Reading time: 3 – 5 minutes
Software Critics will not be complete without ever touching this one-of-a-kind service that has been widely discussed and yet still remain a matter of debate but considerably an option worth looking at especially by small businesses.
What is Saas? Saas stands for Software as a Service, a software deployment model whereby a provider licenses an application to customers as a subscription service. Saas software vendors normally host the application on their own web servers or download the application to the consumer’s (subscriber) device which can be disabled once the application is no longer in use or when the subscription contract expires.
The salient features of Saas are as follows:
Subscription driven. The business model of SaaS is nonetheless a contracted service which requires careful selection especially when choosing the right provider. A proven track record like most subscription based services is something to look at but this one is more than just your regular cable TV subscription!
Hosted Service. Remember, like any hosting service similar to a website or blog, you are likely to experience outages and slowdowns. In the Saas model, a dedicated server with a copy of an application running on an Internet-connected service makes possible multi-tenancy however it is required that each customer’s data are safe and secure. Like all hosting providers, 24/7 uptime and support is a must.
Web-based interface. The flexibility of running a Saas powered environment makes it easy for administrators to access the application anywhere at anytime of day whenever there’s an internet connection.
Hassle-Free Updates. Each update is implemented only on one single platform or dedicated server which makes rolling out of updates an easy task.
Low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Minimizes infrastructure investments and maintenance expenses as SaaS reduces IT efforts especially during solution upgrades compared to on-premise installations.
The challenges of SaaS
Embracing SaaS may require deeper understanding of its scope and implementation. Unlike regular web hosting, transition from one vendor to another will take a considerable amount of effort and time due to vendor lock-in, a lack of portability between vendors, as a major drawback.
Another important thing to look at is the IT dependency of clients over providers which overtime might cause a significant over-dependency when on-premise and traditional on-site IT is abandoned.
Since SaaS operates on the Internet, there’s always a question of security wherein storage of highly sensitive information is concerned unless SaaS providers can deliver tight integration with sensitive back-end systems that makes it impossible from a remote system to create holes in the firewall that would permit an outside server to initiate actions on internal systems. Also, the need to transfer large files over the Internet can delay results compared to Ethernet transfer speeds since the typical Internet connectivity speeds of 100kbs – 1000kbs is less admirable than internal Ethernet speeds of up to 1,000,000kbs.
SaaS providers like most web hosting service have to be financially viable with a long standing revenue sources and reliable track record in order to attract customers aside from the fact that they should provide a balanced Service Agreement that will benefit mutual understanding between parties within the scope and acceptability requirements of the contract not compromising both the intention and the ability to safeguard unsolicited and confidential information. In order to makes this work, internet security procedures such as SSL or encryption technologies should be required by all SaaS consumers.
SaaS is very promising but unlike any other service available on the internet, these requires thorough analysis considering acquiring a hosting software as a service implemented via a remote server, a vendor has to have the structural capability of providing security and confidence in everyway.