Software as a service (also known as SaaS) is a means of delivering hosted software based in the cloud as opposed to the more traditional method of individually installed software on machines.
The cloud is a means of storing data remotely on external servers that can then be accessed by anyone who has the permissions to share it. This can be accessed from any computer in any location rather than limiting access to one device.
Some of the common business applications to be accessed via this method include content management, accounts, service desk applications and HR.
SaaS is usually designed to be functional across many types of differing operating systems; windows, Linux and Mac OS for example. This includes the different versions of the same operating systems. To ensure compatibility, it is most common for the software to be run as a web-based application via a web browser such as Firefox or Explorer. This application has been designed so as to be compatible across multiple versions of web browsers. This is a much easier method than having to develop functional software to run across the differing operating systems.
Normally, it is possible to customise the interface by adding or altering features to change the look and feel of the application, perhaps creating different skins or themes. It is possible to do this either by the individual or a corporation. If you use a corporation to customise your interface, they may add colours or logos to fit in line with your company branding.
Companies would normally pay for SaaS on a subscription basis rather than as a one off payment. Some companies may pay per user or per transaction. Others may simply pay on a monthly or annual basis. There is a free version available with options to pay for added extra features.
Advantages Vs Disadvantages
Benefits can be realised by both the user and the software provider. Its central location makes it easily accessible by the provider’s development team to carry out updates and security patches which is advantageous to all involved. Developers can request feedback on software usage and collect data on how the software is being used. This is of benefit to the user as this data can help to improve the service in the future.
One disadvantage of using SaaS is that it can be difficult to assess how secure the cloud really is which can lead to concerns over information security. Due to the remote nature of the service there can sometimes be a time lag when trying to access information stored in the cloud. Any problem with internet access at either end can mean that information cannot be accessed until the problem is resolved.
The Future of SaaS
As the complexity of applications increases and more memory is needed for the increasing data that is produced daily by businesses, users are turning to the cloud for both data and software storage. It is expected that the reliance on the cloud will only increase as internet connections become more reliable and much faster. SaaS will soon be the number one choice for many businesses to store their data.