What is ‘The Cloud?’ As far as buzzwords go, this is a particularly popular one. Ever since software giants such as Google and Microsoft began illustrating just how popular web-based applications can be, more and more software companies have taken to the cloud to reach a wider audience and keep up with the expectations of their end users. Software as a service is a relatively old idea, but recent trends have shown an upswing in its popularity and utility. Let’s see what being in the cloud really means, and why it might behoove you to choose a true cloud-based software for your next solution.
So…What is this whole Software as a Service Thing?
At the most basic level, software as a service (or SaaS) is a method of providing applications over the Internet, without requiring on-site software or hardware maintenance. The chances are very high that you’ve probable already experienced this in one way or another; have you been using Google Apps or Office 365 lately? If so, then you are already deploying some examples of Software as a Service to your end users.
It’s basic cloud computing, but with a more technical face. The cloud can be very difficult to pin down – ask ten friends or coworkers about it and you are very likely to come away with ten different answers. Software as a service, however, is much more targeted for business to understand and easily integrate and deploy.
There are a whole host of benefits to look at when considering a software as a service solution. Not every solution is a perfect fit for every environment, and knowing what you need is an important step to understanding if software as a service is the right direction for your business. As a start, Steve Flick has a great introduction on 10 Reasons why SaaS is Great for your Business. Here, I’m going to take a deeper dive into three reasons that might just make it worth your while.
The Argument for Total Cost of Ownership
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a uniquely interesting phrase because it encompasses so much within a small window of relevancy. Put basically, TCO for software as a service references the financial impact that a given software or platform will have on your business.
That sounds like a pretty standard practice, right?
Unfortunately, TCO goes way beyond the notion of product pricing– a true TCO plan will address costs (or lack thereof)
relating to a wide array of things such as: hardware/software, in-house support, infrastructure, downtime, compliance,
migration, etc. The list goes on and on.
For many businesses, software as a service seems like a great choice! Often, these businesses are absolutely correct. However, without properly calculating the TCO of adopting and implementing software as a service for your environment, the decision could come back to haunt you in the end.
Scalability - Go Big, Go Small but You Don't Have to Go Home
Software as a service has a major benefit in the form of scalability. The good men and women over at Oracle have a brilliant article on Cloud-Computing and SaaS that briefly touches on scalability – and the reasons that scalability is such a huge factor to consider when looking at making the jump to Cloud SaaS.
It is silly to assume that your organization is going to retain the same exact amount of end users for the years to come. The simple fact is: people move on and things change (more on that in a moment).
With on premise servers or user-based pricing services – adapting to the changing number of end-users can be difficult, and can be more than just your typical headache. The jump to software as a service offers appropriate opportunities for scalability within a host of different aspects; scalability that would have been grievously difficult to handle in previous on-premise scenarios.
Chief among these scalability aspects is the ease with which software as a service allows businesses to adapt to greater or lesser usage needs as the situation requires – without changing everything over to a brand new solution every single time. Of course, certain solutions have particularly competitive pricing models that step away from the typical per-user basis, but scalability can still be an issue.
Implementing a software as a service infrastructure makes scaling up or down a synch because software is not tied to the premises or the users directly. Everything is hosted ‘in the cloud’ and changes out there are quicker, simpler, and take less of a hassle on your end. It is a move towards effectiveness, simplicity and convenience.
Who could say no to that?
Addressing Change – Internally and Externally
The big, terrifying monster lurking in the shadow of the IT Departments server closet. Nobody likes change – despite the fact that technology continually changes and outdates itself in increasingly shorter periods of time. These changes are just physical, however; processes and protocols take longer to change, and are slower to go out of date.
Software as a service offerings - the cloud and its ilk - they have ushered in a new era of change. The applications that business one used so often are now requiring cloud access – users are entering the digital world with expectations of software access without having to download a program file.
It is change on a fundamental level and yet, software as a service provides both an avenue for change and an answer to the fears that said change can bring about. With a SaaS solution in place, adapting to the increasing popularity of cloud application and cloud access is simple, and continuing to adapt to future change while meeting the needs of your users is as simple as updating your services with your vendor.
Software as a Service - Considered
With more and more businesses and consumers alike jumping on the cloud bandwagon, a proper understanding of software as a service will help you better navigate the minefield of questions that need to be considered before making the switch yourself. Consider your True cost of ownership, the necessity for your particular business to make the change, and whether or not it will benefit your end users in the long run. Using software as a service can be a huge benefit to any business – find the right vendor to make certain that Software as a Service is the perfect fit for you.