SaaS vs. PaaS – What’s the Difference?

You may have heard the abbreviation before, but do you know what “SaaS” is? Maybe you’re not even sure what “SaaS” stands for.

Furthermore, do you know what “PaaS” is? What are the differences between PaaS and SaaS?

You might know a little about it already – it’s a piece of software that uses something called “the cloud.”

But do you know what that is? Maybe you’ve asked yourself, “What is the cloud?”

In this blog post, you’ll learn:

        What the cloud really is.

        What SaaS is – and its pros and cons.

        What PaaS is – and its pros and cons.

        Which is the better choice for you.

What is the cloud?

cloud computing image
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

First thing’s first – before we talk about SaaS, we need to talk about the cloud.

SaaS and PaaS are both “cloud-based software” – i.e., both utilize the cloud. But what is the cloud, anyway?

In simple terms, the cloud refers to a set of remote servers that can be accessed online. These servers allow the software to run on the Internet, provided that:

        You have a connection to the Internet.

        The provider’s remote servers are powered on and running.

Some advantages of using cloud computing include cost savings, mobile access, and faster system recovery in the event of, e.g., a sudden power outage.

SaaS – Software as a Service

As the name might suggest, SaaS is software and a platform that is available over the internet.  All you need to do to access the service is log in to your account for the service.

No installation is required.

Examples of SaaS services include Dropbox, Netflix, and JIRA.

Advantages of SaaS

Easy to Set Up and Highly Scalable

Since you don’t need to download and install the software, one of SaaS’s most significant benefits is that it’s easy to deploy to an entire team.

This makes it especially useful for global teams who work in multiple locations.

Also, as long as you have an internet connection, you can typically use the software on any device.

Continuous Support

Typically, SaaS will offer a monthly or annual subscription fee. The subscription fee includes maintenance, security services, and upgrades.

Henceforth, if you need to upgrade to a new version, you don’t need to pay just for the privilege of doing so.

Disadvantages of SaaS

Requires an Internet Connection


Remember, this service is Internet-based. Therefore, its Achilles’ heel is in the connection. If you lose your connection to the Internet, you’ll also lose your access to the software.

But even worse, if the provider should lose power, you can’t access the software either. 

For example, let’s say that the power goes out for the SaaS provider. They can’t power the servers that power the cloud.

Because they can’t provide power to the cloud, you won’t be able to access the software either, even if you’ve got a reliable Internet connection.

Security and Confidentiality Concerns


Even though the application itself is secured, your data itself may not be. Since the SaaS provider stores your data on their servers, security might be a concern, especially if your data is sensitive.


To protect yourself from any data breaches, you need to know when the provider will inform you in the event of a data breach.

It’s also vital that you read the Service Level Agreement (SLA) carefully. It’s your data – you need to ensure it’s in good hands.

PaaS – Platform as a Service

Unlike their SaaS counterparts, PaaS will give your developers and IT administrators plenty of control over the infrastructure. Essentially, you’ll get a foundation on which you can build products of your own.

Examples of PaaS include Heroku, OpenShift, and Apache Stratos.

Advantages of PaaS

Convenient and Low-Cost 

Since creating applications from scratch can be expensive, both in terms of money and time,  PaaS is a viable option if your company has limited financial resources.

Since you pay for these services on a pay-per-use basis, you can save expenses on having on-premise servers and software.

Great for Software Development

If you’re looking for a software development platform, PaaS is ideal.

In addition to storage infrastructure, PaaS products often provide version management and code compilers to help your developers create code in a more time-efficient manner.

Disadvantages of PaaS

Outages and Internal Changes

Similar to SaaS, if the provider has a power outage or hardware issue (e.g., one of their servers break down), the software will be unavailable to everyone. 

It’s also important to remember that since the PaaS provider provides the platform, they can make changes to it as they see fit. 

For example, a PaaS provider might eliminate previous support of a development tool or an entire coding language.

If this happens, this might impact your software development process.

Vendor Lock-In

Picture this: You’re paying for a product or service from Provider A.

However, after shopping around, you discover that Provider B offers a much better service and a much more affordable price.

However, you then realize that switching to Provider B is far more expensive than it’s worth.

Maybe Provider A also offers an exclusive tool or service that you can’t use anymore if you switch to Provider B.

The data migration from one PaaS product to another isn’t as easy as it might seem. Henceforth, you’re stuck with the inferior quality and service of Provider A.

This scenario is called “vendor lock-in” – a situation where the cost of switching providers is so high that you have no other choice but to stay with the original provider.

Which one do I choose?

The easiest way to determine whether to use SaaS or PaaS is to have a clear idea of what you want. 

Do you want an application that you can run reliably without needing much input from you? If your answer is “yes,” go with SaaS.

Do you want a platform you can use for building an entirely new product? If your answer is “yes,” then go with PaaS.

Struggling to explain your technical product or service as straightforward as this blog post? Would you like to get rid of the confusing fluff and jargon in favor of something that will make your readers go, “Oh, I get it now!” after they’ve read it? Then, contact me today, and let’s talk some more.