What is Software as a Service and how is it different to On-Prem, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Pizza as a Service

When you are making the move to the cloud, you should be ensuring you head towards something called Software as a Service (SaaS). There are a lot of similar terms out there, and the aim of this blog is to de-fog the ‘as-a-service terms’ and explain why your goal for moving to the cloud should be Software as a Service. 

The other ‘as a Service’ terms often muddy the idea and process of a business transitioning to the cloud.  

On premises refers to completely self-hosted and can be thought of as ‘my servers in my data center’ or in the room down the hall. There’s a general push away from that but the confusion lies in where people are going with the term ‘self-hosted’.  

Before we talk more about the ‘self-hosted’ issues, there are a few more terms that you should know about. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and of course, Software as a Service (SaaS). See below for diagrams to help put these into context in a ‘learner friendly’ way. 

As for the techie meanings, here are the definitions of these ‘as a Service’ terms: 

What is Software as a Service? 

This is a cloud-based service where instead of downloading software to your desktop PC, you access an application via an internet browser or with modern apps. These tools/services are licensed on a subscription basis and are centrally hosted, so otherwise known as ‘on-demand software.’ Think of Netflix, a SaaS company that sells a service to watch licensed shows on demand following a subscription-based model where the subscription is selected by the user. 

What is Infrastructure as a Service?  

This is a form of cloud computing that delivers fundamental compute, network and storage resources to consumers on demand on a pay-as you-go basis. This format allows end users to scale resources on an as-needed basis, reducing the need for unnecessary ‘owned’ infrastructure, especially in the case of ‘spiky’ workloads. However, these systems typically are not ‘open’ like SaaS and do not allow for connectivity to other services to truly embrace modern technology methods and processes. 

What is Platform as a Service? 

A cloud computing model where a third-party provider delivers hardware and software tools over the Internet. This provides you with computing platforms which normally includes operating systems, programming language execution environment, database, web server and more! Examples of Platform as a Service include Google App Engine, Windows Azure and AWS Elastic Beanstalk. Many of these systems also typically are not ‘open’ like SaaS and do not allow for connectivity to other services to truly embrace modern technology methods and processes. 

What does On Premises mean? 

This is the traditional model of software that is installed and runs on computers on the premises of the person or organization using the software, rather than a remote facility. In other words, On Premises is a solution hosted in-house and supported by a third-party on the premises of the person or organization using the software, rather than a remote facility such as a server farm. On Premises software is often also referred to as ‘shrinkwrap’ software. You manage, pay and support everything yourself including keeping expertise on hand to do it. 

What is Pizza as a Service & how does it related to Software as a Servoce? 

There is a helpful analogy of ‘Pizza as a Service’ and the different ways that you can get and enjoy pizza. This is a clever way of explaining the various ‘As a Service’ terms. If you think of making a pizza at home, you use your oven, utilize the table, have your tomato sauce – that is on premises meaning everything is on site. 

Infrastructure as a Service is like your take and bake oven pizza. You go to the grocery store, buy a frozen pizza and most of the ingredients are in there. You still must take this frozen pizza to the oven and pour yourself a drink, but the infrastructure is already there and working. 

Platform as a Service is like your pizza delivery, calling Pizza Hut and your pizza is delivered to your house, ready cut. 

So, software as a Service is effectively going to Pizza Hut or your favourite pizza place and being served that pizza – you can even order it by the slice instead of the whole pizza! What is great about Software as a Service is that it is easy, quick and it is available in a lot of places and choices. 

This analogy above of Software as a Service being the quick and easy solution is why we think you should choose Software as a Service when moving to the cloud – it is the ultimate goal and where all trends are heading. You are looking for single sign-in, things that are truly web based and web created and integrate with all sorts of other services that are likeminded. There are many vendors selling systems such as business, inventory and accounting systems that are implying that they are cloud based but what they are doing is just taking their old software and your data, putting it on servers that they host and giving you a fixed monthly fee. This is not true cloud based and often is quite misleading (and entrapping) – this is just moving your data into someone else’s data center and making it no longer a ‘me problem’. They still control your data, make it difficult to connect to other systems and this should not be your goal. 

In conclusion, what we are trying to say is that Software as a Service is the solution that you are aiming for. It is available in a lot of places, quick and easy – making your cloud experience a great transition experience.  

At Regroove, we consider ourselves to be cloud specialists and take pride in offering a quick, easy and knowledgeable transition to the cloud for our clients across Canada. Looking to hear all of the above explained? Be sure to watch the explainer video here.

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