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What Is the Difference between SaaS and Cloud Computing?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing are similar computing concepts. Both eliminate program installation, can run on many machines — even if they are different platforms — and allow users to easily migrate from one program to another. Data backup is a small difference between SaaS and cloud computing, because SaaS does not automatically backup information, but this is not what really separates the two. The main difference between SaaS and cloud computing is control, because the user does not control the SaaS server, but he or she does control the cloud server.

Both SaaS and cloud computing are designed to give users access to software without having to install that software. This is because the software program is accessed via the Internet. When a user goes online, he or she accesses the SaaS or cloud server, pulls up the program, and uses it as if it were installed on his or her computer. In this sense, SaaS and cloud are the same.

Another similarity is found in migrating from one computer to another. Normally, when someone switches from one computer to another, that computer may not have the same software installed on it. With these types of computing, it does not matter if the computer is an older model, different brand, or even if it does not have the program installed. Nearly all computers in 2011 have Internet access, so the user can still access the programs online.

Many times, when a business is marketing cloud, it is really selling SaaS. This is because many people do not understand the difference between SaaS and cloud computing, and "cloud computing" has become a marketing buzzword that consumers recognize, whereas SaaS is more for the business sector. While there are major similarities between the two systems, there are some differences.

Backing up data is the first small difference between SaaS and cloud computing. With SaaS, a backup schedule has to be in place, or a backup has to be performed manually by the user or administrator. Cloud computing will backup all information automatically, so even forgetful users will not lose important information.

The main difference between SaaS and cloud computing is control. Programs are accessed via the Internet, so a server has to be used to hold the programs. In the SaaS schema, a separate company controls the server, which means it can cancel service, or it can mine data in the server without the user’s consent. Cloud computing puts the user in control, because he or she owns the server space and no one can legally touch or tamper with the information.

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