We use cookies and other similar technologies (Cookies) to enhance your experience and to provide you with relevant content and ads. By using our website, you are agreeing to the use of Cookies. You can change your settings at any time. Cookie Policy.
Start a Discussion
Cloud Computing

What's the Difference Between SaaS and the Cloud?

Vote 1 Vote
Last week we asked about the difference between cloud and virtualizaion.  In the last answer, Joel York brings up that many use SaaS and cloud interchangeably, but as he discusses in this blog post, they are in fact different.  So what's the difference, and at some point will they simply become the same thing?

26 Replies

| Add a Reply
  • As I've outlined in my cloud-o-gram, there are offerings "of the cloud", "on the cloud", "about the cloud" and "for the cloud". SaaS is an offering on the cloud. IaaS and PaaS are offerings of the cloud.

    As well, I prefer the term "Cloud Computing Environment" to differentiate the consumer and technology views of the cloud.

    Here's an excerpt:

    Cloud Computing Environment: A cloud computing environment (CCE) is the end result of applying technology, architecture and engineering practices, along with operating, security, policy and economic models, in a manner that optimizes for resource sharing, elasticity (scale), automation, self-service and pay-as-you-go.

    Rather than chasing cloud computing environment descriptors – public, private, virtual private – the cloud-o-gram calls out the underlying aspects, such as physical location, owner and target markets. This allows for a wide range of cloud computing environments, such as a government agency CCE designed to provide services to other agencies, a CCE that specializes by industry, or even a CCE that specializes by workload.

    For the “Cloud? (CCE): Offerings for the CCE include all of the hardware, software, standards, practices and services to build, use, manage and secure a cloud computing environment. Many of the wares in this category are not unique to cloud computing, however each contributes to the existence and success of a CCE.

    About the “Cloud? (CCE): Offerings about the CCE include all the software, services, practices and standards concerned with delegating management control of business information and workloads to external parties. Facets include assurance, compliance, billing and metering, and brokering.

    Cloud Computing & Cloud Computing Environment Offerings

    On the “Cloud? (CCE): Offerings on the CCE are applications, software, information, services or processes services deployed onto, and therefore accessed from, a cloud computing environment. Typically, these offerings provide agency, business or consumer capability, rather than technical capability.

    Of the “Cloud? (CCE): Offerings of the CCE are technical capabilities exposed via service interfaces, which are consumed during the development and/or delivery of agency, business or consumer capabilities. These technical capabilities provide infrastructure (IaaS) or platform (PaaS) services. Examples include compute, storage, data management, integration, orchestration, and application development.

  • In a nutshell, the difference is similar to that between Web Services and SOA. Web Services is one implementation of SOA and SaaS is one delivery model of a Cloud.

  • Actually, there can be great distinction between SaaS and Cloud Computing, if we define Cloud Computing to consist of optimal use of compute resources. SaaS is a hosted application, which can be poorly-written and use compute resources in a horrible manner, but allow multiple users to use the same executables while maintaining logically private data sets for each customer. The Cloud uses resources in an optimal manner, which implies sharing of resources across a set customers.

    Hence, their commonality is multi-tenancy, yet, their differences can be many.

  • As I indicated in response to a previous Forum question, "Is SaaS Part of Cloud Computing?", THINKstrategies believes the success of SaaS business applications has fuelled the growth of a broader assortment of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud computing offerings. While people within the IT industry may enjoy debating about whether SaaS and cloud computing are different, most corporate decision-makers view them as sharing similar attributes and offering similar business benefits.

  • The Cloud consists of all XaaS services. SaaS is only one type of outourcing your IT.

  • Stock answer - SaaS is a cloud delivery model according to the widely referenced NIST standard.

    My gut answer - I'm sooo weary of the debate on what is and isn't really cloud. Is private really cloud? How about internal? What about security as a service? What about the ASP model? Oh the humanity of it all!! Now matter how you choose to characterize it, the bottom line is this - does it benefit my business? I feel better now. ;-}

  • user-pic

    SaaS is again an enhanced version of its erstwhile Avatar ASP (application service provider).Unfortunately ASP models did not gain much business advantage in pre-internet era when the legacy network architecture was largely prporietary.The ubiquous Internet on the www has made across the globe spread of this sort of computing services from remote over internet.

  • While I tend to agree with the comments that business buyers of IT really don't care about the terminology, I think the debate within the software community is not trivial, because it underscores a fundamental shift in the industry....again. And, understanding the shift is essential to successful business strategy, venture investment and entrepreneurship.

    My interest is not to clarify the terms, but the trends.

    The trends...

    1) The Internet has been the primary driving force in software evolution for the last 10 years and will continue to be for the next 10 or more as bandwidth increases, convergence continues and adoption spreads.

    2) Increased standards and interoperability are driving a shift from building vertically integrated applications for human end-users to building application components that can be dynamically accessed by other computers.
    This shift is GIGANTIC, and is the essence of cloud computing.

    The terms....

    The word cloud has become so overused that the difference between "the cloud" and "the Internet" is roughly the difference between "Kleenex" and "facial tissue"

    I get my news from the cloud
    I get my CRM from the cloud
    I get my storage from the cloud

    So, for me Cloud = Internet

    The real distinction should be between SaaS and Cloud Computing, because that distinction mirrors the shift from applications for human users to components for computer users.

    ...has it's roots in B2B enterprise applications delivered over the Web. However, the spirit of SaaS is more than just outsourcing and lower TCO. Software-as-a-service has always meant transforming software into service, such that people don't have to deal with the technology. They simply and effortlessly realize the benefits as with the software behind your local ATM machine....just gimme some cash. Broadly defined, SaaS includes Google and Facebook, not just Salesforce.com.

    Cloud Computing....
    has its roots in Web services and virtualization. But, I'll argue that the real trend began in the consumer world with RSS. This tiny, Really Simple Syndication standard is the technological underpinning of the rise of social media. Hot on it's heels we have Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter rolling out open Web service APIs covering everything from finance to friends. And, along comes Amazon AWS. RSS, widgets, mashups, Web services, open APIs, SOA, virturalization....these are the ideas and technologies that underlie the emergence of cloud computing as an industry shift from only building integrated end-user applications to building more and more components for computer users.

    Taken literally, cloud computing = Internet computing.
    The network is the computer. (sorry, couldn't resist)

    Will SaaS and Cloud Computing remain distinct? To the extent that SaaS architects adopt SOA principles, and SaaS vendors provide open API access to their applications at all layers of the technology stack...SaaS and Cloud Computing applications will become indistinguishable. But, it will always be easy to tell the human users from the computer users.

    My 2 cents.

    Joel York
    at http://chaotic-flow.com

    The original post can be found here...

  • Simply put, Software-as-a-Service is about delivering applications as a service over the Internet in a pay-as-you-go model. There are SaaS leaders across multiple categories of applications, including Customer Relationship Management (salesforce.com, Oracle), Messaging and Collaboration (Google, Cisco Webex), Human Capital Management (ADP, Taleo, Success Factors), Enterprise Resource Planning (NetSuite), and many more. Research analysts had estimated the size of the SaaS market to be between $12-14 billion by 2010.
    Cloud Computing, on the other hand, is about delivering both applications and infrastructure as a service. Cloud Computing is now generally defined in terms of three layers: application, platform, and infrastructure. SaaS has evolved to become the application layer of Cloud Computing; the platform layer consists of providers such as Force.com, Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, among others, that deliver a hosted platform and tools to build, run, and manage your applications in their cloud environment; the infrastructure layer consists of providers, including Amazon Web Services, IBM, Opsource, and others, that provide a hosted infrastructure to run and manage any cloud application you develop in a public or private cloud and pay for it based on an elastic pricing model (unlike the traditional managed service providers). The Cloud Computing market is estimated to be anywhere from $60 billion to $165 billion over the next few years.

  • Have to say this is a quick answer and Adrian Grigoriu is bang on. There is no need for lengthy discussions with this type of question as business decision makers will switch off and the point of both SaaS and Cloud computing will be lost...

  • There is a debate whether they are different or not or whether Cloud encompasses SaaS along with PaaS and IaaS. One way to look at Cloud is that it is a delivery model for pay-per-use infrastructure that can be consumed like a utility. SaaS is a business model around how to deliver software as a service. SaaS could also be done without a cloud delivery mechanism but it almost always can be done best using a cloud or a IAAS as a delivery mechanism underneath.

  • we use cloud computing, its a great way for people to benefit from spreading the cost of high redundancy

  • "Cloud Computing" is not just a buzzword;it refers to the bigger picture.. distinct meaning separate from SaaS.

  • Great blog this thanks for share it

  • Great to know the main difference between saas solution and cloud. Thanks for sharing.

  • The given discussion thread is indeed informative and as an order & inventory management system provider, its very halpful for me too. I hope you will keep to update with latest infos.

  • SaaS is a type of cloud computing, the main difference between SaaS and cloud computing is control.

  • Saas is offering of Cloud, use any application with help of web.


  • SaaS is often better suited for smaller operations that need inexpensive solutions for business needs. Cloud computing, on the other hand, makes more sense for larger firms that have more resources and also require or want more control of sensitive data and can better afford the cost for this type of infrastructure.
    migrating to the cloud

  • Im running my recently acquired unit ( http://www.spectra.com/EMC/used-system/171/index.htm ) and I am sure i need these info. Thanks for coming up in this discussion. I should study more application for me.

  • Saas is basically a deal between software license provider and the user on the subscription basis while the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. For more information visit here:- https://www.binadox.com/

  • Cloud computing and SaaS are different terms, but they are closely related, and that’s why many people are confused. In our article about the most popular IT trends we have explained that the aim of cloud computing is to optimize customers’ experience by synchronizing all sorts of application modes and content as well as delivering such apps across various devices. Some of its main advantages are that its flexible (it’s easy to scale up cloud capacity), there are automatic software updates, It gives people the opportunity to work from wherever they want as long as their computer or mobile device is connected to the Internet. Another great advantage is its security – due to the fact that your data is stored in the cloud, you can access it even if, let’s say, you’ve lost your laptop. Maybe the confusion between SaaS and Cloud computing comes from the fact that SaaS applications run “in the cloud,” but they are not the cloud itself.

  • These two technologies are related, they are not the same. SaaS is a type of cloud computing.

    With cloud computing, a user is able to customize and manage an application on a server that is hosted remotely by a third-party like AWS. You are given access to your data on those servers via the internet.

    With SaaS, the user no longer has to maintain either the physical servers or the cloud based software application. Instead, you pay a subscription to access an already developed software application via a web browser. You don’t have the responsibility of maintaining the software. You lose some control over the management and customization of the application.

  • These two technologies are related, they are not the same. SaaS is a type of cloud computing.

    With cloud computing, a user is able to customize and manage an application on a server that is hosted remotely by a third-party like AWS. You are given access to your data on those servers via the internet.

    With SaaS, the user no longer has to maintain either the physical servers or the cloud based software application. Instead, you pay a subscription to access an already developed software application via a web browser. You don’t have the responsibility of maintaining the software. You lose some control over the management and customization of the application.

  • SAAS is a software provided to an end user from a cloud environment.

Add a Reply

Recently Commented On

Monthly Archives