“What is SaaS?”

Software as a Service or what is commonly called SaaS is a delivery model where a third- party software vendor (supplier) hosts and make software available to customers over the internet.

SaaS is one of the three key components of Cloud Computing. The other two key components are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Managed Software as a Service (MSaaS), Mobile Back-end as a Service (MBaaS), and Information Technology Management as a Service (ITMaaS) are the other components associated with Cloud Computing.

Some major characteristics we notice with almost all SaaS vendors are, services are offered on a subscription basis, Software updates are applied by the vendor and customer intervention is not required. Since the application is on the Cloud the customer does not require Hardware to host the application.

SaaS applications are also referred to as ‘Web-based Software’, ‘On-demand Software’ and also ‘Hosted Software’. SaaS eliminates the need to buy expensive Hardware for the organisation. This eliminates the expense incurred for Hardware provisioning, Software licensing, Installation, Support and Maintenance (both Hardware and Software).

In addition to the above SaaS also has following benefits;

Manageable Payments: Customers who select a SaaS offering usually go for pay-as-you-go model and pay for this service usually on a monthly basis. This makes an organisation’s budgeting more accurate. If the company or the organisation finds this recurring cost unmanageable, they will be able to terminate the service at any time and stop incurring the cost.

Scalable Usage: Allows the customers to access features/services on-demand as and when required giving greater scalability.

Automatic Updates: Purchasing new Software to overcome obsolescence or having to apply patches to keep your software up-to-date is no longer necessary. The SaaS provider will update the Software and keep it current.

Accessibility: SaaS applications are accessible from Internet enabled devices and from any location where there is connectivity.

“What are the drawbacks of SaaS?”

Having to rely on an outside vendor: Businesses will have to rely on the vendor to keep the Software up and running, provide accurate billing, keep your data secure etc. If the vendor experiences any unexpected disruption, this would have an adverse impact on your business. Therefore, businesses should ensure that service-level contracts are within their comfort zone.

Connectivity issues at customer’s end: Disruptions to Internet connectivity would also impact business. SaaS is the natural evolution of Software. Gone are the days of getting physical CDs/DVDs and installing the software on your own local Servers. However, the Client-Server model is still required for many scenarios/environments. In recent years Technology has developed allowing SaaS to become mainstream. One of the main factors is bandwidth; Internet is simply much faster than it was a decade ago. Other major factors include the evolution of both virtualisation and tools in big data to enable the SaaS provider to manage applications and multiple customers better.

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