What is Software-as-a-Service?

Learn the Pros and Cons of Software-as-a-Service

4381851322_d46fd7d75e_bFrom Google and Microsoft to Adobe and IBM, more and more companies today are now offering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Also known as “on-demand software,” it leverages the power of cloud computing to offer customers software and applications over the Internet. In many ways, as an Austin managed IT services provider, we view the emergence of Saas in the same vein as the emergence of managed it services–having access to better, more up-to-date technology at a better price point without the liabilities of in-house ownership.  Rather than purchasing a complete copy of the software – physical disc or digital download – users can buy rights to use SaaS.

SaaS has become a popular choice of software delivery for messaging apps, payroll processing, customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), human resource management (HRM), content management systems (CMS), and more. Of course, there’s a good reason for the growing trend of SaaS: it’s an efficient software delivery platform that benefits both the end user and the distributor.

Benefits of Software-as-a-Service

One of the greatest benefits of SaaS is the ability to pay only for the services you need. If you operate a business and only need accounting software to use for tax purposes, for instance, you may want to purchase a SaaS subscription for the month of April – when taxes are due. This eliminates the need to purchase full rights, which would almost certainly cost more than an SaaS subscription for a single month.

There’s also a lower barrier of entry with SaaS. You have to remember that all computing processes and operations associated with SaaS are performed remotely on the cloud, which is in stark contrast to software on DVDs, USB flash drives, and other tangible storage devices. Being that all services are performed on the cloud, you don’t have to worry about upgrading your computer hardware to accommodate the software. The SaaS vendor generally has servers that are designed for this very purpose, performing the operations and funneling the results to your machine.

SaaS is viewed as a “hands-off” software delivery platform, allowing clients to focus their attention on their business. The vendor hosting the software is responsible for all maintenance, including patches/updates, hardware maintenance, and security. Clients simply log into their account and use the software, without worrying about all of the headaches that go into maintaining software and the hardware on which it is hosted. If an issue ever arises with the software, it’s the vendor’s responsibility to fix it.

Disadvantages of Software-as-a-Service

So, what are the disadvantages of using SaaS? For starters, there’s always the possibility that the vendor hosing the software will go out of business. If this happens, and no other company steps forward to fill their shoes, clients may be left without functional software. When you purchase tangible software, you’ll always have access to that software, regardless of whether or not the maker is still in business.

Another issue associated with SaaS is security. Using a SaaS means your data is stored on the cloud as opposed to locally on your computer’s hard drive. If the vendor’s datacenter is ever compromised, it could result in the disclosure of your files. The good news is that cyber breaches such as this are rare, as most vendors implement firewalls, two-step verification, and other safeguards to protect clients’ data. In fact, the data for large SaaS operators is almost certainly more secure than the data residing on your server in your office. If you’re going to purchase SaaS, do your homework and research the vendor beforehand to ensure they are knowledge and experienced in this field.

So, should you choose SaaS over traditional software delivery platforms? It really depends on your unique needs. With that said, SaaS is expected to grow in the months and years to come. As more and more companies seek cloud-based services, SaaS continues to be the preferred choice of software delivery. It’s cost-efficient, reliable, and requires no maintenance from the client.  As an Austin Managed IT services provider, we’re familiar with many SaaS vendors and our IT consulting services can help you find the best solutions for your business.

Here are some examples of SaaS:

  • Adobe Business Catalyst
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Google Docs
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Salesforce
  • GoToMeeting
  • Constant Contact
  • NetSuite
  • Intuit Quickbooks Online