What is Software as a Service (SaaS)? Gartner (here) describes software as a service as:
"software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at anytime on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics."
So in essence, software that someone else manages and looks after, which you use on a subscription basis.
Examples you've possibly heard of include:
- Office 365
- Gsuite / Google docs
These are all products which you purchase a subscription for, often paid for on a monthly basis. You don't need to put in any infrastructure to make it work, all you need is an internet connected device and you're away.
It's an all in service, support is provided by the company selling you the service (the provider) and there are no maintenance headaches, everything is managed by the provider, you just consume the service and when you're done you stop paying for it.
So why are these so suited to small businesses.
First and foremost it's cost, or probably better described as capital expenditure. There is no massive outlay at the beginning to use these services. You don't have to buy a server and employ a small IT army to get it up and running. You just purchase your subscription and off you go.
These products are by design very easy to scale up and down. Following a traditional model if you had a 6 month project where you needed to temporarily double your workforce, you'd need to have built that capacity into the service when you first installed it. Or you'd need to spend time and money building and upgrading your system to handle that capacity.
With SaaS products you just buy more subscriptions for the duration of the project, once the project's done, just remove them from your subscription.
You're a small business, you don't have a in house IT team but you need your essential systems to work when they're needed.
If you were running the infrastructure yourself and something goes wrong, you're unlikely to have built in redundancy, so a minor problem becomes a major one, you're stuck. You'll likely need to get someone in to fix it and all this is going to take time and cost money
With SaaS, none of this is your problem. You're not responsible for the servers at all and the companies that provide this software will have in place that any issues should barely be felt by the end users.
That said let's not be naïve, these services do sometimes have problems. However they have uptime guarantees normally in the region of 99.9% or greater. On top of that, they will have teams of experts looking into the issue to ensure they meet their targets.
This leads us on to the next point.
Ease to move
You're not tied in beyond your subscription term. If a service you're using isn't up to scratch, it's easy to move and the amount of money invested is limited.
Odds are there's another company out there doing pretty much the same thing. This means that SaaS companies are striving for more uptime and better customer service. Not only to keep you as a customer but to entice away those who are with their competition as the blockers to move are minimal.
It's important to remember that number of these services don't guarantee your data, just the service.
However there are a number of cloud backup providers who can manage the backup process in it's entirety, for very minimal costs. You don't have to worry about backup tapes or making sure that they run successfully.
It's backing up data from one cloud to another, giving you redundancy of data and allowing you to get back to the way the data was on a certain date.
At SynEngin we're partnered with a cloud backup provider, CloudAlly, I'll delve more into cloud backups in the future blog.
To sum up, SaaS products are perfectly suited for small growing businesses who don't have deep pockets for large capital expenditure. If you're looking to implement some new software and want some advice then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us at SynEngin (www.synengin.com). Book yourself a free 1 hour consultation here