SaaS (Software as a Service) is one of the buzzwords you hear when discussing cloud solutions. Basically it’s a piece of software that, instead of installing it locally, you access via a browser or similar interface. The application itself is supplied by a third party. It is hosted in the cloud, and can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection. SaaS requires no installation, with the exception of a browser plug-in used in some cases. This is not really something new, and many applications like social media, email or project management software already use this type of implementation.
Web-based email is a great example of this type of service. You may not realise it, as cloud services haven’t been all the rage until recently, but all your emails are hosted on servers provided by a third-party vendor (like Microsoft or Google) and thus qualify as a cloud service. Other examples include social media sites such as Facebook, also a cloud SaaS Service – you don’t need to install anything and the interface can be accessed directly in your web browser.
The advantages of SaaS services and applications are numerous, especially if you do not already have an extensive network of servers and hardware at the office:
- No need for expensive and maintenance prone hardware. All you need to use the software is provided from the vendor. No need to install and maintain software on your hard drive. For a smaller company this can save a substantial amount of money as employees could even bring their own devices to work on.
- Accessibility when working remotely. Be it a business trip or when working from home, as long as you have an internet connection the software is available. Just because you are not physically present in the office, productivity does not have to suffer.
- Updates are handled automatically. As the software is located with the vendor, any updates and/or bug fixes will be taken care of by them. This leaves you with less of a headache and you can always count on the service being up-to-date.
- Device and Operating system compatibility. Most reputable SaaS companies support all the different web browsers out there, and as such you can access the software from any device running any operating system. This includes Windows, Linux, IOS and Android.
- If you need more licences or more disk space, you can customise this to your liking. On top of that it’s also fairly quick, compared to buying new hardware and installing it on in-house servers.
- Easy of setting up. Adding new people, be it new members of the team or clients, is simplified as there is no need to install anything.
- Secure storage of information. Most web-based applications are heavily encrypted, which gives an advantage when you store information in the cloud instead of your computer. If you lose your device because of theft or hardware failure, all information is still accessible in the cloud.
Utilising cloud solutions and software that doesn’t need to be installed is most likely the path forward, and we will see a rise in such services as time progresses. Be prepared to see more complex systems (such as CRM, Project Management Software and even Accounting Software) being accessed via a web interface. More and more applications will make the move over to the cloud and focus will shift to a more flexible work environment where results are more important than attendance.