Cloud Computing — You Say it Your Way, I’ll Say it Mine

It’s not hard to find online commentary declaring that a particular piece of technology jargon has gone out of fashion. All too often the folks writing these posts seem more interested in being provocative rather than accurate – trying to make themselves appear to be  ‘ahead of the curve’.

That said, terms do go out of use, sometimes even when they still accurately describe an existing technology. For instance, every person I work with has a “personal digital assistant” – but no one uses that term.

Is it ‘Software as a Service’, ‘SaaS’, or ‘Cloud Computing’?

Recently, I’ve seen some a few posts declaring Software-as-a-Service and SaaS to be outdated terms. At the same time, the replacement and all encompassing term that seems to be the trend — Cloud Computing— is being contested. Is it a superset of SaaS (or DaaS, IaaS and PaaS for that matter)? Is it something different altogether as Joel York discusses in a recent blog titled “Hey SaaS Experts — What’s Your Cloud Computing IQ?” or Ray Wang in his post titled “Understanding The Many Flavors of Cloud Computing and SaaS“.

So I decided to look for some data to see what popular terms people are using to gain a sense of the trends. In an era when selecting the right SEO keywords can be critical to getting visibility, this isn’t just an exercise it is being au courant.

What the Numbers Say — ‘Cloud Computing’ in the Lead

Here are a few statistics, based on frequency of use over the last month:

Media (Google News)

  • 2,164 – SaaS*
  • 2,163 – “Software as a Service”
  • 4,974 – “Cloud Computing”

Blogs (Google Blog Search)

  • 18,752 – SaaS*
  • 7,617 – “Software as a Service”
  • 70,000 – “Cloud Computing”

Twitter (Topsy)

  • 12,531 – SaaS**
  • 2,632 – “Software as a Service”
  • 23,612 – “Cloud Computing”

Searches (Google – monthly searches based on average of past 12 months)

  • 550,000 – SaaS
  • 246,000 – Software as a Service
  • 550,000 – Cloud Computing

Keyword Cost Per Click (Google Adwords estimate)

  • $2.36 – SaaS
  • $7.26 – Software as a Service
  • $0.05 – Cloud Computing

(That last CPC figure for Cloud Computing looks suspiciously low to me.)


While it looks like the industry is coalescing around Cloud Computing as an umbrella term – even though there is ambiguity about its specific meaning –  other terms are still in regular use, especially SaaS, which leaves people 136 characters for tweeting!

For now, I plan to use Cloud Computing as the umbrella term to include all of the following: SaaS, DaaS, IaaS and PaaS. As the industry settles on specific nomenclature, I’ll adapt. That said, whether you call it “Cloud Computing” or I call it SaaS, it all represents disruptive innovation.

Which terms are you using?

*Since this term has alternate uses, I excluded articles that didn’t also include “software” somewhere in the copy.

**See note above. There may be some “noise” in this number, since I couldn’t sensibly exclude “software” in a 140 character tweet.

  • Dashboard Marketer

    Thanks for collecting these stats. I find it humorous and interesting to track the changing industry terms, too. In fact, in my job in marketing software to SaaS providers, I need to make sure I am staying current in my messaging to connect with them successfully. I still use SaaS mostly since saying “cloud computing provider” would only mean someone like Amazon, I think.

    Remember when ASP was the term for these kinds of providers? That was over 10 years ago…

  • Neno Duplan

    I stumbled upon your blog and found it refreshing. There is a lot of confusion out there on what Cloud Computing is. I certainly agree with you that it is a synonym with SaaS and “on-demand” software. ASP is something different, typically a single instance of application hosted on somebody’s server in somebody’s data center for somebody else. Hardly improvement over “on premises”. Bruce, your stats has bee useful and thank you for publishing it. Now you can do one on water, air, and energy. Which one has more Google hits? You will need this one for C3 message. Stay in touch. Neno