Have you ever heard the saying “Same, but different?” No matter the similarities, we like to understand distinctions between options before we choose, and "Same, but different" just won't do.

While exploring the alternatives to SFTP To Go, we stumbled across a number of terms. Whether it’s hosted SFTP, SFTP SaaS, SFTP as a service, SaaS SFTP, SFTP hosting, or cloud SFTP service, there are so many names for what appears to be the same offering.

We went on a quest to figure out the distinctions between them, and came to the conclusion that the difference boils down to the state of mind of both the user and the service provider.

Using the qualities and features of these services, the following post will attempt to clear up some of the blurred lines.

SFTP as a Service vs. hosted SFTP, same or different?
Same or different? That is the question! Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Ownership and responsibility

We like to think of SFTP as a Service as a representation of SaaS (software as a service), as SaaS SFTP, in which the software you use is an SFTP server that you connect to using any SFTP client.

SFTP SaaS or SFTP as a Service explained

Hosted SFTP, on the other hand, lends itself to the notion of IaaS (infrastructure as a service), where you gain access to a server, hosted by the provider’s data centers.

SFTP SaaS Setup and onboarding

It’s true that with hosted SFTP you may not be able to pick the OS type or version, or even the instance type, but the point is that with hosted SFTP there’s a shift in responsibility and ownership from the provider to the user.

In the same manner, with SFTP SaaS or SFTP as a Service (at least in the way our service is architectured), the user should expect a quick sign-up process and immediate access to the SFTP service.

No need to wait for an instance to be provisioned before you can access it. Moreover, you don’t even care if there’s an instance there, as long as you can use your client to log in. It may be serverless for all you care. Life just got easier.

Working hard while we provide your SFTP service.
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Elasticity and scalability

With SFTP SaaS, your storage, bandwidth, the number of concurrent connections, or the amount of users created should be extremely flexible and allow you to scale up and down according to your needs.

Therefore, there is no reason to switch over to another host in the event that you require more storage capacity, more users, or more concurrent connections, as is the case with hosted SFTP.

Automation and application interfaces

With hosted SFTP comes SFTP, plain and simple, nothing more.

Hosted SFTP explained

When using SFTP SaaS, a.k.a. SFTP as a service, you should expect not only other application interfaces to your files (e.g. FTPS, Amazon S3, HTTPS), but also APIs for access and user management, and webhooks that notify your applications when files are created, changed, or deleted.

High availability and business continuity

SFTP SaaS, or SFTP as a service, should deliver a laser focused solution that, for your benefit, acts as a black box that allows you to access files over the SFTP protocol.

Additionally, since you expect the service provider to take maximum ownership of the service, you should also expect maximum uptime of the service, and support when dealing with data loss, in case of user errors or hardware failure.

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We’re definitely not saying that all hosted SFTP providers lack what is included in SFTP To Go, which is SFTP as a service, but we do believe different terms have different meanings.

We’d love to hear your take on it—you are more than welcome to write to us by clicking the chat button.

Post image by Herbert Bieser from Pixabay

Frequently asked questions

How does SFTP To Go differ from alternatives?

SFTP To Go offers a service-oriented approach, providing immediate access, flexibility, and scalability, unlike hosted SFTP which might require more user involvement and might lack scalability.

What is the setup process for SFTP as a Service?

SFTP as a Service, such as SFTP To Go, offers quick sign-up and immediate access, with no need for provisioning instances, making the setup process seamless for users.

How flexible is SFTP as a Service?

SFTP as a Service offers high flexibility, allowing users to scale storage, bandwidth, and the number of connections or users according to their needs.

Does SFTP as a Service offer automation?

Yes, SFTP as a Service provides not only various application interfaces but also APIs for access and user management, and webhooks for notifying applications of file changes.

What extra features does SFTP as a Service offer?

SFTP as a Service offers additional application interfaces, APIs for user management, webhooks for file notifications, and is expected to have high availability and support for data loss scenarios.

Is SFTP as a Service highly available?

Yes, users of SFTP as a Service should expect maximum uptime and support in case of data loss due to the service provider taking maximum ownership of the service.

Why do different SFTP services have different names?

The different names like hosted SFTP, SFTP as a service, and cloud SFTP service reflect variations in user and provider perspectives, ownership, responsibility, and features offered by the services.