Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a service or SaaS as it is commonly known, is simpler to explain as "on-demand software" supplied by ISVs or "Application-Service-Providers" (ASPs), it is a software delivery mode in which applications and associated data are centrally hosted on a cloud based system.

SaaS is typically accessed by users using a client application via a web browser on their own mobile or static equipment. i.e.: Desk PC, Laptop, Smartphone or Tablet.

SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including Office & Messaging software, DBMS software, Management software, CAD software, Development software, Virtualization , accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), management information systems (MIS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing, human resource management (HRM), content management (CM) and service desk management.

SaaS has been incorporated into the strategy of all leading enterprise software companies. One of the biggest benefits in its use is the potential to reduce IT support costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the SaaS provider.

Configuration and customisation

SaaS applications generally support application customization, like traditional enterprise software, a single customer can alter the set of configuration options that affect its functionality and look-and-feel. I.e.:  customers can change an application's look so that it appears to be having their own brand, or if required can be co-branded, many SaaS applications let customers alter and adjust specific elements through an admin log on into a self-service interface or by working with application provider staff to introduce a custom logo and sometimes a set of custom colours.

Each client may have its own settings for the configuration options, with the application being customizable to the degree it was designed for based on a set of predefined configuration options.

Key Points to Consider are:

  • Accelerated feature delivery
  • Applications are more frequently updated than traditional software, in many cases on a weekly or monthly basis. 
  • The application is hosted centrally, so an update is decided and executed by the provider, not by customers.
  • The application only has a single configuration, making development testing faster.
  • The application vendor has access to all customer data, expediting design and regression testing.
  • The solution provider has access to user behaviour within the application, usually via web analytics, making it easier to identify areas worthy of improvement.

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