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What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?
Software as a service (SaaS) is any cloud-based platform that users connect to and use over the internet. GMail is a commonly-used example. Instead of installing and maintaining software, a user simply accesses it via the Internet, freeing themselves from complex software and hardware management. The SaaS provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance. Users will access the SaaS business applications through their web browser. The service provider is responsible for storing the entire infrastructure, including the middleware, app software, and app data.
SaaS eliminates the need for organizations to install and maintain applications on their own computers or data centers. This helps to lower and in some cases remove the cost of hardware acquisition, distribution and maintenance, as well as the costs associated with licensing, installation and support. Other major benefits of the SaaS model include:
- Flexible payments: Rather than purchasing software to install, or additional hardware to support it, customers subscribe to a SaaS offering paying for the service on a monthly or annual basis.
- Scalable usage: Cloud services like SaaS offer access to larger infrastructures, where the ability to scale is built in. This gives organizations the option to adjust their scale without worrying about huge increases in cost.
- Automatic updates: Purchasing a SaaS license removes the need for worry about the cost of upgrading to new software. Updates are applied on an ongoing basis, while the service stays live, so users not only avoid extra costs, they also get immediate access to new features. This can help reduce the burden on an in-house IT staff.
- Accessibility and persistence: Since SaaS applications are delivered over the Internet, users have access to them from any location or device that has internet capabilities. Many services also offer limited functionality when the internet is temporarily unavailable, which can help users who still need access to a service without a connection.
- Easy access to sophisticated applications: SaaS helps lower the cost of complex enterprise applications, like CRM or ERP, affordable for smaller organizations that might lack the resources to purchase, deploy, and maintain the infrastructure and software required by a traditional platform.
- Standardized client software: Users can run most SaaS apps directly from their web browser without needing to download and install any software. This means that they don’t need to purchase and install special software for your users.
- Access on mobile devices: SaaS makes it easy to mobilize a workforce because users can access SaaS apps and data from any Internet-connected device. Apps don’t have to incredibly specialized to perform on each platform, and pricing can cover the software across all platforms. Also, mobile specific security issues are provided by the SaaS company, so that doesn’t have to be handled internally either.
Spyware is mostly classified into four types:
- Cloud Hosting: SaaS applications are hosted in the cloud, far away from application users. This means an increase in application latency. This can be an issue if an organization’s required application relies upon immediate response times.
- Multi-Tenant Architectures: Multi-tenant architectures drive cost efficiency for SaaS solution providers, but they restrict customization possibilities, even when it might be a necessity for larger organizations where small software modifications expanded across an entire enterprise can have a pronounced effect on total productivity.
- Data Access and Integration: Some business applications require access to or integration with customer's current data. When such data are large in volume or sensitive (e.g. end users' personal information), integrating them with remotely hosted software can be costly or risky, or can conflict with data governance regulations.
- Assumed Honesty: A link is added to the chain of security where access to the data is limited only by the assumed honesty of 3rd parties or government agencies able to access the data on their own accord.
- Switching SaaS vendors: This can be difficult, involving the slow and difficult transferring of large data files over the Internet.
- Forced Adoption: Organizations that adopt SaaS may find they are forced into adopting new versions, which might result in unforeseen training costs, an increase in probability that a user might make an error, or instability from bugs in the newer software.
- Loss of Access: Should the software vendor go out of business or drop support for critical features, the user would lose access to the software. This could disrupt current and future projects, and require considerable effort in determining how to migrate the data to a new service, learn that service, and train their employees on how to use the new service.
- Internet Reliance: Relying on an Internet connection means that data is transferred to and from a SaaS platform at Internet speeds, rather than the potentially higher speeds of a firm’s internal network.