know the difference between the two and so you can better choose the products and services that will benefit you or your organisation.

The cloud expert. Image courtesy of
The cloud expert. Image courtesy of

As defined by Wikipedia, cloud computing refers to a  computing hardware machine or to a group of of computing hardware machines (servers) that are connected to a communication network like the internet, intranet, LAN (local area network) or WAN (wide area network). Any user, individual or group who has permission to access the server can use the hardware processing power in running an application or number of applications, store data or perform other computing tasks. The person can now use and run applications from anywhere around the world  because the server provides the processing power to the software or application as long as there is a good internet connection or any other connection platforms available as compared to  using a personal computer in running a specific application. The term “cloud” is used as an internet metaphor that came from a symbol that network engineers used in showing network diagrams that represents the unknown segments of the network. Cloud computing is made up of:

  • Data storage capacity
  • Virtual computers or servers
  • Development environments
  • Network capacity

Advantages Of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing can be compared to an electricity grid. It relies on sharing resources in achieving economies of scale and to achieve coherence. It also holds the broader concept of shared services and converged infrastructures. Cloud computing refers to the bigger picture that allows people to use the internet to access technology-enabled products and services. With this principle, we can say that the cloud also focuses on the effectiveness of the resources shared. The resources in the cloud are not only shared by multiple users but also can

The help desk. Image courtesy of
The help desk. Image courtesy of

be relocated on demand. It can maximise the use of computing power that can help in reducing environmental damage, minimise power consumption, Rackspace, air conditioning and physical space. Cloud computing can also allow users to access a single server  retrieving and updating data without the need to purchase different licenses for different software applications. Early adopters have also stated that cloud computing allows companies to save in infrastructure cost and put focus on projects that differentiate the businesses. They also stated that cloud computing allows enterprises and other business organisations to get their computer applications run faster with less maintenance and enhanced manageability. It will also allow IT people to quickly adjusted resources to meet the fluctuating and most often unpredictable demands of the business.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)  Defined

SaaS or software-as-service is a method of software delivery, allowing  information or data to be accessed from any device with a good internet connection and stable browser. The software service providers or vendors host and maintain the servers, code and database that makes up the application. This web-based setup is a departure  from the on-premise and the physical software delivery system. Businesses and companies will not need to invest  large capitals in extensive hardware in running and hosting the after. This will also allow the clients to outsource most of the IT responsibilities that require them to troubleshoot and maintain the software. This will also let IT people to focus more on core tasks in maintaining the internal network. SaaS price model is also different from traditional on-

Pie chart comparison showing SaaS benefits. Image courtesy of
Pie chart comparison showing SaaS benefits. Image courtesy of

premise software. On-premise software is commonly sold through a so called perpetual license. This means that the buyer or client owns the license to the software. The client also pays between 15%-20% annually in tech support and maintenance fees. SaaS, on the other hand, allows clients to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee that typically includes the license to the software, support and other fees. SaaS will let the business or enterprise to spread the cost over time. To put it simply, software-as-a-service is a type of cloud computing.

Reasons To Consider SaaS

There are a number of reasons or factors to consider to use SaaS for your company. Main reasons include:

  • Lowering the expenses that are associated with software acquisitions.
  • Shifting the some of the IT budget from capital expenses to operational expenses.
  • Limited IT resources to deploy and maintain the required hardware and software.
  • Refocusing on the IT staff from deployment and maintenance of core or high priority tasks and projects.
  • Reduce energy consumption and expense.

Advantages Of SaaS

SaaS have many benefits over traditional on-site software. These include:

  1. Affordability. As compared to traditional software, SaaS is commonly sold on a subscription basis that includes upgrades, customer support and maintenance.  Because it’s based on a monthly subscription payment, there is no expensive up front payment.
  2. Zero infrastructure. When using applications through SaaS, the complexity of the IT infrastructure is

    The balloon solution. Image courtesy of
    The balloon solution. Image courtesy of

    handled by the SaaS service provider. Clients will not have to worry about maintaining hardware or the version of the OS that the system supports. The SaaS provider will take care of these things.

  3. Deployed faster. SaaS only requires a solid browser and a stable internet connection. For traditional software, it can take weeks  or months to have it setup and deployed within the workforce.
  4. No issues with upgrades. The SaaS vendor are the ones that will manage the upgrades,  updates and patches, thus the client will be assured that the software the client is using is up to date.
  5. Data recovery and data backup are processed on the client’s behalf. The process of doing weekly backups is a very time consuming and labor intensive process, specifically for traditional software. SaaS can eliminate these laborious tasks and instigating automatic backups without any user intervention which will ensure the integrity of the data.
  6. Work anywhere at anytime. With a good internet connection, SaaS solutions can be accessed anywhere in the world at any time. Clients  will be able to access their data and efficiently work from anywhere. This can be very handy for people who work across different sites and field agents.

Historically, we can say that SaaS led to the creation and development of cloud computing, which is essentially a bigger platform and where the software-as-a-service  resides. We can also say that SaaS sits on the cloud. Cloud computing offers additional services not just SaaS, while SaaS is only a software that is delivered to an end user from the cloud. It can be said that SaaS of better suited for smaller operations that requires inexpensive business solutions while cloud computing is more suited for larger business organisations that have more resources and require or control of the sensitive data.



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