Is Salesforce PaaS or SaaS? Here's why it's a bit of both.

SaaS Tools

Is Salesforce a Platform as a Service (Paas) or Software as a Service (Saas)? Due to its extensive range of offerings, it’s a bit of both. Discover the benefits of Salesforce's hybrid approach and several of its features in this blog post.

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Written by
Vendr Team
Published on
April 5, 2023
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You've probably heard of Salesforce, the cloud computing powerhouse that’s transformed how organizations across the globe manage customer relationships, streamline sales processes, and boost productivity. But as you explore the world of cloud computing, you might find yourself wondering: is Salesforce a Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS)?

Due to its massive size and diverse array of offerings, Salesforce is a bit of both. Here’s how it offers its customers the best of both worlds.


Salesforce: A hybrid of PaaS and SaaS

Salesforce’s wide range of offerings allows customers to hand pick the services they’re looking for, which include sales, customer service, marketing, and analytics.

Salesforce as a SaaS provider

Salesforce CRM, their core product, is a perfect example of a SaaS offering. This cloud-based customer relationship management platform allows organizations to manage customer interactions, track sales leads, and analyze customer data from any device with an internet connection. Some of Salesforce's other SaaS offerings include:

Sales Cloud: Turbocharging the sales pipeline

Sales Cloud is designed to revolutionize the sales process by providing an array of automation tools that help businesses manage leads, nurture relationships, and close deals faster. Key features of Sales Cloud include:

  • Lead management: Efficiently track and manage leads from multiple sources, ensuring timely follow-ups and conversions.
  • Opportunity management: Gain a complete view of your sales pipeline, allowing for better forecasting and prioritization of deals.
  • Sales analytics: Access real-time sales insights and data-driven recommendations to optimize sales strategies and improve overall performance.
  • Collaboration tools: Enhance team collaboration and communication, ensuring everyone stays aligned and informed.

Service Cloud: Elevating customer service standards

Service Cloud is a comprehensive customer service platform that empowers businesses to provide exceptional support experiences. Some standout features of Service Cloud are:

  • Case management: Centrally manage customer support cases, ensuring timely and consistent responses.
  • Knowledge base: Create and maintain a searchable repository of information, allowing support agents to find answers quickly and accurately.
  • Self-service portals: Enable customers to access support resources and resolve issues independently, reducing support request volumes.
  • Omni-channel support: Seamlessly manage customer interactions across multiple channels, including phone, email, chat, and social media.

Marketing Cloud: Mastering multi-channel marketing

Marketing Cloud is an integrated suite of tools designed to help businesses create, manage, and analyze multi-channel marketing campaigns. Key capabilities of Marketing Cloud include:

  • Email marketing: Design and deploy personalized email campaigns that resonate with your target audience.
  • Social media management: Monitor, engage, and publish content across social media channels to increase brand visibility and strengthen customer relationships.
  • Marketing automation: Streamline marketing processes and automate repetitive tasks to increase efficiency and reduce manual effort.
  • Campaign analytics: Measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns with robust reporting and analytics, enabling data-driven decision-making.

Commerce Cloud

Commerce Cloud is a robust e-commerce platform that allows businesses to create, manage, and scale online stores and mobile apps. With Commerce Cloud, organizations can provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers. Key features include:

  • Storefront design: Create visually appealing and user-friendly online stores that reflect your brand identity.
  • Order management: Streamline order processing, inventory tracking, and fulfillment to ensure a smooth customer experience.
  • Personalization: Leverage customer data and insights to deliver personalized shopping experiences, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Multi-channel integration: Seamlessly integrate your online store with other channels, such as social media and brick-and-mortar locations, to provide a unified shopping experience.

Salesforce's extensive SaaS offerings enable businesses to manage various aspects of their operations with greater efficiency, flexibility, and scalability.

Salesforce as a PaaS provider

In addition to its SaaS offerings, Salesforce also provides a PaaS called Salesforce Platform (formerly known as This platform enables developers to build custom applications using Salesforce's infrastructure and tools, without the need to manage servers, storage, or networking. Key features of the Salesforce Platform include:


Apex is a proprietary programming language designed specifically for the Salesforce platform. It allows your development team to build custom applications tailored to your organization's unique requirements. Apex offers the flexibility to extend and customize standard Salesforce functionality, integrating smoothly with external systems to create a unified solution.


Visualforce is a framework that enables your team to create custom user interfaces for your Salesforce applications. By combining HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Salesforce-specific tags, Visualforce allows for the creation of user-friendly and visually appealing interfaces that cater to your specific needs. This ensures a streamlined user experience, resulting in greater efficiency across a range of processes.

Lightning Platform

The Lightning Platform offers a suite of tools and services that allow developers to build and deploy custom applications, components, and user interfaces using a component-based framework. The Lightning Experience provides a modern, responsive interface, enhancing ease of use and navigation for your finance team. With the Lightning App Builder, a drag-and-drop tool, developers and Salesforce administrators can create custom pages and applications, further optimizing your operations.


Heroku, acquired by Salesforce in 2010, is a PaaS that supports building, running, and scaling applications in multiple languages. It integrates seamlessly with the Salesforce platform, allowing your development team to create powerful applications that leverage data and processes across both platforms. Heroku's developer-friendly environment enables your team to focus on creating innovative applications.


Benefits of Salesforce's hybrid approach

By offering both SaaS and PaaS solutions, Salesforce provides organizations with the flexibility to choose the best combination of services for their unique requirements. Some of the benefits of Salesforce's hybrid approach include:

  1. Scalability: With Salesforce's PaaS offerings, organizations can easily scale their applications to meet growing demand, without worrying about infrastructure limitations.
  2. Customizability: While Salesforce's SaaS solutions offer a broad range of features and capabilities, the PaaS platform allows organizations to build custom applications tailored to their specific needs.
  3. Cost savings: By leveraging Salesforce's PaaS offerings, organizations can reduce their IT infrastructure costs, as they don't need to invest in hardware, software, and other resources required to build and maintain custom applications.
  4. Faster time to market: With the tools and services provided by Salesforce's PaaS platform, developers can quickly build and deploy custom applications, accelerating the time it takes to bring new solutions to market.
  5. Seamless integration: Salesforce's SaaS and PaaS offerings are designed to work together seamlessly, making it easy for organizations to integrate their custom applications with Salesforce's core CRM and other cloud-based solutions, streamlining their operations and improving overall efficiency.

Real-world use cases

To better understand the value of Salesforce's hybrid approach, let's examine some real-world use cases that illustrate how organizations can benefit from this unique combination of PaaS and SaaS offerings.

A small business using Salesforce CRM (SaaS) and developing a custom app with Salesforce Platform (PaaS) to manage unique business processes:

A boutique marketing agency could leverage Salesforce CRM to manage client relationships and track sales leads. By building a custom application on the Salesforce Platform, the agency could also automate specific project management tasks and streamline internal communication, resulting in more efficient operations and improved client satisfaction.

An e-commerce company leveraging Commerce Cloud (SaaS) and building custom applications using Heroku (PaaS) to handle specific business requirements and enhance the customer experience:

An online fashion retailer could utilize Commerce Cloud to manage its e-commerce website, inventory tracking, and customer service features. By building custom applications on Heroku, the retailer could create personalized shopping experiences, implement advanced recommendation algorithms, and integrate with third-party services like payment gateways and shipping providers.

A marketing team using Marketing Cloud (SaaS) and creating custom analytics dashboards with the help of the Lightning Platform (PaaS) for better insights and data-driven decisions:

A large enterprise could employ Marketing Cloud to manage multi-channel marketing campaigns and track customer engagement. By creating custom analytics dashboards using the Lightning Platform, the marketing team could gain better insights into campaign performance, customer behavior, and ROI, enabling them to make more informed, data-driven decisions that drive growth and profitability.

So, is Salesforce a PaaS or SaaS provider?

The answer is both.

Through its hybrid approach to offering both SaaS and PaaS solutions, Salesforce gives organizations the flexibility and scalability they need to grow and adapt in today's fast-paced business environment. By combining the ease of use of SaaS solutions with the power and customizability of PaaS platforms, Salesforce has managed to create a robust ecosystem that caters to a wide range of business needs. This unique blend allows companies to select the best combination of services for their specific requirements, helping them streamline operations, reduce costs, and bring new solutions to market faster.

With Salesforce's powerful tools and seamless integration, businesses can confidently embrace the future of cloud computing, knowing they have a strong partner to support them every step of the way.


Vendr Team
Vendr's team of SaaS and negotiation experts provide their curated insights into the latest trends in software, tool capabilities, and modern procurement strategies.

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