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Cloud vs. SaaS: Which One are You On?

January 26, 2015

Today, it seems like everyone is talking about the Cloud.  The Cloud is constantly referred to in the News and it seems that all the businesses claim to be either using the Cloud or not using the cloud. But what most people don't talk about is SaaS (Software as a Service). In fact, many people are actually using SaaS rather than the cloud. So what's the difference? 
First, let’s break down what cloud computing is: 
"Cloud Computing is often described as a stack, as a response to the broad range of services built on top of one another under the moniker “Cloud”. . . Cloud computing is a model for enabling 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 . . . What this means in plain terms is the ability for end users to utilize parts of bulk resources and that these resources can be acquired quickly and easily" (Kepes). 
There are several characteristics that define exactly what cloud computing is, and these characteristics include: 
"• On-demand self-service. The ability for an end user to sign up and receive services        without the long delays that have characterized traditional IT 
• Broad network access. Ability to access the service via standard platforms (desktop,      laptop, mobile etc) 
• Resource pooling. Resources are pooled across multiple customers 
• Rapid elasticity. Capability can scale to cope with demand peaks  
• Measured Service. Billing is metered and delivered as a utility service" (Kepes)
The stack that makes up the cloud is composed of three layers, Systems as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This is where SaaS comes in. Most businesses use SaaS rather than the other two platforms (for our purposes, we won't address those) because " SaaS applications are designed for end-users, delivered over the web" which is why businesses use them (Kepes). 
The definition of SaaS is as follows: 
"software that is deployed over the internet . . . With SaaS, a provider licenses an application to customers either as a service on demand, through a subscription, in a “pay-as-you-go” model, or (increasingly) at no charge when there is opportunity to generate revenue from streams other than the user, such as from advertisement or user list sales. SaaS is a rapidly growing market as indicated in recent reports that predict ongoing double digit growth [9]. This rapid growth indicates that SaaS will soon become commonplace within every organization and hence it is important that buyers and users of technology understand what SaaS is and where it is suitable" (Kepes). 
Characteristics associated with SaaS include: 
"• Web access to commercial software 
• Software is managed from a central location 
• Software delivered in a “one to many” model 
• Users not required to handle software upgrades and patches 
• Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow for integration between different     pieces of software" (Kepes).
An article by Mark Patterson from ItWorld explained SaaS to simply mean "any software application that you run that is not located on your premises. It is a full-blown application, not a component part of something else. It is not a way to build applications. It is not a plug-in to other applications. It is never something that sits on your machines." Essentially, SaaS is running via a Vendors machine rather than your own businesses servers. 
In sum, SaaS is essentially part of the Cloud layering but is actually more commonly used by businesses than the cloud itself. Hopefully this gives a better understand of the difference between SaaS and the Cloud, but if not, TCG Network Services is here to make sure your business as using the best service possible! To find out how TCG can further help improve your understanding of the Cloud, visit our website and learn how we can help! 

Patterson, Mark. "Back to Basics: The Difference between SaaS and Cloud Computing." ITworld. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <http://www.itworld.com/article/2758057/enterprise-software/back-to-basics--the-difference-between-saas-and-cloud-computing.html>.

Kepes, Ben. "Understanding the Cloud Computing Stack: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS."Understanding the Cloud Computing Stack: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2015. <http://www.rackspace.com/knowledge_center/whitepaper/understanding-the-cloud-computing-stack-saas-paas-iaas>.

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