How does one distinguish between PaaS and SaaS?


I suppose the names themselves should provide the answer, but I still have trouble distinguishing between PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service). They are both cloud computing service models, and seem to offer similar applications. What am I missing?

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Hi stephenb,

Here's a pretty good background article that defines the various acronyms. It has a helpful graphic in it that I think will be of use to you.

Demystifying The Cloud: Where Do SaaS, PaaS and Other Acronyms Fit In?

"I’m sure we can all agree that the number of acronyms and phrases related to online software keeps growing rather than shrinking. In order to make sense of it, we really need to focus on understanding where different concepts fit in from a big picture perspective. For example, I am often asked if Apprenda’s SaaSGrid competes with Amazon’s EC2 or now with Microsoft’s Azure. For any long time readers, I wrote a taxonomy article a while back that distilled SaaS Platforms (which have materialized under the PaaS banner as of late) a bit beyond the generalized SaaS platform moniker. Similarly, I think the same is required of the current ‘cloud’ market space, although a bit more high level. Robert Anderson had a good post a little while back that distilled some of this, as did Peter Laird via a follow up to Anderson’s post. Despite the quality of these posts and and their approaches to this taxonomy problem, I think the issue requires a touch more refinement and clarity.

The reason this is important to me is because I hear a variety of cloud oriented acronyms and words tossed about with little regard to what they mean, what their relationships are to each other, and how they bring deliver value to varying market constituents. To start off, let’s rattle off a short list of things to address: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Now, for a snapshot of definitions (and a bunch of very good links that I recommend everyone follow, despite how trivial the term may seem):"

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SaaS is software that is deployed on a hosted service and can be accessed globally over the internet through a browser.  The user only interacts with the SOFTWARE.


PaaS is best understood in the context of an environment where a developer is able to create solutions using the development tools that are provided on the PLATFORM.


Essentially, SaaS is a cloud computing model that is offered by a vendor providing the equivalent of the software that you can buy off the shelf, while the PaaS model allows customers to enter and retrieve data, perform actions, customize the platform involved and get results.


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PaaS - will offer Platforms - in simple Operating Systems where other softwares and applications are run locally and virtually

SaaS - will offer Softwares and Applications - in simple Softwares where you can access them via web browser or VPN connections.



Sandeep Seeram

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