What is SaaS?
If you’ve heard of cloud computing, you’ve probably heard of the most popular forms of it; SaaS. That’s because SaaS is one of the three categories that make up cloud computing, along with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). SaaS stands for Software-as-a-Service and is a cloud solution that end-users can license and access via internet. Customers can use the software without having to worry about the set-up that is hosted by a third-party supplier. Among the most common SaaS solutions are Gmail, Office 365, Dropbox, Shopify, Salesforce, Cisco, etc. With these types of service you simply log into your account via internet and pay-per-use. And due it’s web delivery model, it eliminates the need to have any IT staff manage and download applications for each individual. The SaaS vendors manage all technicality which results in a streamlined service and support.
- It stands for Software-as-a-Service
- It’s one of the three components of cloud computing along with PaaS and Iaas
- It’s hosted on a remote server
- It’s accessible over the internet
- Users don’t have to own or manage hardware and software updates
Why is it important?
It’s an extremely cost-efficient and flexible solution for companies that don’t want a complex model. You pay per use and can easily change your features or subscription when your business requirements change. You can add users, integrate to other systems and add features. This means that you can experiment in a safe environment with a scalable solution and never have to worry about the infrastructure. The ability of fast deployment with low investment risk has made SaaS an extremely popular choice for enterprises. Businesses have been on the lookout for easy solutions to meet organisational requirements and SaaS is a great option.
Cloud computing dates back to the 1960s when IBM and similar providers started to include computer power and database storage to their repertoire. This was mainly offered to banks and other large organizations from their worldwide data centers. With the expansion of internet, it resulted in a new type of centralized computing; ASP or Application Service providers. ASPs offered hosting and managing services for business application. This was a breakthrough since it could vastly reduce costs through central administration. SaaS is an extension of the ASP model but instead of managing and hosting third-party independent software, SaaS vendors develop and manage their own software. ASPs also required installation of software on personal computers whereas SaaS solutions reside in the cloud and only requires an internet connection to access. ASPs also managed separate instances of each application, and it utilizes a multitenant architecture that allows sever users to access the model similarly.
What are the benefits?
The benefits are many, but among the most important is that it greatly reduces time and money spent on work hefty tasks such as installation, maintenance, and design.
- You don’t need to install or manage software or applications locally
- It’s always available over internet when you log in
- You can access the software form pretty much any device, anywhere, and anytime – as long as you have internet connection
- The solution usually resides in a cloud environment that is scalable and contains integrations with other SaaS services.
- A cost friendly alternative due to the license model as well as pay-per-use with scalability according to needs.
- All employees can have their own log in and personalised access level
What are the disadvantages?
- Integrations: If the SaaS app doesn’t follow the standard for integration, it may become a problem with integrating your current systems and you may end up having to design an integration system of your own. In addition, some organizaitons require bigger integrations with their systems and SaaS vendors might only offer a certain amount of support. This might force you to invest in additional resources to design and manage needed integrations.
- Lock-down: While it’s super simple to join the service, it may be hard to get out. If the data you’ve produced via the SaaS service isn’t portable from vendor to vendor, it might result in data loss, extra costs and in-house extra work.
- Data security: Transferring data to a public based cloud service is always a risk and can add costs for migrating large amounts of data.
- Customization: It isn’t completely locked, but it’s definitely lacking in ability to customize. While being aimed for a bigger market, it isn’t always applicable. SaaS has limited functionality and integrations while hosted solutions on the other hand can come with a lot of customization freedom.
- Performance: SaaS users are dependent of their vendor and especially in regard to maintaining the service’s security and performance. Unplanned maintenance can truly affect the app performance and thus affect your work.
The future of SaaS
SaaS is only predicted to become even more popular in the future in correlation with the cloud craze. We can expect more SaaS companies to enter the market as it reflects a shift in how people function with their devices and applications. SaaS vendors are increasingly designing and developing new exciting technologies and features that have never been seen before. It’s also predicted to expand outside of the office and more into the mobile world where mobile first will be far more prevalent. This marks a new era of how it can help bring the world access to applications that can streamline, solve and manage many problems in day-to-day lives. Needless to say, SaaS has a very bright future ahead and leading organizations are embracing cloud applications as the preferred business medium. It has already established a strong identity in the industry, but will keep evolving at rapid pace. And as it becomes more familiar, it will bring a range of new and experimental ways of working. Enterprises are predicted to completely move to the cloud in the future, and while this isn’t necessarily notable in terms of SaaS use. It marks a time of new emerging migration tools ans supported applications that will help streamline the move.