SaaS vs SaaP: what are the key differences?

When it comes to choosing software, you come face-to-face with a host of options, jargon, warnings and advice. One of the decisions you’ll come across is the SaaS vs SaaP discussion.

As similar as these two terms look and sound, they are far more different than the change of one letter might suggest.

So, when it comes to SaaS vs SaaP, what are the key differences, and which one is right for you?

SaaS vs SaaP: what are they?

Before delving into a comparison of SaaS vs SaaP, it’s important to know what the terms are. Both sides of the SaaS vs SaaP discussion refer to software solutions made by a third-party, and that you pay to download and use.

SaaS stands for ‘software as a service’. In SaaS solutions, you pay a recurring (usually monthly) cost to use a third-party software program. This cost tends to cover not only your usage of the software but also its maintenance. SaaS pricing strategies can vary based on the type of solution you’re subscribing to, and the amount you intend to use it.

Meanwhile, SaaP is the shortened term for ‘software as a product’. When it comes to SaaP solutions, you buy a licence to download and use the software with a one-time (often high) payment. It’s yours to use for life once purchased.

SaaS vs SaaP: usage rights and hosting

With SaaP, once you have paid for and downloaded the solution, you essentially own it. You don’t have to pay any extra monthly costs to use it, and you host it yourself, on your own hardware.

Think of it like buying a buying a book from the bookshop. Once you’ve paid for it, that copy of the book becomes yours. You keep it on your own bookshelf, and you can read it as much or as little as you like.

With SaaS, you pay a subscription that allows you to use the software. This recurring cost could be a fixed monthly price, or it could be based on your usage. (The more you use the solution, the higher the cost for that month.) If you stop paying the subscription fee, you lose access to the functionality of the program.

For SaaS, it’s more common for the provider to host the solution for you. But, in some cases, you can choose to host the solution yourself.

Think of SaaS like paying for a library membership and borrowing a book. You can choose to take the copy home and read it there, or you can sit in the library to read it. It’s yours to use as much or a little as you like, for as long as you check it out for. But the copy of that book doesn’t belong to you.

Support and updates

Another key difference in SaaS vs SaaP is in the support from the third-party vendor that is available to you.

With SaaP, once you have downloaded the product, it’s on you to keep the solution running smoothly. If there is an outage, it’s your responsibility to get it fixed. (Though there may be a paid tech support service, depending on the SaaP vendor.)

Similarly, you will likely have to pay extra for any updates or upgrades. So, this can mean that your SaaP quickly becomes outdated.

In SaaS, however, you have access to tech support if something goes wrong. You are paying for the functionality of the software, rather than the product itself. This means it’s on the vendor to fix things if the program breaks or goes wrong. So, SaaS solutions come with SLAs, or service level agreements. These outline the security, support and performance standards that the SaaS provider must provide.

Plus, with SaaS, any updates or bug fixes to the software tend to be included in your recurring cost. The program is kept up-to-date with security measures and hardware. And, when the vendor releases a shiny product upgrade, that’s yours at no extra cost too.

Flexibility and freedom in SaaS vs SaaP

In SaaS vs SaaP, software-as-a-product can offer more freedom. You can use it as much or as little as you like, and you don’t have to have the upgrades or paid extras if you don’t want to.

Plus, SaaP can be ideal for highly regulated industries who need to store data behind their own firewalls and on their own servers. Not only do customers own the product outright, they have full ownership of their data within it.

SaaS, meanwhile, has its own unique flexibilities. Because the price of SaaS is often based on your usage, you only pay for what you need. You aren’t forced to pay a huge amount for a solution that you only need for a few tasks. Plus, with SaaS, you may even have options to tailor the product to your needs — only paying for the features or functions that you want.

Importantly, because updates and upgrades are available to you, a SaaS solution is typically more future proof. It can be updated alongside new hardware and emerging cybersecurity risks.

SaaS vs SaaP: which is better?

SaaS is the increasingly popular choice for both providers and businesses. This is because the SaaS model allows for more flexibility and usability. It’s more future-proof and potentially less susceptible to cybercrime to boot.  

SaaP still has a place, however, as a better option for some consumers. After all, there’s no continuing cost and you get a program that is yours to host and customise. If you pay for a maintenance package, you can even offset some of the risks of the technology becoming outdated.

Ultimately, it’s about knowing what you want from your new software tool. There’s no automatic ‘better’ in the SaaS vs SaaP debate – only what’s better for you. 

Useful links

SaaS pricing models explained

What’s the difference between a software upgrade and a software update?

A buyer’s guide to evaluating SaaS products