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The top 20 SaaS and cloud computing buzzwords

Use our guide to get the top Software as a Service (SaaS), on demand CRM and cloud computing buzzwords. Understand what the difference is between SaaS and cloud computing. Learn more about how both technologies affect CRM and what they mean for customer service. Get resources on related technologies, like Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

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Table of Contents

The top 20 SaaS and cloud computing buzzwords
1.

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Software as a Service (SaaS)
2. Cloud computing
3. Ajax
4. Apex
5. Application integration
6. Application programming interface (API)
7. Cloud backup
8. Hybrid cloud
9. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
10. Integration connector
11. Multi-tenancy
12. On-demand CRM
13. Platform as a Service
14. Private cloud
15. Public cloud
16. Remote access
17. SaaS ERP
18. Single tenancy
19. SOA
20. Web services
 

 Software as a Service (SaaS): Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet.

SaaS is closely related to application service providers (ASPs) and on-demand computing delivery models. ASP refers to a company that offers individuals or enterprises access over the Internet to applications and related services that would otherwise have to be located in their own personal or enterprise computers. On-demand computing refers to an enterprise model in which computing resources are made available to the user as needed. The resources may be maintained within the user's enterprise or made available by a service provider.

SaaS is also related to hosted CRM, an arrangement in which a company outsources some or all of its CRM functions to an ASP. The hosted CRM model is said to increase ROI by decreasing costs and allowing a company to focus more resources on its main business areas.

 Cloud computing: Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). The term "cloud computing" was inspired by the cloud symbol that's often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.

A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic -- users can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access). Significant innovations in virtualization and distributed computing, as well as improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.

 Ajax: Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a method of building interactive applications for the Web that process user requests immediately. Ajax combines several programming tools including JavaScript, Dynamic HTML (DHTML), Extensible Markup Language (XML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the Document Object Model (DOM), and the Microsoft object XMLHttpRequest. Ajax allows content on webpages to update immediately when a user performs an action, unlike an HTTP request, during which users must wait for a whole new page to load. Ajax is not a proprietary technology or a packaged product. Web developers have been using JavaScript and XML in combination for several years.

 Apex: Apex is a development platform offered by Salesforce.com for building third-party SaaS applications on top of Salesforce.com's CRM functionality. Apex applications are hosted by Salesforce.com and include an API that developers can use to access data from Salesforce.com, a Builder that allows for easy customization, and a native programming language called Apex Code.

 Application integration: Application integration (sometimes called enterprise application integration or EAI) is the process of bringing data or a function from one application program together with that of another application program. Where these programs already exist, the process is sometimes realized by using middleware, either packaged by a vendor or written on a custom basis. A common challenge for an enterprise is to integrate an existing (or legacy) program with a new program or with a Web service program of another company.

 Application programming interface (API): An application programming interface is a set of standards for a software program that can be defined by the developer. The API defines the way a developer should request services from a specific program and allows a programmer writing an application program to make requests of the operating system or other applications. Some SaaS CRM vendors have established APIs for integrating their applications with the user's in-house applications.

  • Read how customers are using API to create their own mash-ups.

 Cloud backup: Cloud backup, also known as online backup, is a strategy for backing up data that involves sending a copy of the data over a proprietary or public network to an off-site server. The server is usually hosted by a third-party service provider, which charges the backup customer a fee based on capacity, bandwidth or number of users. In the enterprise, the off-site server might be proprietary, but the chargeback method would be similar.

In the enterprise, cloud backup services are being used primarily for archiving non-critical data only. Traditional backup is a better solution for critical data that requires a short recovery time objective (RTO) because there are physical limits to how much data can be moved in a given amount of time over a network. When a large amount of data needs to be recovered, it may need to be shipped on tape or some other portable storage media.

 Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment in which an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally.

 Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is a provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it. The client typically pays on a per-use basis.

IaaS is one of three main categories of cloud computing service. The other two are Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). IaaS is sometimes referred to as Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

 Integration connector: This is a software program that lets users map data from one application to another. Many SaaS CRM vendors provide pre-built integration connectors that allow users to load data from other sources into the SaaS application.

 Multi-tenancy: This term means that multiple companies are using a single, remotely hosted database. Every organization's customer data is stored in the same database and kept separate. While multi-tenant SaaS CRM applications tend to be less expensive, many companies worry about the security of their customer data in a shared database.

 On-demand CRM: On-demand CRM is constructed around what is called a multi-tenant architecture -- i.e., many clients can run off a single instance of the applications/services that reside on a server at a remote site. On-demand applications are ordinarily accessed via the Web.

 Platform as a Service (PaaS): Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a paradigm for delivering operating systems and associated services over the Internet without downloads or installation. PaaS is sometimes called "cloudware" because it moves resources from privately owned computers into the Internet "cloud." PaaS is an outgrowth of Software as a Service (SaaS), a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over the Internet.

 Private cloud: Also referred to as an internal cloud or corporate cloud, this is a marketing term for a proprietary computing architecture that provides hosted services to a limited number of people behind a firewall.

 Public cloud: A public cloud is one based on the standard cloud computing model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model.

 Remote access: Remote access is the ability to get access to a computer or a network from a remote distance. In corporations, people at branch offices, telecommuters, and people who are travelling may need access to the corporation's network. Home users get access to the Internet through remote access to an Internet service provider (ISP). Dial-up connection through desktop, notebook, or handheld computer modem over regular telephone lines is a common method of remote access. Remote access is also possible using a dedicated line between a computer or a remote local area network and the "central" or main corporate local area network.

 SaaS ERP: This is a hosting model for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. In a SaaS model, a firm's ERP software applications reside on a vendor's servers. The goal of SaaS ERP hosting is to reduce the costs of software, hardware and support.

 Single-tenancy: This term means that each customer is provided with a dedicated database, middleware and application instance. Since single-tenancy provides customers with their own private database, single-tenant SaaS CRM applications are often the choice of companies with sensitive customer data.

 SOA: A service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the underlying structure supporting communications between services. SOA defines how two computing entities, such as programs, interact in such a way as to enable one entity to perform a unit of work on behalf of another entity. Service interactions are defined using a description language. Each interaction is self-contained and loosely coupled, so that each interaction is independent of any other interaction.

 Web services: Also referred to as application services, these are services (usually including programming and data) provided by an application service provider (ASP) that are made available to users over the ASP's Web server. On-demand CRM is an example of a major service offered as a Web service.

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This was first published in May 2010

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