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I woke up this morning with this question in my mind. I read somewhere that Salesforce is a SaaS because the end users can use the application built with Salesforce and due to the fact that Salesforce is built on Heroku. Somewhere else I read that Salesforce is a PaaS because it provides tools to develop and build custom software for the end users.

So, what is the truth? Salesforce is a SaaS or a PaaS? And what are the role of Heroku and Force.com? Salesforce is built on top of one those?

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    Can't it be both? Both terms seem applicable to me.
    – David Reed
    Oct 4, 2018 at 15:41
  • I don't think so because SaaS operates in a different layer compared to PaaS.
    – DarkSkull
    Oct 4, 2018 at 15:46

2 Answers 2

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This is too broad to answer.

But here's my take for your question if it's SaaS or PaaS. Salesforce is actually even more than that, I would say. While as an offering for the Salesforce as a product, you only get SaaS, PaaS (and DaaS) capabilities, but Salesforce actually follows the principles of all as mentioned below:

  • SaaS
  • Paas
  • IaaS (considering that Underlying the SaaS and PaaS layers is IaaS)
  • DaaS

As for your question:

And what are the role of Heroku and Force.com? Salesforce is built on top of one those?

Salesforce is not built on Heroku or Force.com

Heroku is still a PaaS offering which was acquired by Salesforce. Heroku though is not provided with Salesforce CRM's core oferring.

Salesforce is not built on top Force.com either. Force.com is a native PaaS offering for Salesforce CRM platform and that it provides to build your own platform services within Salesforce CRM.


While theoretically Salesforce qualifies as all as mentioned above, but as an end user you can only use the features that Salesforce offers you and that those are primarily only SaaS and PaaS.

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  • Surely, it's not an IaaS because you can't configure and handle the resource of the virtual machines under it.
    – DarkSkull
    Oct 4, 2018 at 15:50
  • It conceptually is, but you don't want to use Salesforce as IaaS but more for PaaS or SaaS.
    – Jayant Das
    Oct 4, 2018 at 16:08
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    *aas should be characterized based on the service provided to the consumer, not the technology required to provide that service to them. I am not an Oracle user just because SF uses some oracle in their implementation. I cannot create/control infrastructure on SF cloud, so I have to agree, it is NOT IAAS because it does not deliver to me the capablities that are the defining characteristic of the top IAAS providers (EC3 and Azure for example) Oct 4, 2018 at 18:51
  • That's my point too. If you ask in general if Salesforce can be considered as *aaS, then conceptually it is Yes. However what you get as an "offering" is just the PaaS and SaaS capabilities.
    – Jayant Das
    Oct 5, 2018 at 2:00
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Its both.

Software as a service (or SaaS; pronounced /sæs/) is a way of delivering centrally hosted applications over the Internet—as a service. SaaS applications are sometimes called web-based software, on-demand software, or hosted software. Whatever the name, SaaS applications run on a SaaS provider’s servers.

Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management.(Which is exactly what salesforce is doing) The provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance. SaaS business applications are usually accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a proven model for running applications without the hassle of maintaining on-premises hardware and software infrastructure at your company. Enterprises of all sizes have adopted PaaS solutions like Salesforce for simplicity, scalability, and reliability. PaaS applications also have the latest features without the pain of constant upgrades.

PaaS provides a huge benefit for companies adopting a microservices architecture, since PaaS allows for each microservice to be deployed and managed faster. PaaS is especially helpful when microservices are built using several different language and frameworks.

Salesforce Lightning Platform brings the trust and speed that are at the core of all our products to building and deploying apps in the cloud. Our built-in features and functionality take care of back-end concerns such as security, infrastructure, and data integration so that you can focus on building your apps faster.

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