Is Office365 a PaaS or a SaaS?

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2023-01-25 20:00:06

Lately I am more involved in discussions with customers about Office365, and Microsoft’s cloud offerings in general. This kind of discussions always starts with the introduction of cloud hosting concepts such as Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service. You have probably seen this slide before:

(note from the future: re-reading this 4 years later makes the AWS\Azure comparison look naive, but when both platforms were young it made more sense)

Office365 is commonly presented as a SaaS solution by most people, maybe because it is a direct competitor to Google Apps which are all about SaaS, but I think that there’s more to that to discuss.

When talking about Exchange Online and Lync Online – they are most definitely SaaS Products. Is SharePoint Online the same? I think not. In my opinion, SharePoint online is as much PaaS as it is SaaS. It depends on how you use it, but this question is also relevant for on-premises SharePoint.

I work with some organizations that see SharePoint as their mainstream development platform. Every new business requirement is developed on SharePoint, and most of the developers there are SharePoint developers. For them, SharePoint is clearly a development platform, regardless on weather it is on the cloud or in their data center. If I had a discussion with them about SharePoint Online, I would probably present SharePoint Online as a PaaS solution, just next to Windows Azure.

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