What is SaaS? Software–as-a-Service Defined
One of the most popular form of cloud computing is software-as-a-service (SaaS). Here’s a simple SaaS definition: A software distribution model in which a service provider hosts applications for customers and makes them available to the customers via internet. SaaS is one of the major points of cloud services along with infrastructure-as-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
Given its ease of access, the SaaS model of software has become common for many types of business applications, and it has been incorporated into the delivery strategies of many enterprise software vendors. SaaS companies have offerings available for variety of business applications, including email, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), billing/payroll processing, sales management, human resources management, sales management, database management.
Cloud Computing for applications
Among the top reasons for using SaaS? Because SaaS is based on cloud computing it saves the organizations from installing and running applications on their own systems. That eliminates or at least reduces the associated costs of hardware purchases and maintenance of software and support. The initial setup cost for a SaaS application is also generally lower than it for equivalent software purchased via a site license.
Even sometimes the use of SaaS can reduce the long-term costs of software licensing. Infact its possible for a SaaS to cost more than traditional software licenses. This is an area to explore for IT organizations. SaaS also provides enterprises the flexibility inherent with cloud services:
They can subscribe to SaaS offering as needed rather than having to buy software licenses and install the software on variety of computers. The savings can be substantial in the case of applications that require new hardware purchases to support the software. The pay-as-you go model of payment lets enterprises shift cost to an ongoing operational expense for easier to manage budgeting.
SaaS advantages for enterprise IT
Because the applications delivered via SaaS are available over the internet, users can easily access the software from any device and location that has internet connectivity. The ability to run both on mobile devices and computers contrasts with many traditional enterprise applications. SaaS offering also tend to support MacOS, IOS, and Android.
Another benefit is easy scalability. Cloud services in general allow enterprises to ramp services and/or features up or down as needed, and SaaS is no different. That’s especially important for enterprises whose business are cyclical in nature, as well as for organizations that are growing quickly.
SaaS customers also benefit from the fact that service providers can make updates within the software- often on a weekly or monthly basis- so the enterprises need not to worry about buying new releases. This can be especially appealing to organizations with limited IT staff to handle such tasks.
SaaS Risks and Challenges
SaaS comes up with a set of risks and challenges that enterprises need to be aware of to maximize the benefits of model. Similar to other cloud providers, users of SaaS rely their service providers to be up and running all time so that they can access applications as and when needed. They are also dependent upon providers to ensure that the software is updated of new patches, security and other things.
Although SaaS providers take great measures to ensure continuous uptime and availability, even the largest vendors can experience unexpected interruptions in service. This loss of control can extent to other areas, such as when a service provider adopts a new version of application but an enterprise is not ready to make such a change.
SaaS Security and Privacy
Security and privacy are the other issues, as they are related with the cloud services also. If a service provider experiences a data breach, that can compromise the safety of enterprise data and the availability of service. Other potential risks relate to user experience and security risks. Despite of the improvement in the network technology, there can be latency issues that can affect response time of applications.
Many organizations don’t even have a broad cloud strategy, and this led to a rise in business users acquiring SaaS applications on their own.
Because SaaS offerings are available from so many providers, a key trend has led to rise in integration among vendor offerings. These services are meant to integrate multiple SaaS applications, such as to provide single signon and access management across them, and efforts within SaaS vendor community to create integrations across multiple provider’s software so that the enterprise processes can flow easily across the applications.