Demystifying Buzzwords: SaaS and The Cloud

In recent years, the terms “SaaS”, “Cloud” and other forms of jargon have entered the mainstream technology lexicon. Like a lot of buzzwords, though, sometimes the actual meaning can get confused, obscured by the process of commonization. These days, it seems that everyone has a cousin, nephew, or colleague who is working on a SaaS app of their own. But what are they exactly?

SaaS (Software as a Service)

According to Wikipedia:

Software as a service, sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”, is a software delivery model in which software and associated data are centrally hosted on the cloud. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.

In short, SaaS is software that runs somewhere else, usually a centralized server on the Internet. You interact with the software utilizing, typically, a web browser running front-end web page code (e.g. HTML/CSS/JavaScript). There is nothing to “install” (other than a web browser), and nothing to maintain. All software updates and maintenance happen on the centralized server, often totally transparent to the end users. In recent years SaaS software has absolutely exploded, and there are several reasons for this. First off, web browsers have become far more robust and adept at running front-end web page code. Second, several technologies have been developed that make the development of SaaS software much easier. From software frameworks (e.g. Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Bootstrap, ASP.NET MVC, etc.), to robust Integrated Development Environments, to server functions (e.g. SCSS, Gems, Mongo DB, etc.) it is easier than ever to not only build SaaS software but also host and maintain it. Third, SaaS applications require less up-front investment; instead customers pay for the software over time. Add all of this with steadily increasing Internet bandwidth and connectivity, and you have the ideal environment for SaaS software to flourish. SaaS software is developed in a unique way, compared to traditional desktop software. For one thing, multiple tools are typically used to build the software. With the abundance of open-source tools and resources available, many new pieces of software are built using pieces of already existing software. And, if this original software was open source, quite often the new software becomes open source too, setting itself up to be a possible component in other future projects. Often, though, SaaS software solutions are built to be sold, either to a single end-client or to be marketed and sold to individual users. Here at Surge, we have been building SaaS solutions for over 12 years, and during that time, as one could imagine, we have learned a tremendous amount about what works, what doesn’t, and what it takes to build something truly exceptional. Case in point, many SaaS developers suffer with issues surrounding multi-tenancy. Basically speaking, multi-tenancy refers to software that runs as a single instance but serves multiple distinct users, keeping all data separate. This allows a single web app to serve multiple customers, across multiple distinct user groups. At Surge, we even have out-of-the box code that solves many common challenges, such as multi-tenancy. From working with SaaS solutions for so many years, we have solved countless problems, often developing innovative solutions in the process.

The Cloud

Although the buzzword “SaaS” gets thrown around a lot, “The Cloud” gets thrown around even more. Often, it seems, that “The Cloud” has become a generic term for anything on the Internet. Technically speaking, though, “The Cloud” refers to computing resources (e.g. hardware and software) that are delivered via a network (most often, The Internet). In practical terms, most often, the term “Cloud” refers to highly-robust computing platforms that provide processing and storage which is interacted with over The Internet. The Cloud and SaaS are commonly used in the same sentence. It is true, that SaaS software is usually hosted/run-from The Cloud. However, Cloud Apps are not necessarily SaaS apps. One has to do with where/how an app runs, and the other is how server resources are structured, configured, and connected to you.

SaaS and The Cloud Are What We Do

Surge has a long history of developing and delivering SaaS and Cloud solutions. From designing the back-end architecture of enterprise apps, to building SaaS applications, to mobile and desktop software development, Surge has the expertise and experience to build even the most complex software products. Have a SaaS or Cloud-Computing project in mind? We would love to help you build it. Contact us today and see how Surge can help bring your software idea to life.
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