The Pros and Cons of SaaS - Part 1

executivebrief.com – Much has been said lately about Software as a Service (SaaS), which is often interchangeably referred to as “cloud computing”. While pundits may disagree on whether SaaS is cloud computing, its primary feature is application provided as a service to customers via the internet. Because applications are hosted, this eliminates the need for installation and running of applications on clients’ computers, or even servers, as well as maintenance and support. Moreover, SaaS reduces the need to purchase and maintain hardware.

But before getting into the much-praised or marketed trend, it is worth considering first why SaaS is such a hot commodity nowadays. According to experts, security, maintenance, and cost are among the top reasons why SaaS is being embraced by enterprises.

Moreover, due to the challenges that face companies regarding outsourcing, such as communication gaps and security, SaaS either supplements the need of businesses to outsource parts of their IT requirements. This is especially helpful for small and medium-size businesses that do not have large IT departments, or those that can only afford to pay general IT workers instead of specialists. Because staffing has become problematic due to reduced budgets that affect tech spending, SaaS offers a way to meet their technology requirements without spending more on overhead.

Whereas the application service provider (ASP) business did not make as much mark as it should have in providing enterprise computing, SaaS is being touted as the trend that will replace and even overcome ASP. Scaling was ASP’s main challenge, which required “separate execution environment” or different server environments for hosting different applications. SaaS replaces multiple resources to run applications with shared computing resources, such as the same software version that runs on the same platform. This proves cheaper for end-clients.

SaaS providers offer flexible contracts that have targeted costs for specific services. Many tech projects run for only a few months, so services that provide exactly what businesses need in terms of scope and time, with corresponding costs, are advantages that SaaS vendors are only too happy to explore.

SaaS provide specialized software that increasingly meet clients’ needs. As vendors gain more knowledge about what businesses want, these insights are incorporated into version upgrades, which means better software and, just as important, more responsive service.

It is common knowledge in any industry that freeing up the need to manage back-office processes, including technology services, allows companies to concentrate on bigger, more important business areas. Perhaps at the IT level itself, this is also true. Freeing up the upkeep of some technology processes allows IT departments to focus on the services that they can provide in-house. In effect, SaaS vendors upgrade the quality of both hosted applications and, indirectly, the quality of services of in-house IT departments.

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