SaaS Hosting

Guide to
SaaS hosting

SaaS hosting offers significant benefits compared to traditional on-premises data centers.

In this guide, we’ll compare the two and list some top SaaS hosting providers, plus how Vertice can help you manage your tech stack.

What is SaaS hosting?

All web applications need a place to live — and while development teams have traditionally hosted software within their own on-premises data centers, this is often no longer the case thanks to the SaaS model leveraging cloud servers for hosting. 

SaaS — standing for Software-as-Service — is a way of making an application available to users without local installation. Instead, end users access the software entirely online, typically via a web browser. 

However, the software itself requires underlying infrastructure on which it can run. This is where SaaS hosting enters the picture. In this software delivery model, you’re effectively renting computing resources like storage, computing power, and memory to run your application, all managed by the SaaS hosting provider. 

It’s broadly akin to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), where the customer pays for backend infrastructure but provides their own code and data to run on the platform. The hosting provider is responsible for things like hardware maintenance and upgrades, leaving the customer free to focus on their application code. 

In contrast, on-premises hosting means you’re responsible for every aspect of delivering your software to end users. The application code runs on your own servers within your organization’s data centers — hence the name ‘on-premises’ — and these must be maintained to ensure on-demand availability of the application to your users. 

By shifting the burden of managing complex infrastructure to a SaaS hosting provider, your team is freed up to focus on what truly matters to your business — perfecting your application and driving innovation.

The benefits of SaaS hosting over on-premises solutions

While both cloud hosting and on-premises physical servers have their merits, there are many benefits to the former when it comes to SaaS implementation:

  • Reduced costs – On-premises hosting solutions require significant upfront investments in hardware and software licenses, alongside IT staff to manage and maintain the infrastructure. SaaS hosting does away with these expenses, with providers typically operating a pay-as-you-go pricing model based on your actual usage and needs. The result? A more cost-effective way of hosting your application.
  • Scalability – A significant advantage of SaaS hosting is how quickly it can scale. The cloud infrastructure on which your software application runs can seamlessly expand to accommodate a growing user base or increased demand at peak times. For example, an organization could scale its Facebook marketing campaigns easier with a SaaS-based social media management solution. In comparison, scaling up on-prem solutions typically requires additional hardware and complex reconfigurations. 
  • Automatic updates and security – As the SaaS hosting provider shoulders the responsibility for security patches and software updates, there’s less management overhead involved in keeping your application secure. Hosting services often include features to further guard your workloads and minimize downtime, such as firewalls, SSL encryption, and DDoS protection. Additionally, organizations can leverage Application Planning Interfaces (APIs) to enhance orchestration and overall SaaS security posture management.
  • Accessibility – Opting to host your SaaS applications in the cloud also benefits your end users. Many hosting providers have globally distributed servers and content delivery networks (CDNs) placed in strategic locations, delivering low latency to customers when they access your app. In contrast, performance of applications hosted on-prem may be limited by the user’s physical proximity to your servers.

The drawbacks of opting for hosting over on-prem

Despite the myriad benefits of SaaS hosting, some potential pitfalls may be reason to consider an on-prem hosting solution:  

  • Vendor lock-in – Becoming overly reliant on a particular cloud service provider can make migrating between vendors cumbersome. Proprietary technology can tie your data and software to a specific platform, resulting in a complex and time-consuming process if the vendor’s offering no longer fits your needs. This can make an open-source software solution more attractive for some organizations, although you’ll need technical knowhow of operating systems like Linux for optimal implementation. 
  • Limited customization – SaaS providers cater to a broad user base, which sometimes translates to customization options limitations. Think about your application needs. SaaS hosting may be too restrictive if it requires a highly tailored environment or particularly specific software configurations, .
  • Security concerns – While reputable SaaS hosting providers place significant resources behind ensuring the security of their systems, there’s always a degree of risk when entrusting your data to a third-party vendor. Breaches can still happen, so it’s vital to be sure the provider’s security measures align with your compliance requirements. That said, on-prem hosting usually requires investing significant time and money to maintain parity with SaaS security.

Top SaaS hosting providers

Choosing the right SaaS hosting provider is crucial to the success of your application. There’s no definitive answer to which vendor is the best — it depends on your organization’s needs. A few factors to consider include budget, application requirements, and the technical expertise of your staff. Here’s a look at some of the options. 

Cloudways

Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform for web application deployment. With managed hosting, the vendor — in this instance Cloudways — purchases and manages infrastructure from a provider such as AWS or Azure on your behalf, simplifying the process of deploying your SaaS application in the cloud. There are also options for VPS hosting, which can be a cost-effective solution for some applications, although it requires more technical expertise than managed cloud hosting. 

The vendor emphasizes ease of use, with its pre-configured options and plug-ins delivering a user-friendly experience. Cloudways pricing plans vary based on server size, resources, and application needs, although it’s worth keeping in mind this provider may not be as flexible as the major cloud providers themselves. 

Heroku

Heroku is a PaaS provider offering a developer-friendly environment for deploying and scaling web apps in various languages, including Python, Ruby, and Java. Pricing ranges from fixed monthly plans for smaller projects to enterprise plans for apps with complex compliance needs or network isolation. However, other platforms may be more cost-effective for resource-intensive or high-performance workloads. 

DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean is particularly popular with startups for SaaS hosting and other cloud services. It offers an attractive balance between price, performance, and ease of use — particularly through its one-click workflows for app deployment. Generally, DigitalOcean pricing is considered a budget-friendly option that suits smaller applications. On the flip side, its scalability is more limited than the major cloud providers, as is its range of services on offer. 

Amazon Web Services

AWS is the undisputed leader in cloud computing, offering a comprehensive suite of services including compute, storage, databases, security, and machine learning. Its infrastructure is highly scalable and reliable, and its pay-as-you-go pricing is most cost-effective for more complex applications — alternative vendors may be cheaper for basic deployments. There’s a steeper learning curve with AWS compared to some competitors, in part due to the vast array of services available.

Kinsta

If you plan to use WordPress — an immensely popular content management system (CMS) — to build your SaaS application, Kinsta provides managed WordPress hosting specifically optimized for these sites. Features include automatic backups, staging environments, and expert customer support. 

Kinsta pricing is based on bandwidth and storage requirements. It’s potentially more expensive than other more general web hosting platforms, but may be worth it if you need a provider specifically geared towards WordPress deployments.

Manage your entire stack in one place with Vertice

When it comes to managing your software development stack, Vertice can help you save time and money. If you’re using AWS for SaaS hosting, our Cloud Cost Optimization tool can cut your spend by intelligently adjusting resource allocation and providing granular visibility and insights. 

It’s also likely your development team utilizes multiple SaaS apps — and Vertice has you covered here too. By leveraging the SaaS Purchasing Platform, you can eliminate unused licenses and optimize your footprint. We’ll also help you save money when acquiring or renewing, negotiating on your behalf to secure the lowest price based on our market intel. Simply get in touch to begin.

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