Software as a Service, also known as SaaS, has become popular for many businesses to access cutting-edge software applications. SaaS can be a great tool for small and medium-size businesses looking to get high production value without paying high production costs. It enables companies to shift the burden of high hardware, maintenance, and IT staffing to a third party vendor, while still reaping the benefits the software provides.
One of the most common applications of SaaS is Microsoft’s Office 365. Traditionally Microsoft Office was a series of linked software applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. These were purchased and installed on each individual user’s computer. So, if a company had 100 users, they would buy 100 copies of the software and install it on each machine. Microsoft Office 365 can now be accessed, through the cloud, by users who purchase a subscription. These users simply use their web browser from any device with Internet access to use the software. This increases the availability to any licensed user with cloud access and decreases the actual physical locations to be maintained.
Microsoft Office 365 is just one of many applications that use the cloud as a central access point. The basic idea is the software is running on hardware owned by a third party vendor. The vendor assumes the responsibility for maintaining the hardware, performing software updates and patches, and handling security. This shifts those responsibilities away from traditional internal IT staffs to the outside vendor, both lowering IT costs and increasing the ability of IT staff to focus on other pressing needs of the company.
When determining whether or not to go with the SaaS, one needs to determine if the yearly cost is less than the cost to purchase the licenses for the individual computers. SaaS is priced as a subscription service, unlike traditional software, which is sold with a license and an up-front cost. SaaS is often recommended for small to medium businesses that are looking to lower their initial entry costs. When it comes down to determining if SaaS is right for you, you need to determine what your current needs are and what your future needs will be.
With SaaS, customers can configure their options to fit their own needs; they determine the parameters so the application can be customized specifically for them. As well, the applications can be updated live, as new updates are released, which means you will always have the most current version of the software. When purchasing the program outright the updates have to be purchased as they come out and staff time needs to be dedicated to installing them.
Some of the many benefits of Software as a Service include lower up-front costs because there is usually no hardware to be purchased or software to be installed. This reduces the stress on your IT Staff. Another advantage includes the ability to access everything, at any time, from anywhere, 24×7. The information stored is always held on backup servers so there is no risk of data loss and security measures are always taken to prevent loss or theft of your data or information.
SaaS vendors are able to invest more in security for their systems than most small to medium-sized businesses can afford. They also regularly complete audits to test the security of the systems. By outsourcing these software maintenance issues, your IT department can focus more on your business and less on the being reactive to problems that may pop up from the software. Your IT department is given more opportunities to help your business achieve your goals rather than fixing problems that pop up with software issues.
A question that is often asked about SaaS is “who owns the data”? This is something that should be addressed when speaking with a vendor about their service. Buyers should ensure that their service level agreement (SLA) states who owns the data, what security requirements are expected if there is a requirement for data encryption, and maintenance schedules. It should also be established that your company has the ability to export your data and back it up to your business if desired.
SaaS can also be a major component of both your business continuity and disaster recovery plans. In the event of loss of hardware or service, on your end, you can quickly return to business as usual since the software and data reside in the cloud and do not have to be rebuilt locally.
Clarus Communications has worked extensively, to deploy Software as a Service solution with our clients, both in St. Louis, Missouri and across the country. We invite you to contact us today at 314-801-6700 to learn how Software as a Service can benefit your business and save you money.