Lately, the question has come up asking about the differences between Software as a Service and virtualization. I suspect this is because virtualization comes up a lot in the same conversations, but let’s be clear, they are different.
To keep it simple, let just think of SaaS as delivering a fully baked, turnkey service of value to the customer and think of virtualization as simply a way to get more out of existing server hardware.
Virtualization has been around for a while helping us squeeze more application out of the physical resources. Virtualization does this by using the unused CPU cycles of the physical hardware to run additional independent “virtual” servers. So one server that would normally have a single operating system and a particular set of applications that only uses a fraction of the total memory and CPU of the server can now run two or three and sometime more servers with additional sets of applications thereby using a greater portion of the memory and CPU cycles of the existing machine. This way, the datacenter has fewer servers, using less electricity, but still producing the same effective application output. Software as a Service may utilize virtualization as part of the architecture underneath the delivery of the solution.
One of the nice benefits of SaaS is that the customer doesn’t have to manage all of the nitty gritty details of the servers and hardware necessary to provide the valuable service, they just subscribe to it and let someone else manage the hardware details. SaaS providers like inContact worry about virtualization to make sure that we are utilizing our resources wisely, and providing a service in a cost-effective way. Customers only need to worry about getting the value out of SaaS products like inContact.
So this means there is “virtually” one last thing for you to worry about. Let SaaS worry about virtualization, so that you can concentrate on your business.
If you have more to add to the conversation, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.