Software-as-a-Service: Why your application belongs to the cloud as well

Software-as-a-service is the most growing part in the cloud computing market. More and more providers of classical software solutions make the change and offer their applications over the cloud. Learn why your application belongs to the cloud as well and why your customers but even you as a provider benefit from this step.

Software-as-a-Service: Warum auch Ihre Anwendung in die Cloud gehört

What means Software-as-a-service?

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the top layer of the cloud computing service model. It provides the user with complete applications. It can be understood as a kind of distribution model in which the use of software (licenses) is offered over the Internet by a third party provider. The third party provider does inter alia the maintenance, updating and hosting of the software. For the supplier, the advantage is that only one instance of the software must be provided on the servers which utilize a numerous of users simultaneously. If the software is brought to a current status, an update operation is sufficient in a central place and the updated software is available for all users at the same time. The advantage for the user is that only one device with a web browser and an Internet connection is sufficient to use services such as e-mail, office applications or ERP systems. The purchase and maintenance of large server environments and software packages is as well as eliminated like updating local applications. The third party provider always takes care of a current state of the software and provides the complete infrastructure for hosting the software. This also includes the storage of files and documents on the provider’s servers. Therefore the provider is responsible for all the necessary parts of the operations, such as availability, backup, redundancy, and also the power supply. Settlement takes place with the pay per use model. Here, the costs will be charged per user.

What means SaaS for your customers?

In short, software-as-a-service will make your customers’ lives easier and help them to invest selectively and only when necessary.

Manageable capital costs

An IT infrastructure includes inter alia local computer systems with which the staff do their work. On this numerous applications are installed that are settled firmly per user or computer system, no matter whether the current user of the system requires the application or not. Furthermore, for the central storage of data, communication and collaboration solutions such as e-mail or systems for time and attendance and corporate planning, server hardware and software are required in the backend. Also not forget the servers and software for the directory service, against the employees need to authorize. All the listed areas, and that’s only a part, lead to high investment costs. It should also be noted that this must be maintained and updated regularly all well.

Software-as-a-service reduces the major part of the above disadvantages of a local IT infrastructure. Not pinpoint high investment costs in licenses are eliminated, such as unused software licenses. Today companies have to do with a growing staff turnover. In addition, many rely on part-time or casual workers to compensate for a particular boom, which is above the average in the year. This requires appropriate licenses, so that each employee can work productively. The result is that over the year to many software licenses are available in the company and installed on the systems. By the unpredictable number of required employees either there is an over-investment or there is a shortage, which is usually solved by workarounds.

A software-as-a-service solution allows to add more users as needed within a short time and remove them again. This means the company actually pays only for the employee who requires a certain software.

The situation is similar with local computer systems and servers in the backend. The needed servers for e-mail and ERP systems are located within the infrastructure of the provider who is responsible for the maintenance, upgrade and administration. An investment in these back-end systems is eliminated. Moreover, no local performance computer systems are longer needed. Since the application is deployed and used via a web browser, inexpensive terminals or thin clients last out.

Always up to date

Software must constantly meet new requirements. Because due to new legal requirements or bugs and security vulnerabilities have slipped during the development process, which must be corrected. And of course on a regular basis to see new versions of software that bring new features, etc. with it. In a traditional IT infrastructure usually all this is performed manually by a user or better an administrator installation process or by automated systems. Either way, the IT staff is busy to first install updates on test systems to validate the behavior of the overall system.

A software-as-a-service application is always up to date. The provider works in the background to ensure that security issues, bug fixes, updates and new features are recorded, without the user or administrator is actively involved and in most cases, none of this notice.

Working location and platform independent

Traditional software applications are bound to a local computer system, that makes location and platform independent work difficult. With mobile devices such as notebooks, applications are indeed a bit portable, but still bound to this one device. In addition, the respective native application must also be available for the local operating system, which is not always the case.

Software-as-a-Service applications are used via a standard browser. Thus they are 100% location and platform independent. Even if an employee can’t use his usual system he still can access through the web browser to the application. Another advantage is that the access to critical data is always possible, since they are stored centrally in the backend of the SaaS application and it is therefore accessed from any employee who is entitled to.

What means SaaS for you?

Software-as-a-service will save you time, money and nerves.

Software costs

If a classic application is fully developed, the real work begins. How should the software be distributed, how to provide updates and how to respond if a bug is discovered when the correction is extremely important? These are just a few questions a provider needs to face up. Traditionally software is delivered as a volume in the form of a CD. On the one hand this means costs for media, packaging, logistics, etc. On the other side also a static version of the software that needs to be expanded with updates (on CD) after each new installation. But what about when the update also contains an error or is not compatible with certain other applications? The logistical process starts again. Over time it has become to provide software and updates as downloads. This has succeeded in cost savings, but the update problem largely remains. It’s similar with the release of a completely new software version with new features and design.

Software-as-a-service fully raises these issues. The application is ​​available online through a web browser, eliminating the need for any external logistic processes. It is the same with the delivering of updates. This is completely eliminated, because you as a provider of software have all the threads in your hand and maintain the changes, bug fixes, improvements and completely new versions at a central location.

Platform independence

Some software is only available for the well-known operating systems. The development and sale for the supposed small not worth it. This not only deters the occasional user, but can be carried away by statements that the provider is not open.

Software-as-a-service provides the platform independence of the application and thus a greater range and customer satisfaction. The application is exclusively available via a browser and works without the installation of additional software components. As a result, you just have to develop for the current default browser and the local operating system and all applications installed on it are not affect by your application.

Your application belongs to the cloud as well

If we compare the traditional software market and how software is developed, provided and consumed here, with cloud computing, one thing becomes very clear. The way software is delivered to the user has changed. Sending out volumes or providing updates are eliminated. Likewise, to install software or updates. Software is provided as a service from the cloud, accordingly software-as-a-service (SaaS). The provider has all filaments in his hand and the users do not notice an update, unless changes ​​to the surface were made. The user is not involved in the update process itself because he must not install or download anything. He consumes the software only through a web browser.


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By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.

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