What is the Difference Between Cloud Hosting, Cloud Computing and SaaS?
There are many cloud-related terms bandied around on the internet and the differences between some of them are, on the face of it, quite subtle and often confusing. Cloud hosting, cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) are just three. Why do you need to understand the differences? For one thing, if you want to start your own cloud business and want first class hosting, you need to know exactly what your provider is offering which will help you to identify if it really is the superior network service you’re looking for. After all, networks are at the heart of the cloud. And the cloud is a hot topic in the news. For instance, according to IT News, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that the number of Australian businesses using commercial cloud computing services rose from 19 percent to almost one-third in 2017.
In addition, if you want to start your own cloud business, you’re going to need to understand these terms and then find a cloud host that offers superior software, superior hardware and a superior network service, in other words, an all-around first class hosting solution.
Let’s start by recapping what is the cloud and then we’ll look at the difference between cloud hosting, cloud computing and SaaS.
The cloud refers to the storage of and access to data and software over the internet instead of on your computer's hard drive, via a network of servers that can be located pretty much anywhere. It is, to all intents and purposes and at the simplest level, the internet, or at least a metaphor for it. If you subscribe to social media, log on to the internet to access your email or make use of storage applications like Dropbox, you’ve worked in the cloud. A nice succinct definition for the cloud is “shared, pooled resources”.
Kevin Fogarty, ITworld, did some research about when the term was first introduced. He believes a Search Engine Strategies conference in 2006 in which Google's Eric Schmidt's reference to Google services as belonging "in a cloud somewhere," introduced the term into common use.
However, others lay claim to introducing the concept. The idea of an "intergalactic computer network" was introduced in the sixties by J.C.R. Licklider, who was responsible for enabling the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in 1969.
A little more lyrically, in an article titled “Clouds: The Most Useful Metaphor of All Time?”, Rebecca J. Rosen said: "As far as it relates to computers, the term "cloud" dates back to early network design when engineers would map out all the various components of their networks, but then loosely sketch the unknown networks (like the internet) theirs was hooked in. What does a rough blob of undefined nodes look like? A cloud. And, helpfully, clouds are something that takes little skill to draw. It's a squiggly line formed into a rough ellipse. Over time, clouds were adopted as the stand-in image for the part of a computer or telephone network outside one's own.”
Cloud services are big business
It’s not just at the enterprise level. Home users are increasingly using cloud services. For example, before the popularisation of the modern cloud, we accessed software like Microsoft Office on our laptops and PCs. This software is being gradually replaced by a SaaS application, Office 365, which includes subscription plans that allow access to Office applications plus other productivity services that are enabled over the internet (cloud services). Non-subscription versions of MS Office will still be released in the future, but it appears that Microsoft is keen to plug its cloud-based service. Reported in ComputerWorld, Microsoft said that when it turns a customer into a subscriber, it gets 1.2 to 1.8 times the revenue compared to old-school licensing.
But, what about the customers? Are they saving? MakeUseOf did the maths and concluded that if you only need Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Office 365 is the best value for one year and Microsoft Office 2016 Home & Student is the best value for five or 10 years.
- Cloud computing — The delivery of computing services and provision of pooled resources —servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and more—over the internet. According to the official NIST definition, there are five essential characteristics of cloud computing: on-demand self-service provisioning of resources, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. It is the platform on which SaaS is situated.
- Cloud Service Provider (CSP) — Company that offers a cloud computing service, such as PaaS, IaaS, or SaaS, to individuals or other businesses. Cloud-based is a term that references applications, services or resources made available to users on demand via the Internet from a cloud computing provider's servers.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) — A model of cloud computing in which applications (software) are hosted by a vendor and provided to the user as a service. SaaS applications are licensed on a subscription basis and are made available to users over a network, typically the internet. They are software applications that you run that are not located on your premises or own machine. SaaS applications are ones that run in the cloud, but they are not the cloud. SaaS applications are end-user applications while cloud computing refers to the gamut of infrastructural computing services that you can rent. Office tools like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs are SaaS applications that USE cloud computing. It’s often referred to as a distributed delivery approach for a software application because it includes functionality to administer the software (e.g. billing and licensing), so it’s not just a shared resource but a fully-formed entity in its own right.
- Cloud hosting — Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud delivery model that provides a suite of remote/virtual services. A cloud server is a virtual server (rather than a physical server) running in a cloud computing environment. These servers are spread across multiple racks, server farms and data centres, often around the world. What this means is that if you live in America, you can sign up with a host in Australia ... they may well offer a superior hosting service! With the advent of the cloud, your options are unlimited!
- Cloud services — Any service made available to users on demand via the internet from a cloud provider's servers as opposed to being provided from a company’s on-premises servers.
The nitty-gritty difference
The difference between cloud hosting and cloud computing is subtle:
- Cloud computing is a way of providing pooled (or shared) resources in a self-service, on-demand fashion. You could do this on-premise (e.g. by having a room full of your own servers running different applications, storing and sharing company data, and offering network resources to clients). Example of cloud computing provider: Gmail.
- Alternatively, you can pass the headaches of maintaining your network to a cloud host. Cloud hosting is a SUBSET of cloud computing that let you virtually set up technologies and services such as servers, web apps, databases storage, virtual networks and more. Cloud hosting is analogous to web hosting. Cloud computing is the set of technologies that powers cloud hosting. Example of cloud host: Amazon.
- SaaS refers to software that you run that isn’t located on your premises. It is a full-blown application as opposed to being a component of something else. Instead of running it in your data centre like an on-premise solution, it runs in a vendor’s data centre. Example of SaaS application: Netflix.
Why cloud hosting?
- The reliability associated with a high-tech superior network, and hardware managed by cloud computing experts.
- Physical security and regular backups.
- Scalability and flexibility.
- Reduced operating costs.
- Responsive load balancing.
- Access to the latest technologies and regular updates with superior software.
Where to next?
Localnode is a cloud host that provides first class hosting for its clients, offering shared and reseller hosting options:
- Ease of use: WHM/cPanel is guaranteed to make administration of your hosting accounts simple, efficient and cost-effective.
- Reliable hardware: Supermicro, Intel and Kingston are just some of the brands we use to ensure our hardware is built to perform.
- 24/7 personalised customer care.
- 9% uptime guarantee.
- Superior hardware-based RAID protection.