Enterprises today are looking to minimize their costs wherever possible to maintain their competitive advantage. One of the most important steps in this direction is to move the IT operations from physical infrastructure to virtual infrastructure. This allows them to further improve the efficiency of their operations and, at the same time, reduce the costs significantly. SaaS is today empowering businesses globally.
In the last few years, the popularity of SaaS platforms has increased manifolds, and it is quickly becoming the preferred option for businesses looking to virtualize their operations. Earlier, it was believed that the SaaS model is meant only for small and medium businesses as big corporations prefer in-house IT infrastructure. But as the benefits of SaaS have become known, even the big corporates are adopting SaaS as their preferred deployment model.
What is SaaS?
SaaS or Software-as-a-Service is a cloud-based technology that enables software developers to deliver their products and services over the internet. With SaaS, you need not go through the hassles of downloading software and installing it before being able to use it. SaaS platforms allow the users to access various types of software over the internet with any compatible browser. This allows the users to access their data and files from anywhere, allowing completion of the required tasks from anywhere and at any time. Here are some of the essential features of cloud-native SaaS solutions which will certainly catch your attention:
- SaaS is a completely cloud-based offering, i.e.; there is no physical infrastructure involved.
- SaaS products come ready to use, i.e.; you simply need to log-in to your online account on the enterprise SaaS platform.
- SaaS products are updated automatically, i.e., every time you access the software, you get the latest features, updated by the vendor.
- There is no need to be present in front of a particular computer to access the software. SaaS allows you to access the software from any device anywhere and at any time.
- There is no huge capital investment, as SaaS platforms offer periodical subscriptions, i.e., monthly or yearly.
Difference between Cloud and SaaS
Cloud Computing is an extremely broad term that encompasses almost everything that is running on the internet. In other words, every service running in the cloud is covered under the ambit of cloud computing. While cloud computing has been around for some time, it still forms the backbone of modern technology. By this definition, SaaS products are a part of cloud. As a matter of fact, not only SaaS, IaaS and PaaS are also covered under the ambit of cloud computing. Usually, many users tend to confuse cloud computing and SaaS, as they have many features in common, but it is not the case. There are some inherent differences between SaaS and Cloud Computing, which you must know:
- Scope: Cloud computing is an extremely versatile technology that is used by application developers, software developers, IT departments, and avid computer users. SaaS is a finished software product that allows the users to access fully-formed end-user applications.
- Cost: Cost of accessing cloud computing is highly dynamic as it depends on your requirements and usage patterns. When using SaaS applications, you know the cost upfront as you are charged a specific subscription fee for allowing them access to the application.
- Users: SaaS products are targeted specifically at end-users; they can be individuals as well as corporates. Cloud computing has a broad set of target users, including developers, coders, programmers, supper-service providers, etc.
- Access: When using cloud computing, it is entirely your choice as to which infrastructure you are using for running and developing the applications. With SaaS, this decision rests entirely with the provider - which open-source SaaS platforms are being used.
Why is SaaS Offering a Great Choice for Complex Business Needs?
In addition to being extremely competitive, the business environment in the present times has become extremely complex as well. There are various stakeholders that are involved in the decision-making process, geographical boundaries are being obliterated, technology is upgrading at a rapid pace, and several other developments are making it extremely challenging for the businesses to maintain their competitive advantage.
This is where enterprise SaaS platforms have emerged as a savior for modern-day businesses by allowing them to leverage the many benefits offered by SaaS. The SaaS business model offers some really interesting advantages for the businesses, such as:
- Managing software versions: Under SaaS, software versioning is entirely the responsibility of the provider. You just need to apply the updates at your end, and the customers will access an updated version of the software. Bid adieu to costly on-site updates at every customer site.
- SaaS is scalable: SaaS applications are scalable, i.e., they can be programmed to handle high volumes of data and information in a seamless manner. This enables access to up to date reports for informed decision making.
- Minimal infrastructure cost: There is no need to invest significant time and resources for upgrading the physical IT infrastructure. With a cloud-based SaaS platform, software installation and updating can be completed in a matter of minutes.
- Flexible licensing: SaaS-based platforms come with various subscription options. Users have the choice to pay monthly or annual charges for the services. This allows one to ascertain the exact cost of availing the services well in advance.
Benefits of a SaaS Solution
Whether it be a SaaS product for baking or any other industry, there are numerous benefits that the users can avail themselves through this option. Some of the noteworthy benefits of ready-to-use SaaS solutions are listed below:
- SaaS solutions offer excellent flexibility as the users can access the application from any device at any given point in time. As such, users can access their data and files, even when they are traveling.
- SaaS solutions enjoy a high degree of transparency. Users are informed well in advance regarding the subscription charges which they need to pay for accessing the application. It allows for the allocation of necessary financial resources for the same.
- SaaS solutions are pocket-friendly. Users get access to the latest updates and features of an application without incurring any additional cost on infrastructure updates. The ongoing cost of software development is included in the subscription fees.
- The resources required for SaaS deployment in terms of time and money are much lower as compared to traditional infrastructure. Cloud-based SaaS applications can also be deployed across a wide geographic region simultaneously, enabling big corporations to ensure uniformity in their operation.
- Users have complete control over SaaS applications. They can add or remove any features or services as and when required. Separate user IDs can be created for different users as per requirement.
Considerations for a Successful Transition to s SaaS model
An increasing number of businesses are transitioning from on-premises software solutions to SaaS applications. If you are also considering joining the bandwagon and aspire for a successful transition to a SaaS-based platform, then here are some considerations that warrant your contemplation:
- Plan a SaaS strategy: You need to have a proper transition strategy in place when you are migrating to SaaS applications. You must fully understand the implications of the decision on the short-term and long-term prospects of your business. Study the various SaaS strategies available and then choose one which meets your requirements.
- Understand the implications: Do not opt for SaaS just because everyone else is doing it. Make sure you spend some time understanding the implications of this decision on the short-term and long-term prospects of your business.
- Manage the costs: While the initial cost of SaaS applications is much lower than traditional applications, this can change soon. As your organization grows and expands quickly, you must have adequate provision of funds for meeting the additional expenses on new subscriptions. Investing in an enterprise SaaS platform and then running out of money for the same will be detrimental for your business.
- Technical Expertise: As the SaaS applications are usually updated at a rapid pace, your personnel must be able to keep up with the pace. You should therefore make adequate arrangements for training and upskilling of your staff when you are migrating to SaaS.
- Choose a reliable provider: While outages on SaaS applications happen rarely, when they happen, the provider must be able to address the issue immediately. Go through the service agreement thoroughly before you make a decision.
The excellent potential of SaaS technology platforms is beyond any doubt as the benefits being offered to the users are extremely attractive. You should also contemplate migrating to SaaS applications to leverage these advantages for your business. Though, before making a final decision, weigh all the important factors to avoid any hassles later on.