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What is SaaS?

What is SaaS?

Tech_image_2Software as a Service (SaaS; pronounced / sæs/ or/ sa:s/) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software.” SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. – Wikipedia



SaaS, or software as a service, is software that is made available by a service provider to consumers, usually through the browser.  SaaS evolved from the application service providers of the late 1990’s.  The software itself is not managed or owned by the consumer, it is delivered and contracted…usually on a subscription basis.  3rd party providers utilize multitenant environments for common and often complex applications so that consumers have an acceptable degree of isolation within a shared environment.  This could be shared computing and shared codebase, but isolated configuration, user data, and company data.  Often times, 3rd party providers also include the right mix of related applications within a given space, so that consumers can benefit from lower cost and quicker time to market while launching whole new ecosystems of related applications using the service provider’s platform.  The computing environment is usually virtualized for these modular, service oriented applications.  This makes scaling out, in, up, and down very easy.  Consumers can easily match not only seats with demand, but computing power as well.

Given the serious benefits to small, medium, and large businesses, it’s easy to recognize that this is a huge space.  SaaS sales for 2015 are expected to be in the 20+ billion dollar neighborhood.  Customer relationship management continues to be the largest market for SaaS, but other spaces such as healthcare and human resource management are gaining ground.  There are many periphery enablers and related technologies of SaaS that make it possible.  These technologies include platform as a service, infrastructure as a service and cloud computing in general.  Considering these enabling technologies, it’s not easy to understand the delineation between all of the different ‘…as a service’ offerings in the cloud computing space.  Infographics often leave a lot to be desired…just have a glance at any USA Today…but the infographic below, created by IBM’er Albert Barron, does a great job analogizing the various ‘…as a service’ spaces to well-known pizza options.

Pizza as a service

As a traditional small business owner, I have utilized many SaaS solutions.  Google Apps, Gmail for Business, FrontDesk, Zoho, Facebook, etc. are all SaaS tools in my toolbox with distinct functional purposes that add serious value to my small business.  Two things they all have in common are that they are cheap to use and easy to implement and operate.  Talk about enabling small business…I couldn’t imagine life as a small business owner without them.

For a little more information on SaaS, please check out any of the links below.

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