Cloud computing: Simply SaaS renamed?


"When you talk about cloud computing, cloud computing has to have significant real attributes around scalability and elasticity," said Mitchell. Not all SaaS solutions have the kind of elasticity associated with cloud computing, he said.

"Cloud as been largely defined as cloud infrastructure in the current market," featuring elasticity and offered by a vendor such as Amazon, Ryan said. A truly SaaS program, such as Salesforce or WebEx, is "designed to provide business applications within the cloud," said Ryan. Facebook is a social networking application in the cloud, he added.

"In terms of what is cloud and what is SaaS, in my opinion the big picture [is] who cares," said Tien Tzuo, founder and CEO of online billing services provider Zuora. The Internet is transformational and everyone is trying to figure out what it all means and take advantage of the global network, Tzuo said.

Panelists also discussed key drivers of application services in the cloud.

"For all of the economic advantages and business advantages to what's going on in cloud and SaaS, we believe the real driving factor that's driving adoption of these platforms is really a generation of users entering the workforce who spent their entire [lives] on the Internet," said Ryan.