As I have told my customers, I hate the cloud. But businesses looking for a new revenue stream love the cloud. And they want you to love the cloud too so that you will be stuck giving them money each month. Because of this cloud fad, a new wave of acronyms has appeared: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. These stand for Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service. Closely related to these is MaaS, or Malware as a Service.
The most important thing you need to know about all these is that it is just a way to make you pay for a very long time. The only one relevant to home users is SaaS, so we will start there.
A problem for software designers was getting users to buy a new version. In the old days, software designers would work hard to make the new version worth spending money on. But when a business matures, the people at the top who likely never had any experience selling or designing software want to maximize profits. What happens is that instead of the next version being full of features you want, the next version only has small changes that are hyped up to be big changes. Consumers see this, and hold off on buying the next version. And then profit decreases. Oh no. When the economy sours, consumers get even more tight, and profit decreases even more.
The solution to this dilemma is to (a) make better products, which we already know ain’t going to happen; or (b) get your customers to pay a monthly fee to use your program.
SaaS is hyped up to be a way to perpetually get the latest version (remember: changes from version to version are usually minor) at a much discounted rate and sometimes you may use the software on multiple computers. Sounds good, right? Wrong. Instead of paying $250 for a version of Microsoft Office Home and Business once every 3 years, you know pay $99/year for Office 365. If you only have one computer, you will have lost money at the end of the third year.
Having noted this, there are some situations in which SaaS is cheaper. The basic version of Office 365 is good for 5 computers. So if you are a small business and install Office on 3 to 5 computers, you will come out ahead. The only way to come out ahead with SaaS is to maximize what you are allowed to do.
Another important point to remember that with SaaS you are renting the software, you do not own the software.
Developing software can be expensive. That is where Platform as a Service helps. A PaaS company provides a company with all the complex hardware and software need to develop and deploy a complex program, without the need for the company to buy all required licenses, servers, and so on. This service helps smaller businesses develop programs.
Servers are also very expensive. That is because server hardware is held to a higher standard than normal hardware. The parts last longer, have higher fault-tolerances, and use hardware that is designed to prevent errors. For companies that need large servers but cannot afford them, there is the Infrastructure as a Service.
Whenever money is to be had, people will find ways to get it. And there will always be people who want a lot of money without doing any work. But how do you scam people on the internet when you have no programming skills? That is where Malware as a Service comes in. There are individuals out there that will do all the work writing your malicious software, including the hourly modifications needed to stay ahead of antivirus programs and figuring out the latest security holes to exploit.
One such service is called Blackhole. For $50 per day, you would get a service that would generate your own unique malware which you could use to deliver your latest fake antivirus scam, or FBI warning scam, or NSA warning scam, or whatever else you wanted to do to scare people out of their money. This service recently was taken down by Russian authorities. However, which such a high demand for the scam, you better believe someone else will have a service to replace it within days.