What is SaaS (Software as a service)? Advantages and disadvantages of software as a service
More and more often we talk about Cloud services, widespread management of resources, as well as the possibility, when purchasing new software, to choose it as-a-Service (Software as a Service, precisely - SaaS) .

It is a model of application software distribution where a software manufacturer develops, operates (directly or through third parties) and manages a web application that makes it available to its customers via the Internet upon subscription.

Some examples can be online e-mail access, smartphone or tablet applications for managing calendars, productivity tools like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and can be presented for free or for a fee.

What is SaaS?

Software as a service, or SaaS, is a model of application software distribution where a software manufacturer develops, operates (directly or through third parties) and manages a web application that makes available to its customers via Internet (by subscription); often it is a cloud computing service.

The concept of "software as a service" began to circulate in the year 2000 and is mainly associated with Tim O'Reilly's essay on The Open Source Paradigm Shift as well as brands such as WebEx Communications and Remote Business. This concept has also appeared in the article Strategic Backgrounder: Software as a Service published by the eBusiness Division of Software & Information Industry's (SIIA).

How does the SaaS work?

With the SaaS, the software is provided centrally as a service via the Internet. Users create individual accounts and any costs incurred will be billed monthly or annually. Applications are not executed on your computer, but directly online. Provision, maintenance and updating of programs are the direct responsibility of the provider. Users only need to access the software via a web browser. This is usually possible with any Internet-enabled device, so the user only needs to access the online tool with his / her access data.

The most popular SaaS programs include project management applications, content management systems (CMS), programs for accounting, file management, e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), archive management and human resource planning. In the past, companies were often forced to install multiple programs and purchase and manage their licenses. The SaaS model, on the other hand, is much easier to use and is becoming increasingly popular.

Why should every company have one? What are the advantages of the SaaS model?

The services that a company needs for its internal organization, in fact, can be optimized with a solution that allows its adaptability and scalability - both in functional and economic terms - depending on the services subscribed or the number of registered users.

In essence, it can be defined as a rental of the use of an application to which users connect via the Internet. The advantages of adopting the SaaS model have been effectively summarized in 5 points:

1. Access to sophisticated applications: in order to provide SaaS applications to users, it is not necessary to buy, install, update or manage hardware, middleware or software. Thanks to this distribution model, even the most sophisticated business applications, such as ERP and CRM, are available to companies that, by choice or by necessity, decide not to invest in infrastructure and proprietary software.

2. Payment only for the resources used: it is possible to reduce expenses because the SaaS service offers vertical scalability based on the level of use. Many software houses, in fact, complement their SaaS applications with real virtual shops where they can buy extensions and services complementary to the main software.

3. Use of free client software: users can run most SaaS applications directly from a web browser (or an app) without the need to download and install any complex software. Finally, the software delivered as a service, as residents of a proprietary platform of the operator, will always be optimized and updated, regardless of the device used to connect.

4. Mobility of the workforce: the SaaS model makes it easy to guarantee mobility to the company workforce: users can in fact access SaaS applications from any device connected to the Internet. Access to an online platform also reduces security issues related to the use of external or mobile devices.

5. Access to data from anywhere: with data stored in the cloud, users can access information from any mobile device or computer connected to the Internet. Furthermore, cloud storage can provide disaster recovery solutions and data protection in the event of device failure by a user or company computer systems.

The transition to one or more SaaS services makes a careful choice of the connectivity service provider fundamental, able to guarantee innovation, security and efficient assistance service.

Advantages of the SaaS

The SaaS is a very attractive cloud solution that is gaining ground in many areas, considering that it offers many advantages both for users and for companies compared to locally installed software, such as:
  • A quick start-up and immediate supply of services to customers: instead of sending software packages and issue licenses, the equipment must only "access the network" to become operational.
  • The maintenance entrusted to the provider reduces the workload of its collaborators: in particular, IT teams no longer have to worry about software installations, licenses, upgrades and maintenance, but can concentrate their resources on equally important activities for the company.
  • L ' easy integration of new employees is no longer necessary to issue licenses to new employees or install the software. It is usually sufficient to re-register in the online tool, thus facilitating the integration of new collaborators, who can start their work in less time.
  • The use of services both inside and outside the office by different devices: the software is no longer necessarily tied to a single workstation. With access data, users can use the applications provided even when they are not in the office or other systems. This also greatly simplifies the home office concept.
  • The cloud architecture offers all users the same security standards: by storing all data remotely on a cloud server, data loss due to local hardware and software problems is minimized. Smaller companies enjoy the same safety standards as larger companies.
  • New functions and updates are implemented and integrated much faster: since the software is executed on the provider side, the latter assumes responsibility for its management. In this way, the user can be sure of always using the latest version of the services.
  • User-oriented: companies do not pay lump sum payments, but per user. Especially for small companies, software licenses were often too expensive in the past in relation to their size. Thanks to the payment options per user, business expenses can be efficiently controlled.

Disadvantages and risks of the SaaS

The disadvantages and possible risks of the SaaS are largely limited in impact. The SaaS model is spreading rapidly and competitive pressure contributes to the continuous improvement of data security and performance issues. However, it is important to be aware of the following risks associated with using the SaaS:
  • The transfer of data to the provider: even if the manager promises maximum secrecy and security and the data is contractually protected, confidential company data is not in your possession, but is kept by the service. Data leaks, hacker attacks and other incidents that jeopardize the confidentiality of your data are generally beyond your control. The security of cloud services remains controversial. In Europe, the new general data protection regulation could provide for stricter and more detailed regulation in this regard, if applicable to the respective provider.
  • Dangers due to the cessation of services: if the SaaS provider fails or is forced to interrupt the service for any other reason, it will not only be the use of the services to become impossible, but theoretically, all the data and documents could also be lost. However, it is rare that the SaaS are suddenly interrupted. In general, interested providers allow users the time to save their data and documents on other computer media or servers. In some cases, a service is transferred to another, possibly together with the related data.
  • Requires a fast and constant Internet connection: the SaaS is an online service, so a good Internet connection is essential. Many providers also offer offline mode, which allows you to work without the Internet and synchronize data as soon as you go back online. However, to take full advantage of the SaaS, a constant Internet connection is required. Network problems can cause annoying loading times in web tools, which, in turn, can cause economic damage.
  • No use of the software in case of inactivity: similarly, many SaaS cannot be used if the provider must temporarily interrupt the provision of online services, for example due to maintenance work or server failure.
  • Compatibility required with operating systems and browsers: web tools can have different performances depending on the browser used. Compatibility problems may also occur in relation to the operating system, especially if MacOS is used. The tools of most SaaS providers are still optimized for Windows. However, problems with browser selection are extremely rare.
  • Commissioning of incomplete software: since the SaaS is neither developed nor sold in the traditional way, SaaS suppliers may be tempted to make their software available at an early stage of development. This can happen before extensive beta tests have been performed or important functions have been implemented. In general, SaaS products are subjected to much less rigorous quality controls.