What is SaaS – Software as a Service

| April 19, 2015

SaaS stands for software as a service. Its a popular term used predominantly in the cloud computing based era. Instead of having an application installed locally on your drive, you access the software usually via a web browser and your internet connection. With this model of software deployment, the software vendors maintain the servers, databases, and the code that makes up the application. Its a cost effective and convenient way to get access to popular applications that your use personally or your business uses.

SaaS cloud

SaaS cloud

SaaS License & Pricing

One of the best reasons for using SaaS is that it saves you the cost of the hardware that may be required to run the software if you were to try to deploy it internally. Its pricing approach is different from what was traditionally known as on-premise software where you would have to pay for a license and then also pay maintenance & support fees on top of that. SaaS takes a different approach and allows you to pay an all inclusive annual or monthly subscription fee, which also includes the support, and upgrades or changes to the software. Its a great way to pay for more expensive software by spreading it out over time.

Origins of SaaS

SaaS really came of age in the 1990’s when the speed of the internet and the approach of traditional enterprise solutions being hosted on the cloud started. One of the most popular SaaS at the time was Salesforce. The software is a customer relationship management software that allows a sales force team to manage their customer base, and build their business through streamlined sales procedures. It wasn’t considered that enterprise software would be taken seriously, yet the ease of use and the attractive pricing model proved otherwise. SaaS companies have grown in profitability as more and more people are used to running their applications from the cloud, thanks to applications like dropbox, and google drive, that people use in their everyday lives.

Customization of SaaS

When SaaS applications first appeared they were very limited in what you could customize. Everyone received the same solution and you were dependant on adjusting your business processes to fit in with the software solution. Now SaaS has come of age, and customization is becoming more and more easier. There is a whole new industry sprung up around the customization of SaaS software, and a local google search for consultants will bring up the details of many outside organizations that will help with your customization requirements. The amount of customization varies from each application and vendor. Specific areas such as data fields, are among the most widely customizable parts inside SaaS.

SaaS Data

Many people are unaware who owns the data that is entered into SaaS. If you check the terms and conditions of many companies, it is disclosed that you own the exclusive rights, and you’re able to have the option to export the data if required. The approach of SaaS is different from companies such as facebook who exclusively use your data to promote advertising. SaaS solutions don’t take this approach in the majority of cases. Your contract with the SaaS provider will hold the details of what you can expect with regards to your data being backed up too. Since the applications work in the cloud, so does your data, and this results in vendors automatically providing the hardware to complete regular backups of the data that you hold with them in case of emergencies.

SaaS Backup Plan

Your internal procedures inside your business should at the very least be prepared for your SaaS service provider to go out of business and your business procedures should have a backup plan in place for migrating the data to a new system. Its not to say that this is always a realistic consideration, but yet it has to be a backup that you have in place. Many SaaS providers do go out of business purely because their service doesn’t take off, or limitations in their budgets result in the data centres they use pulling the plug on their installations. Normally when a SaaS service provider goes out of business they give you plenty of notice. They do normally pay their data centres, where they host the software and applications, a period of time forward so they can help you migrate your data if necessary.

SaaS Limitations

With on premise software, you where always required to upgrade your software every few years, along with the hardware that you run it on. Thanks to the power and low cost of hardware now, this isn’t so much an immediacy. The main hardware requirement that you need is a good internet connection. Some SaaS providers have also developed offline functionality that allows you to continue working in the situation that your internet connection does go down. The data is stored locally, and then once the internet connection is restored the data is automatically synchronized again. You are able to also access SaaS cross platforms too, so your users can use Mac’s and linux operating systems alongside traditional windows PC’s.

With the everyday integration of cloud software in our digital lives it software as a service becomes more prominent in our working and personal lives. This in turn brings the cost of access down and minimises the level of training that is required. Everything positive for business can be realised with a confident and coherent SaaS approach.

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