Cloud services and applications are on the rise. As cloud computing takes over the IT landscape, the way organizations do business is changing. Software as a Service is the best-known service model of Cloud Computing.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which the software is licensed on a subscription basis and applications are hosted and managed in a service provider’s data centre which is accessed via a browser over an internet connection.
The trend began in the 90’s when the software was generally rented via an ‘Application Service Provider’ or ASP.Application Service Providers were the first to use the Internet as an interactive delivery channel for application software and data exchange.
The key differences between ASP and SaaS are code ownership and tenancy. ASPs generally hosted instances of third-party, client-server applications, whereas SaaS providers are software developers who develop their own applications. SaaS providers operate in a multi-tenant model where subscribers access the same code base, with their data and any customizations kept separate.
Characteristics of SaaS
- Web access to commercial software.
- Management of software from a central location.
- One-to-Many software delivery model.
- Users are not required to handle software upgrades and patches.
- APIs allow for integration between different pieces of software.
Pros of SaaS
The various benefits of adopting SaaS model for businesses are:
Installing, maintaining and upgrading on-premises IT infrastructure is a capital heavy plan. Adopting SaaS model can save significant cost on this kind of IT infrastructure development. A planned SaaS will bring significant cost saving for the business.
As business grows more users can be added in monthly SaaS subscription instead of investing in in-house server capacity development and software licenses.
SaaS applications can be accessed through a wide range of devices from anywhere in the world as it is connected through the internet.
Hardware and Software upgrades are managed by the SaaS provider, thus significant work load can be taken away from the in-house IT department.
As IT infrastructure and data are hosted in the cloud, any forms of physical disaster in the business premises are unaffected on the service. Backing up data and running can be done easily from anywhere through the internet.
Cons of SaaS
The most important concern for businesses to adopt SaaS is handing over sensitive company data to a third party service provider. Issues such as identity and access management are to be considered while considering SaaS. For this reason, users are increasingly adopting intelligent third-party, key-management systems to help secure their data.
Despite best-laid plans, outages can be really disastrous for an app. Hence, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) should be agreed upon and historical performance should be analysed before deciding on a service provider. Tools such as Outage Analyser can be used to monitor outages.
An application hosted on the cloud and accessed through the internet can cause performance worries when compared to software running on a local machine or company LAN. Some applications are better suited for SaaS than others. Adopting SaaS should be based on performance criteria required for the application.
When choosing a SaaS vendor there should be a well-written exit strategy for your business. In case the service provider fails to meet up the standard or his business fails, moving out your data should be carefully strategized before.
Software integration between multiple SaaS applications or between a hosted software with on-premise apps face problem in a SaaS model. Services of the relatively new breed of service model called Integration-as-a-Service can be utilised in such instances.
SaaS model is particularly beneficial for small businesses where they can quickly deploy applications and pay for them based on a monthly subscription rather than investing heavily on on-premise IT infrastructure development and in-house technical support. Larger enterprises may find a different set of issues of integrating already existing on-premise enterprise applications onto SaaS. Still SaaS is finding its way up by being cost effective.