What is SaaS?

SaaS (prono­unced “sass”), or Soft­ware as a Service, is an incre­asingly important deli­very model to centra­lize soft­ware loca­tions and provide decen­tra­lized service. In plain English, this means that you can pay a small amount per month, the way you would for any sort of service, to access parti­cular, specia­lized soft­ware for a certain amount of time. Payment may also be on-demand, in the sense that you pay each time you use the parti­cular program or soft­ware. This is extre­mely useful for busi­nesses seeking licenses for multiple machines, or for indi­vi­duals seeking an expen­sive program for a limited time, as SaaS solu­tions often cost much less than purcha­sing a license directly.

Very likely, you are already using SaaS. Web-based and Web 2.0 appli­ca­tions like Face­book and Gmail are primary examples of free SaaS solu­tions used by count­less millions. The fact is that compu­ting around the world is swit­ching toward a more SaaS-based model, as the Internet is beco­ming far more powerful and inte­grated into busi­ness and daily life. Soft­ware as a Service repres­ents about 24% of the market for customer rela­ti­onship manage­ment, and it is the fastest-growing segment of the world­wide soft­ware market.

What are the Benefits of Software-as-a-Service?

Aside from the cost bene­fits, which are signi­fi­cant, programs based on a SaaS model improve project colla­bo­ra­tion efforts, make admi­nis­tra­tion and updates easier, ensure complete compa­ti­bi­lity, and make the program acces­sible to people around the world. With one central loca­tion for their soft­ware, deve­lo­pers have much more power and are able to have a far more active role in their program’s deve­lo­p­ment. This in turn bene­fits consu­mers, as SaaS programs are likely to be updated and fixed in a more timely fashion. The archi­tec­ture for updating the program is part and parcel of the SaaS model.

In Which Situations can SaaS be Used?

If you have a busi­ness for which purcha­sing multiple licenses of a parti­cular program would be too expen­sive, such as advanced spreadsheet use or data­base tracking, it’s very likely someone has produced a SaaS program to do the same thing. Inclu­ding a small amount of money per month into your budget is far easier to manage than a huge tens-of-thou­sands-of-dollars purchase, espe­ci­ally for small busi­ness owners. Conse­quently SaaS is a great option as soft­ware for small busi­ness. Like­wise, if you’re an indi­vi­dual who just needs, say, a graphic arts program for a single project, and you’ll never use it again, SaaS can save you a huge amount of money compared to a purcha­sing an equi­va­lent program.

Group­ware is a popular form of soft­ware for busi­ness colla­bo­ra­tion, whose attrac­ti­ve­ness is increased further with the exis­tence of SaaS versions of group­ware. An example of colla­bo­ra­tion soft­ware is that of desktop sharing or screen sharing. By enab­ling others to view your screen actions in real-time over the web, or alter­na­tively you view the screen of another (known as a remote desktop), you are presented with a solu­tion to host an online meetingInternet confe­ren­cing, or remote support. Such group­ware examples follow the SaaS model, where the user can pay for a license of the soft­ware solu­tion for a set period of time. Free busi­ness soft­ware solu­tions, such as free web confe­ren­cing, make the bene­fits and savings of SaaS even greater.