Companies, systems, products: Cloud computing networks everything with everything to make megatrends like the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 possible. As demand rises, so does the number of offers – and it's easy to lose track of what's out there. Here's a simple overview.
With technological progress moving as fast as it has in the past several years, the trade press and marketing departments can barely keep up with all the new terms being coined. The language of IT is bursting past its boundaries on every side. When it comes to SaaS and cloud computing in particular, a Babel-like confusion often seems to reign.
What the various terms mean is not just a question of theoretical interest, but has real-life impacts. Only those who understand the differences can correctly interpret what providers have to offer, and find the best solutions for their companies.
Differences between the cloud and SaaS
Is cloud computing the same thing as software as a service (SaaS)? It can almost seem that way, as the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. Many talk about SaaS when they mean cloud, and vice versa. And there are further distinctions to muddy the waters: public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud... differences that are not as unimportant as they might at first seem.
What is cloud computing?
Simply stated: in cloud computing, the internet replaces your fixed computer. Providers make hardware, software and data available to you via the internet. The actual processes run in data centers that might be located on the other side of the globe. Your own computer is nothing more than a control unit from which you access the data and applications made available in the cloud. But what is so great about outsourcing your computing? Doesn't that mean giving up control? Exactly. And for most companies that makes perfect sense.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
When you use cloud computing, you are spared the need to build and administer your own IT infrastructure. You don't have to set up backups, muck around with coding or correct malfunctions. And new versions and updates are automatically installed. Your provider takes care of all that from afar. You can upload your data to cloud storage, and then access it, using a browser from anywhere at all – and you can run software online as well. Which brings us to SaaS.
What is software as a service (SaaS)?
SaaS is a subset of cloud computing – the software piece. Hence the name. You use software via a browser from any internet-enabled device, and the files that are generated are stored online. Your computer is nothing but a gateway.
There is no need for a user license; instead you pay a monthly or annual fee.
What is a "cloud application"?
A cloud application is the same thing as a SaaS application: software that you can use online and "on demand". But some providers also call on-premise software that is made available online, a cloud application – so take a close look.
Cloud computing is the blanket term. It includes the entire online offer of hardware and infrastructure as well as software. SaaS is a subset of cloud computing – the software piece.
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