Software as a Service (SaaS) is at the top of the pyramid of cloud services, sitting above Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Software, delivered as a service over the cloud, is reliant on PaaS and IaaS but these layers no longer you responsibility or concern.
The traditional way of software provisioning
The way we purchase and license our software is changing
Traditionally, software would be purchased with a perpetual or annual license and the software would have to be delivered and installed at your premise.
Before you ordered and purchased your software, you would be responsible for ensuring that the required infrastructure was in place. The software would require a minimum specification of hardware and storage and would specify which platform(s) that it would run on.
The installation would require a level of technical expertise that you may or may not have within your organisation. You may have had to pay extra for the software supplier to install it on your behalf and this may still have required you to make configuration changes in preparation.
The software may require an installation on a server as well as onto client PCs and laptops.
SaaS could be your entry into cloud computing
By choosing Software as a Service as your model for software licensing, you are passing the responsibility for most of the above onto someone else.
You will access the software over the Internet on any device that supports web browsing and has a current Internet connection. This includes, but is not restricted to PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
It is now the software suppliers responsibility to ensure that supported platforms are available to run the software on your behalf. It is also the software suppliers responsibility to ensure that an appropriate infrastructure is in place to run the platforms and software on, and deliver the software to your browser. Finally, it is now the software suppliers responsibility to maintain, upgrade and patch the infrastructure, platforms and software.
Your responsibility is now limited to ensuring all users have access to a web enabled device so you can concentrate on operating the software and benefiting from the increased knowledge and productivity that you should receive from the software.
Main benefits of using Software as a Service (SaaS)
The following is a summary of the benefits of using Software as a Service
- Reduced lead times – the software is usually instantly available for access and use. No more waiting for software delivery and installation.
- No additional hardware costs – No more server upgrades or additional platform licences required to operate the software. Just open your browser and sign in.
- Pay for what you use – With a subscription model of payment, you only pay for the level of software that you use, when you need to use it. No guesswork required when paying up front for licence. Payment is now relevant to your business needs.
- Scalability – The capacity of the software and the platform and infrastructure it runs on will scale up and down with the requirements of the business, saving addition costs normally associated with scaling. This is particularly beneficial for short term increases incapacity such as individual projects or seasonal fluctuations.
- No long term commitment – Sign up and access can be instant, but it is also easy to come out of contract too if the software is no longer required. No more large up front fees for a licence that you may not require long term which means less risk on your software purchasing.
- No additional technical expertise required to run the software – As long as you can operate a device with a web browser you can access and use software delivered as a service. No more infrastructure to maintain, no platforms to configure just sign in and go.
- Updates and patches applied by the supplier and instantly available – The supplier hosts and runs the software on your behalf, updating, upgrading and patching the software so you no longer have to worry about it. You can now operate the software confident that you are always using the latest version.
- Platform independence – You are no longer tied down to as single hardware brand or operating system. In fact, you are no longer restricted to the type of device you use. Any device with a web browser will let you operate your software.
- Users no longer tied down to specific devices or locations – As no client software is installed, your end users can operate the software wherever they want and on a device of their choice.
- Opens up software use to Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) – Software access is now no longer restricted to your company’s own devices. Your employees can now access the software on their own smartphones, tablets or home computers.
- Simplified disaster recovery – Your data is no longer stored on premise. Your software supplier will back up your data in the cloud. Operating software in the cloud adds additional redundancy into your processing. If one device fails, sign on to the software with another and continue where you left off.
Software as a service is the simplest entry point into cloud computing and one that will benefit many businesses. By no longer being reliant on technical expertise, SaaS can remove barriers and introduce businesses to software applications that would have been beyond their reach previously.
The new subscription models that SaaS brings allows businesses to access software at a reduced cost, with the potential that the software could lead to savings through increased productivity, knowledge and management control.
We hope this explanation simplifies some of the mysteries of cloud computing and the various models attached to it.
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