Platform, Software and Data as a Services?!

What are PaaS, SaaS and DaaS?

The IT industry loves acronomys and if you look for SaaS on the webpage you find many more definitions then you could every dream up.

The ‘as a Service’ category of software is getting a lot of attention with companies like SalesForce, Oracle (Siebel), Amazon, HP and Microsoft building strategies around the promise of cloud computing. Simply put ‘as a Service’ delivers services that are hosted, managed and maintained by the supplier rather then the user. More often then not the services are provided with a ‘pay-per-use’ model.

So Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings like Amazon EC2, SalesForce and Google App Engine all host a platform over the internet that allows customers to develop and deploy applications. The user does not have to worry about hardware, operating systems, application servers or databases but can use the platform and pay the provider to for its use.

Similar is the offering with Software as a Service (SaaS). Applications are available to end users through a web-browser over the internet. The supplier takes care of running the software and the customer simply pays for using the software. Increasingly applications that we are used to install on our own computers/service will become available as a Service. These include Siebel (Oracle), SAP ERP and even Microsoft Office.

An upcoming catergory are providers of Data as a Service (DaaS) who make data management available over the internet. Data as a Service may give asses to data providers like Chamber of Commerce, Experian, telephone directories and D&B but also provide functions like address validation or blacklist matching.

Peter Laird (Oracle) has created a comprehensive ‘SaaS tree’ that builds an overview of the ‘as a Service’ offerings out there.

SaaS Tree

SaaS Tree

Whether PaaS, SaaS or DaaS offerings can provide value to your organisation depends on many factors. Obvious advantages include its pricing model and low maintence cost. On the flip side you may find that the service is hard to fully customise to your needs and that the connecting ‘cloud services’ to your existing IT infrastructure can be a pain.

In any case the expectation of analyst, large vendors and many journalist is that ‘cloud computing’ will increasingly influence the IT industry.