Self-Hosted alternatives to SaaS

Hosting your software can still make sense
even in this SaaS-era.

Today, there is a SaaS product you can subscribe to for about anything. It's great, I use a lot of them everyday but I think there is still situations where it makes sense to host your software yourself.

I found myself thinking a lot about SaaS vs SelfHosted recently and

🙏 Share your favorite

I started Spreadsheet to list the best self-hosted software for the most common use case. If you know any alternative to a SaaS product or if you have something relevant to add, please contribute to this sheet.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-g0MQWBcHADZ9O2QOln35yKUzBA_tBfWwwooAVelMNo/edit?usp=sharing

Where Self-Hosted excels

Power & Flexibility

Owning your software allows you to modify it to fit your needs better. Whether it's optimizing your workflow, tweaking design, integrating with other systems, it's usually doable if you can access the source. John O'Nolan and Hannah Wolfefrom Ghost wrote about it here. Note that Self-Hosted isn't necessarily open source but very often is.

Independent

When you run the software, it will essentially work until YOU stop it. How many times did you go on your favorite app website, announcing they were acquired by FAANG so it will help "their mission" but 6 months later the service was shut down?

Uniform cost

Maintaining software will cost your time and energy but it's pretty consistent over time. Because most SaaS software have (or wants to have) a "per seat" pricing model (the more you use, the more you pay), the cost will vary a lot while self-hosted will usually still cost your time. Also, SaaS service are free to change their prices. Remember Google Maps?

Example

Medium VS ghost/wordpress ???

Get more

I'm not entirely sure yet where this project is heading but I'll at least publish a nice searchable list based on the spreadsheet. If you're interested in SelfHosted vs SaaS in general or in this list, leave your email. The address will be store in MailChimp, a SaaS product. How ironic?

Where SaaS excels

Ease of use

This is definitely the main reason behind the success of SaaS: it's so easy to use. Sign up and start using powerful software.

No maintenance

Running your software can mean many things, it might be a simple MacOS app you installed but it could also mean running a server with the right version of openSSL, Node.js, MySQL and many more. It will generally require some attention keep everything running safely. With SaaS it's never an issue, it just works. Someone is taking care of all this for you.

Improves over time

With SaaS product you will always be using the latest version. Every time the team behind it fixes a bug, improves the UX or adds a feature, it's available to you. The latter might not be included in your plan, but you can get it without much efforts other than pulling your credit card.

Example

I work for Algolia so I'm going to talk about what I know. At Algolia we focus on 2 main things: relevance and DX/UX.

Comments?

If you're interested in the topic and want to share your opinion or ask question, please comment on HackerNews or Reddit, on Twitter @julienbourdeau or email me at julien@selfhosted.dev.

A project started by Julien Bourdeau