In recent times, we have all become familiar with cloud services and the idea that not everything needs to be on the server within a business. A new addition to these style of services is known as the Software as a Service or SaaS. But what is it and what potential pros and cons are there for the average business? We had a brief look at SaaS in a previous post, but we wanted to go into things in a bit more detail, looking at the pros and cons, so you can decide if it’s someting that might be right for yiur business.
For many years, the model was simple – if you wanted a piece of software, you bought it to install on your system, with an on-premise license that incorporated the number of users within your organisation. This meant that the software seller got a big payment from you at the beginning and then hoped you took upgrades and add-ons during the life of the software. The biggest problem with this was that the business could find it had spent a lot of money on software and it didn’t do what they needed. The initial cost also priced out small and even medium sized companies.
The development of the internet, with high speed connections and reliability of service, has forever changed how businesses obtain and use software. The newest version of these concepts are the Software as a Service distribution model and this is becoming increasingly popular with businesses around the world. It allows both businesses and consumers to lease pieces of software that are delivered over the internet. The flexibility and affordability of these service mean that revenues from SaaS look set to reach $106 billion by next year, a growth of 21% over 2015.
All of this sounds great for businesses but then natural scepticism comes on – is it really as good as it sounds? What are the downsides?
Firstly, the pros in favour of using SaaS. For starters, affordability is definitely a huge benefit for any size company. Because the software is leased rather than owned, the pricing is completely different. Ongoing subscription fees, often on a monthly basis is the normal payment method and allows businesses to pay for only what they need rather than a set package. It is also simple to increase the license if you add more employees or decrease it if you reduce your numbers.
The internet basis of the software makes it quick to install and to update and is easy to move from one location to another if your employees work in different locations, such as working from home.
The biggest potential problem with SaaS is that if you lose your internet connection, you lose the ability to access the software. So while your business may be able to operate without the internet, you could be hampered by a loss of software.
Infrastructure needs also to be good enough to handle the software needs and if you are based in an area with limited bandwidth, then operating these internet-based software programs may be tricky or time consuming.
The biggest worry about the internet in general is security and this concern can also effect cloud systems and SaaS software. This can be as much with the business themselves as with the software and up to date security protections are essential for both parties.