“Software as a Service” (SaaS) is a new way of thinking about acquiring, maintaining, and paying for the software that businesses run on.
In a nutshell, SaaS lets businesses pay a monthly subscription fee according to the number of users that will be using said software and manage everything via the cloud. This replaces the old way of doing things, which was coughing up cash per license, per user, which was far more expensive.
It also moves software licensing costs from a capital expenditure, to an operational expenditure.
One of the biggest benefits is that SaaS dramatically lowers startup costs for companies looking to get up and running. Compare buying 15 copies of Microsoft Office for a modest staff complement at thousands of rands each, to 15 Office 365 subscriptions at barely a hundred bucks per month each, and the benefits start to show themselves. Add in that running costs become predictable and manageable, and cloud starts to make really, really good sense.
And since the software is delivered via the internet, maintaining it on your end is a simple matter of keeping the PCs it runs on connected (or make sure they connect periodically if they’re on the road a lot). Updates will download and install automatically as soon as they’re ready, and the software makers will deliver bug fixes, security patches, and sometimes even new functionality that way, and it’s all included in the price of your subscription.
Plenty of big-name software companies have moved to a SaaS model, from Microsoft to IBM to Oracle and others, each offering their own software on some sort of a subscription service.
Some things to keep in mind
While the benefits of SaaS are many and varied, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering a move to cloud software.
- Data security. Your data is stored on your cloud software provider’s infrastructure, and is thus out of your direct control.
- Latency: Since the software is hosted in a datacentre somewhere, the speed at which it can be accessed comes into play. Doing so via the internet is never going to be as fast as it is over a corporate network.
- Once you’re signed up with a SaaS provider, switching can be a laborious process.
- Should the vendor go out of business, you may lose access to the software and any associated data.
- SLAs are required to ensure a guaranteed level of access and response times to any issues.
- New software that’s available via the cloud may require staff training to bring them up to speed.
On balance, however, the benefits of Software as a Service far outweigh the concerns, and acquiring, installing, and using the various packages on offer is far smoother than the old way of paying for it up front and then doing the installation, support, and maintenance of it all yourself.
If you’re a small company, SaaS can save you a lot of money in the short and medium-term. And if you’re a startup, paying a relatively small monthly subscription for the software you need makes far more sense than spending a bunch of money you don’t necessarily have just to get going.
The beauty of SaaS is it’s so easy for businesses of all sizes to grasp, and as more affordable high-bandwidth connections become ubiquitous, the move to the cloud for most things is almost inevitable.
We’ll end off this post with a quick summary of 5 things to ask of any potential cloud software provider:
- Ensure that you are entitled to a response time to incidents that’s within a guaranteed window.
- Make sure that they offer a guaranteed availability of services that’s in the 99th percentile.
- Ask if they have a way for you to manage and monitor your usage and licenses 24/7 so you’re never surprised by unexpected costs.
- Check whether 24/7 support is included in your subscription, or if it’s tiered and costs vary according to your requirements.
- Find out if there’s a single support number to contact, or if there are different numbers for different types of queries. A single point of contact is best.
To find out more about the various SaaS packages Tarsus On Demand has to offer, and to kickstart your Software as a Service journey, contact them on 011 531 1000, or drop them an email.