Understanding The Difference Between Cloud Computing And SaaS

These days, much of our corporate activity occurs on the internet. Two of the most common terms used in this area are ‘cloud computing’ and ‘software as a service’ (SaaS).

Since these matters are relatively new though, not too many people know precisely what they mean. In fact, there is so much confusion that the terms are often spoken of interchangeably. To rectify this, the following guide aims to eliminate any misunderstanding in this area.

Basic Definitions

Let’s start by looking at the simplest definitions of these two terms and then expand out to precisely how they influence our lives.

  • Cloud Computing: the use of resources on an server or computer found in an external location
  • SaaS: the use of software which is found on a server or computer in another place. These programs are licensed to the user for a certain period.

Before we discuss the complexities, please note that cloud computing is a broader field than SaaS. In fact, you could say that SaaS exists within the more extensive cloud computing category. This is because cloud computing gives you access to a virtual environment that is customisable while SaaS offers limited features that depend on the functionality of the software.

Real World Examples

It might be easier to understand the difference between these two virtual services by looking at some existing offerings. When looking at examples of cloud computing services that are popular these days, the list is ever-changing. For now though, let’s just go over some of the most commonly used to preserve clarity:

  • Facebook
  • Hotmail
  • Google Docs
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
  • Dropbox

In all of these cases, you’re using an external server to store, modify and send files via the internet. Whether these contain text, images or videos is beside the point.

As for SaaS, we’ll have to look at specific software which is being offered in a virtual environment. The following examples come to mind:

  • Salesforce
  • QuickBooks
  • Basecamp
  • Google App Engine

In these cases, you pay for access to software that is located on a third party server, gaining the licence to use it for a limited period of time.

Virtual Benefits

The rise in popularity of cloud computing and SaaS has a lot to do with the added convenience that both bring. For example, you can find PCI compliant hosting that secures online credit card transactions without the need to set anything up on your workplace computers. Even if you don’t have any technical expertise, you can still access cloud-based software such as Gmail or QuickBooks and make use of their many features. Some other benefits of these virtual services are found below:

  • With SaaS, the user doesn’t have to update or maintain the software. They also don’t have to purchase the hardware necessary to run these programs and store essential data.
  • With cloud computing, users can customise their experience, utilising certain features, expanding their storage space, etc. as their individual needs shift over time.

As you can see, there is a lot that you can gain from using both of these online services. Just remember that their benefits will vary as they work in different ways.

A Word in Summary

You should now know the basic differences between cloud computing and SaaS. To survive in today’s modern corporate world, you’ll have to utilise both of these within your business model anyway. Whether you’re encouraging employee collaboration through Google Docs or you’re focusing on CRM with Salesforce, these virtual services will be of great use for your company.

Remember the differences between how these two modern day, corporate essentials work and you should have a better idea of their benefits:

  • Cloud computing is a flexible service which allows the user access to a customisable virtual environment that offers a number of features.
  • SaaS is a scenario in which a user licenses a program found on a third party server in order to make use of its specific functionality.

Hopefully this has given you a good overview of how cloud computing and SaaS work, their differences & similarities, and how they can benefit you and your company. In today’s technological age, it’s a good idea to be on top of all the latest terminology so you can then make

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