Cloud Computing Vs. SaaS: A Comparative Analysis
When discussing Cloud Computing and SaaS (Software as a Service), people often think both terms are synonymous with each other. However, this is not true. Cloud Computing is a wider term awhile SaaS is a part/component of it as clarified by this diagram.
- What is Cloud Computing?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
The word cloud here refers to the internet. Cloud Computing is done whenever you log on to a computer that is outside of your physical location. In other words, resources are made available to you over the internet.
Before the advent of Cloud Computing companies needed their servers and computers right inside their offices. Then a staff member would install a CD on their personal computer and get access to the main server. As a result, the requested data would only be stored on that personal computer.
Now with Cloud Computing what happens is that the data is stored on a remote server by a 3rdparty. These virtual servers are housed in data centers globally.
So now you do not need a personal computer to fetch that data. Instead, you can use your mobile, PC, laptop to log on to that server and fetch your data into your device. Physically you can be present anywhere in the world not only inside your office. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and you are done!
One example of this is Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. It allows you to select your own operating system, software packages, CPU, boot partition size etc. according to firm’s needs.
Other examples include Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure etc.
- What is SaaS?
SaaS (Software as a Service) means to provide licensed software/application to the user which is accessible through internet or web browser. The user does not need to install or maintain the software. They pay a monthly fee and the 3rdparty is responsible for proper working of the software that includes maintenance, security, and performance.
Some examples include: SalesForce, GoToMeeting
- Difference between Cloud Computing and SaaS
So what exactly happens when you run a SaaS application? For example, you log into your vendor’s website, say QuickBooks Online from anywhere in the world. You will describe this scenario saying that ‘a SaaS application (QuickBooks Online) is running in the cloud’ but SaaS application IS NOT the cloud. Cloud is the server where QuickBooks is hosted. SaaS basically ‘sits’ in the cloud while Cloud Computing provides additional services like hardware and networking.
SaaS applications are end-user applications, (Google Docs) while Cloud Computing is the rentable infrastructure and services.
Cloud Computing gives you the liberty to customize according to the need. For example, you can increase or decrease server capacity according to your firm’s requirement. SaaS, on the other hand, restricts you to the features and capabilities pre-written in the software.
SaaS is better suited for smaller processes owing to its cost effectiveness. Businesses and individuals looking for an inexpensive solution for storing their data can turn to SaaS for data storage.
Cloud Computing, on the other hand, is suitable for larger firms who are looking to store huge amounts of sensitive and confidential data and are also in a position to pay a premium price for it.