In honor of this auspicious (and delicious) occasion, I’d like to order up the analogy of Pizza as a Service (PaaS), first concocted by Enterprise Architect and Thought Leader Albert Barron in a LinkedIn post. He talked about the different ways one can enjoy pizza and likened it to Software as a Service (SaaS), detailing what effort pizza eaters (and software users) have to contribute with each method.
Here are some of Barron’s thoughts, to which I’ve added some extra pepperoni, if you will …
Make at Home
You can make a pizza at home, where you’re responsible for buying all of the ingredients, making the dough, and providing the dining table, plates, utensils, drinks, oven, etc.
Homemade pizza is like on-premise software. Because with on-prem, you first have to have the infrastructure, then someone has to physically install the software and maintain it. It’s very hands-on and requires a great deal of effort from you – the user – and virtually no effort on the vendor’s part.
Take and Bake
You can purchase a pizza to take home and bake. The shop provides the dough, sauce, toppings, and cheese, while you provide the dining table, plates, utensils, drinks, and oven.
This style is analogous to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS); because, in this case, you and the vendor pretty squarely share responsibilities. The cloud provider hosts the infrastructure, such as servers, storage, and hardware. The user maintains the operating systems and the application software.
You can have pizza delivered to your home – you get what you need, only supplying the dining table, plates, utensils, and drinks.
This method is much like Platform as a Service (PaaS), which allows customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the hassle of building and maintaining the infrastructure. You may not have as much control over what you buy, but it’s certainly easier, more convenient.
You can simply load up the fam and head out to your local pizza establishment, where they’ll supply the parking, wait staff, dining table, pizza, drinks – the whole shebang. To continue our analogy, this equates to Software as a Service (SaaS), because you get exactly what you want, and the service provider does everything for you.
Now, here’s the most important piece of the pie: Just because you can make a good pizza at home from scratch DOES NOT mean you can operate a successful pizza restaurant. Because it’s not just about the food. For example, maybe the restaurant’s parking lot is dark and sketchy, or the place has a funky smell, or the service is lousy, or the ambiance, tasteless. It’s really about the whole experience.
Similarly, just because a company provides onsite software, doesn’t necessarily mean it can easily switch to providing software in the cloud. It’s not just about the code that’s running. SaaS vendors provide the total guest experience – from servers to storage, from health monitoring and maintenance to patches and upgrades. The user just pulls up a chair and logs into the system.
A couple of extra toppings to keep in mind:
SaaS providers have to earn a customer’s business every single month – month after month. Consequently, quality customer support is paramount – before, during, and after the sale.
In addition, with a SaaS provider, there’s a single point of accountability. If something goes wrong in an on-premise situation, the on-prem software provider can say it’s a server problem … and vise versa. Meanwhile, the system is down. It’s much more challenging for a SaaS provider to play the blame game, than when there are multiple parties involved.
Last, but certainly not least, is cybersecurity. When the software is onsite, it’s the user’s responsibility to maintain the safety and security of the system and the data it contains. With a SaaS product, the vendor is solely responsible for keeping their system protected from cyber criminals.
I hope this blog post gives you the appetite to explore Software as a Service more in-depth, and to grab yourself a pizza for dinner.