Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, allows users to connect to and use cloud-based apps from any compatible device over the Internet. Rather than purchasing and installing an application, SaaS users rent or subscribe to an application. The actual application’s infrastructure, middleware, app software, and app data are located in the service provider’s data center, which may be far removed from a user’s location.
The difference between SaaS and a software installation on a user’s computer is comparable to the difference between streaming a TV show online versus buying all the seasons of the show on DVD. While DVDs are purchased only once, they will need to be stored and maintained. Additionally, if the hardware changes, so must the DVDs. For instance, if the user replaces their DVD player with a Blu-ray player, they will need to purchase the compatible, updated version of the DVDs.
In contrast, streaming a show means that a third party manages the storage and upgrades while the user simply needs to press the play button. With streaming, users are dependent on an Internet connection, paying a recurring monthly fee to continue access.
Through a SaaS service agreement, the service provider manages the hardware and software, ensuring availability and the security of the app as well as your data. With SaaS, your organization can quickly be up and running with an app at minimal upfront cost.
What does ‘as a service’ get you?
Think of the ‘as a service’ component like valet parking. A customer could alternatively rent a parking spot. Both offer the same benefit to the customer: a place to leave their car. While the parking spot is a product, valet parking is a service provided to them.
Historically, software vendors sold their software to users as a product. In the SaaS configuration, however, vendors actively provide and maintain the software for their users. Through the cloud, vendors run the application on their servers, maintaining the databases and code essential for the application to run. Therefore, SaaS should be viewed as a service rather than a product.
What are the main cloud service models?
Simply put, the cloud is comprised of remote web servers located in data centers that host databases and run application code. Using the Internet, cloud providers offer their services to customers. SaaS is one of the three main cloud service models, along with IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service).
- IaaS is a cloud computing infrastructure that a cloud provider manages. Rather than maintain their servers and databases themselves, customers can build their own applications with IaaS.
- PaaS is the next level up, including development tools, infrastructure, and other support.
- SaaS is fully-built cloud applications
Is SaaS right for your company?
Though the SaaS model has several advantages and disadvantages, the pros often outweigh the cons.
Advantage: Access on any device, anywhere. Since users can log onto SaaS applications from any device and any location, this provides businesses with flexibility. Employees can operate from all over the world, and users can access their files no matter where they are. Since most users operate multiple devices and replace them often, SaaS applications do not need to be reinstalled, nor new licenses purchase each time a user switches their device.
Advantage: Forget the updates and installations. Since SaaS providers update and patch the applications on a continual basis, users no longer need to worry about it.
Advantage: Manageability. Users have the option to acquire more database space or compute power as usage increases.
Advantage: Cut costs. Since SaaS providers maintain the servers and infrastructure to support the application, the only cost to you is the subscription, reducing internal IT costs and overhead.
Disadvantage: Stronger access control is needed. With the increased accessibility of SaaS applications, user identity and control of access levels are crucial. Since organizational assets are no longer maintained within an internal network, access is based on user identity. With the right login credentials, access is granted, making strong identity verification critical.
Disadvantage: Locked-in to vendor. Because it is time-consuming and expensive to move to a new application, companies may become overly reliant on the SaaS application provider.
Disadvantage: Security and standards. Moving the responsibility of protecting applications from internal IT teams to the external SaaS provider can be a challenge for larger businesses facing tight security or regulatory standards. Some businesses will be unable to assess their application’s security themselves. Instead, they must take the external SaaS provider’s word that the application is secure. This is less of a disadvantage for small- to medium-sized businesses since large cloud providers typically offer more resources to establish strong security.
Why choose SET to secure and accelerate SaaS applications?
Small Enterprise Technology offers several products and features to help your business in the cloud migration process. With SaaS applications, we monitor the health of your systems around the clock and will identify issues that may impact your network performance. Identified issues are resolved proactively with no customer involvement the vast majority of the time. To learn more about how SET can help your business deploy your SaaS application, call us at (918) 965-0045 or contact us today