Software as a Service—SaaS
Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a cloud-based service where you access an application via the internet. The software application can be anything that runs on a normal system, from simple word processing to complex data analysis. Instead of a standard software installation where you build the server, install the application, and configure it, the applications reside on a remote cloud network accessed through the web or an API. Because the service runs in a browser, it is truly platform independent. A SaaS application can be run on Windows, Mac, Linux or even smartphones and tablets running Android or iOS.
One of the main advantages of SaaS is lower costs. In a SaaS system, the provider owns the environment (the hardware and software) the costs are split between multiple users. Because the software resides in this shared environment the hardware and software license costs are low compared with the traditional software installations. The lower cost for SaaS applications allows small and medium businesses to use software that otherwise they would not use due to the high cost of licensing. Maintenance costs are also reduced since the cost is split among all customers that use that solution.
Because SaaS applications are already installed and configured, they can be deployed more rapidly than traditional software. In many cases, the server can be configured and ready for use in a couple of hours. This reduces the time spent on installation and configuration and can reduce the issues that get in the way of the software deployment. Maintenance and upgrades are handled in a similar fashion. The provider upgrades the solution and it becomes available for their customers. End users don’t have to worry about the costs and effort associated with upgrades and new releases. Because you aren’t forced to buy an upgrade package and install it or pay for specialized services to get the environment upgraded, SaaS can provide significant savings in this area.
Because SaaS solutions reside in cloud environments, they are highly scalable. Because the SaaS provider owns the hardware, you have the flexibility to be able to scale your SaaS use up and down based on specific needs. They can also be easily integrated with other SaaS offerings that exist on the same system because the integrations are already established—you’re simply switching on a new piece that’s already there.
SaaS provides numerous advantages to users, both in terms of cost and usability. Whether a SaaS deployment is right for your organization will depend on what your requirements are and how you plan to use the software.