SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It enables users to connect with and use cloud-based applications via the internet. Some common examples include your email system, calendaring and business management tools like NetSuite.
With SaaS, you get a complete software solution that is paid for on a subscription basis from a cloud service provider. Essentially, you are renting the use of a piece of software for your organisation. Your users access it over the internet, usually from within a web browser (though often from mobile applications as well). The underlying infrastructure, app software, middleware and data are in the service provider’s data centre.
Service providers manage all the software and hardware. They provide a service agreement that ensures the availability and security of both the software and the data that relates to it. With SaaS, your organisation can swiftly get up and running with new software and systems with very little upfront cost.
What are the characteristics of SaaS?
When trying to understand the way SaaS works, you could compare it to a bank. Banks protect the privacy of their customers whilst providing a reliable and secure service on a huge scale. The customers of the bank use the same financial systems and technologies without ever worrying that other people might access their personal details without authorisation. Essentially, these key characteristics of SaaS:
Each user has the ability to easily customise applications in line with their business processes with no impact on the common infrastructure. These customisations are unique to each user/company and upgrades will always preserve them. This way, SaaS providers can implement upgrades more frequently without the risk of disruption to customers or excessive adoption costs.
A Multitenant Architecture
This means all users share a single, common infrastructure and code base that is maintained centrally. SaaS vendor clients all utilise this same infrastructure, so vendors can innovate swiftly and save on having to maintain multiple outdated versions of the code.
Harnessing the Consumer Web
Platforms like Amazon represent the Web interface of a typical SaaS application. The SaaS model enables customisation using a point-and-click interface, so the slow procedures for updating traditional business software are a distant memory.
You get enhanced access to key data from any networked device. Meanwhile, it is easy to manage privileges, monitor the use of data and ensure everyone is able to visualise the same data at any given time. So what are the main advantages of SaaS?
- Use of sophisticated applications: without needing to purchase, install or update software and hardware yourself, SaaS enables smaller companies to utilise even the most sophisticated enterprise applications that would otherwise be out of their budget.
- Free client software: SaaS applications can usually be run from within a web browser, so no software is required (with the exception of some plugins). This means no need to purchase and install special software for your users.
- Pay for what you use: SaaS is highly scalable in both directions, meaning you decide which tools and features you need, how many users you require and you pay only for that package.
- Remote access: data is stored in the cloud, so users can access it from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. And if a device fails, there is no loss of data with SaaS vendors offering powerful backup and recovery .
- Easily mobilise your workforce: with remote access to SaaS apps and data, you don’t need to worry about developing systems to enable remote access to devices. This means you can easily and instantly mobilise your workforce and feel confident that all data is secure no matter where it is accessed from.
Trends in SaaS
Many organisations are now building additional SaaS applications by developing integration platforms. This is the new wave in software adoption, shifting SaaS beyond standalone software functionality and making it a platform for mission-critical operations. The result is various other ‘as-a-Service’ options, including:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), wherein the provider hosts hardware, software, storage and other components of infrastructure.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS), providing a complete development and deployment environment within the cloud. Microsoft Azure is a good example of this.
- Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS), providing a set of automated tools to integrate software applications deployed in different environments. Celigo is a leading example of this.
- Anything as a Service (XaaS), which is basically all the ‘aaS’ tools packaged together.
Payment for these services is usually based around a per-user, per-month charge with usage at the centre. Businesses pay only for what they need, ensuring you never pay more than you need to for the tools you use.
SaaS vs Traditional Packaged Software
Traditionally, businesses had to purchase and build around packaged software. This would mean developing multi-application systems that include things like databases, spreadsheets and email. There would also be specialist packages for specific tasks like business intelligence of project management.
Disadvantages of Packaged Software
If we take sales and marketing as an example, CRM would have been based around on-premises software:
- The software must be sourced, purchased, installed, maintained, kept secure and regularly updated on in-house infrastructure by an internal IT department.
- Packaged software is a constant burden on IT staff, which could bottleneck projects.
- Businesses would commonly find themselves needing to support a range of systems simultaneously, and integration could be difficult as they are based on different code and architectures.
- Upfront costs for software and licences, as well as servers to host the software, can be enormous.
- The costs involved in packaged CRM software and hardware could be prohibitive for smaller businesses. Also, scaling up in response to growth may be slow.
SaaS overcomes all these challenges with its cloud-based status and all the benefits that come with that, as listed above.
The Future of SaaS
Cloud computing and SaaS have grown rapidly, enabling companies to access more systems and leading to the rise of other ‘aaS’ services. High-performance computing will lead to even more business uses, such as monitoring application logs and analysing larger volumes of data. SaaS may even be able to address critical challenges businesses face like predicting customer churn and identifying the best cross-selling practices.
There is an ever-increasing need for better software performance, processing of high-volume data and more, so it’s no surprise that businesses are turning to cloud-based providers in numbers.
Why choose Eventura for your ERP project?
Eventura have been helping businesses in their digital transformation journey for two decades. From the implementation of industry-leading ERP solutions such as Sage 200 and NetSuite, to helping them move their entire operations to the cloud and away from costly and restrictive on-premise solutions.
As well as being NetSuite Solution Providers, Sage 200 Partners and Microsoft Gold Partners, we also offer a wide range of managed IT services, meaning we can tackle your business as a whole and help it achieve digital transformation.
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