Differentiating Cloud Computing Services


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Differentiate between the three cloud computing services
  • Map SAP products to computing services

Cloud Computing Services

Computing Services: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS

There are three primary computing services: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Software as a Service (SaaS) is when a cloud provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers to use over the internet. SaaS software is designed to facilitate customers accomplishing specific end-to-end activities. The process flows defining who is responsible for each task and which apps to use to accomplish different tasks are already built in the system. A customer runs their data through the defined processes, similar to how water in a river follows the path that's been carved into the surrounding landscape. Customers can access SaaS applications from their web browser, and the SaaS provider is constantly developing new enhancements and features with the latest technology. For SAP's public cloud SaaS solutions, we install upgrades on a regular schedule in all customer systems. For our SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition solution, we handle the technical upgrade activities, but let each customer individually decide when they are ready for an upgrade to be installed (with an upgrade being mandatory at least once every 5 years).

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is when a cloud provider hosts a development platform on its own infrastructure and makes the platform and services that run on the platform available to customers over the internet. This is not a SaaS solution with defined process flows, but a development space where a customer subscribes to a specific service and uses the development tools available to create something using that service. For example, if I want to design a mobile app that consumes data from my SaaS solution and can run on iOS and Android devices, I would subscribe to a service that supports mobile app development. Within the service, I can develop, configure, and manage my new mobile application. Another consideration is how the mobile app consumes data from my SaaS solution, and whether or not the app has the ability to update certain fields directly in my SaaS solution. To make sure the app can consume and send data, I would also need to subscribe to an integration service to develop and run a custom integration. The primary users of a PaaS are developers who choose which services to subscribe to and access the PaaS over the internet.

An Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is when a cloud provider hosts servers, storage, and/or other virtual computing resources, and makes them available to customers to consume over the internet. This is beneficial, because a customer can "rent" access to a server on a pay-per-use basis and avoid the expensive up-front cost of purchasing physical hardware and the technical knowledge required to set it up. For example, if I have thousands of pictures that take up too much space on a laptop hard drive, I could subscribe to a document storage service like iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, or others and upload all my photos there. The IaaS provider is delivering a storage service that runs on their servers. They host the infrastructure and handle tasks like system maintenance and backups so customers don't have to.

SAP Products Mapped to Computing Services

SAP Solutions Mapped to Computing Services

Let's take a look at how different SAP solutions map to the three computing services: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS:

Some of SAP's SaaS solutions are:

  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to support customers in managing their core business activities across the areas of Finance, Sourcing and Procurement, Sales, Professional Services, R&D Engineering, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Transportation Management, and Warehouse Management. SAP S/4HANA is the solution, and it can be deployed in a public cloud, a private cloud, or on premise.
  • SAP SuccessFactors is Human Capital Management (HCM) software to support customers in managing their people from the day an employee is recruited, hired and onboarded to the day they retire and are offboarded. This includes a suite of products to address core HR activities (Employee Central), performance and goal management, learning, onboarding and offboarding, performance-based variable pay and compensation, and workforce analytics.
  • SAP Fieldglass is a Vendor Management System (VMS) that helps companies find, engage, and manage external contract workers. While a small volume of contingent employees can be managed within SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP Fieldglass is especially beneficial if an organization needs to select, onboard, pay, and offboard a large volume of employees working short to mid-term contracts. For example, a large retailer staffing up for the holiday season.
  • SAP Ariba is a marketplace for business-to-business transactions (sourcing and procuring materials and/or services). SAP Ariba runs the Ariba Network where buyers and suppliers can find each other, do business, and integrate the data with the core ERP system.
  • SAP Concur is a travel, expense, and invoice management solution that simplifies and automates spending processes. For example, use SAP Concur to schedule a flight, hotel, and rental car for a business trip and bill the expense to your cost center. After the trip, submit your expense report following the guidelines and restrictions set by your organization within Concur to get reimbursed.
  • SAP Customer Experience (CX) is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to support businesses in managing and maintaining the relationship with their customers. A suite of products within CX cover the lifecycle of the customer relationship, including gaining and retaining customers through marketing activities, selling products or services through an e-commerce platform, managing and forecasting sales demand, delivering services to customers, and ethically collecting and protecting customer data.
SAP has the largest portfolio of cloud SaaS software in the world - these are only a few examples. Find the complete list of solutions here. This includes solutions like SAP Signavio, SAP Business Network, SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Integrated Business Planning, and many others.

SAP's PaaS solution is the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), which enables developers to develop, host, and run applications, integrations, databases, and other technical solutions. For example, build a custom application to solve a business challenge and securely integrate the app into existing cloud or on premise applications. There are over 90 different services available on SAP BTP that can be used to enhance and extend SAP and non-SAP applications. Find the complete list of services in the SAP Discovery Center.

SAP's managed IaaS solution is SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC), which is a single-tenant private cloud that can be used to host different SAP applications. When a customer purchases the private cloud deployment of SAP S/4HANA (SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition), it's actually the SAP S/4HANA on premise software hosted in SAP HEC. We call HEC a "managed" IaaS, because it's specifically designed to host SAP applications and we deliver a variety of technical maintenance and management services for those SAP applications to customers. With HEC, customers have the system access and control typical for on premise software in addition to a large menu of managed services SAP delivers by default, and other optional services SAP can deliver for a fee. The services covered by default and optional services are described in the documentation for the specific software solution on the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Documentation site. Customers can bring their own (already licensed) SAP applications into HEC or purchase a new solution and host it there. HEC managed services include backups, patching, provisioning and upgrades, restore and recovery, and infrastructure monitoring and event detection in a private cloud environment. Customers can also choose where HEC is installed - an SAP data center or a data center of one of our hyperscaler partners including Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and others. See the full list of hyperscaler providers here.

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