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Impact - A Blog by INM

First SaaS, now PaaS

April 2, 2008 by Vahe Kassardjian

It was bound to happen. First we saw Software as a Service (SaaS), now we have Platforms as a Service (PaaS). SaaS’s refer to on-tap applications that are available on an as-needed basis. In the early days, many of these services were faceless and designed to be hidden behind other applications. These days, there is an increasing number of SaaS’s that have an embeddable user interface, with some even offering a configurability for users (through a preferences button, for example) or programmers (through parameters included in the initialization call, for example).

A PaaS is a programming or programmable environment presented as a rich Internet application (RIA). Bungee Connect is such an example. It looks like a MS Visual Studio reincarnated into an RIA and has a very strong leaning towards mashing up SaaS's. On the lighter side, you get something like Blist , a database management system meant for business users, not programmers. It strangely looks like what Filemaker should have become had it jumped the RIA curve. In the lower-level "enabling software" category you find Elastra, a database design and management environment that lives inAmazon's EC2/S3 environment. It directly competes against Oracle, MS SQL and MySQL type solutions, but with a different business model. It makes MySQL and Postgress available “on-tap” at a rate of 50 cents per server/hour under a hassle-free, no-install environment.

Other experimental projects include Yahoo! Pipes and Microsoft Popfly, but generally this trend means that, in hindsight, SaaS is not such a crazy idea after all. Compared to PaaS, SaaS suddenly sounds quite reasonable and conservative.