Software as a Service: An Overview

Just a few years ago, many of us were not aware of the word ‘SaaS’. The startup era has changed it, however. You would find tons of YouTube videos and blog articles on SaaS and how to start one for yourself. Not only this, words like PaaS, IaaS have also started to become the talk of the town.

The very first question that might arise is what exactly is SaaS?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a cloud-based solution for your needs. You might have desktop software such as Microsoft Office for your needs but it is not a SaaS. On the other hand, Google Docs is a common example of SaaS. In simple words, a software that provides a solution on a cloud is SaaS. You need the internet to run this kind of software.

The advantage of building a SaaS solution is that you would not have to take care of everything at your end. Of course, coding the solution and keeping it secure is your responsibility but setting up hardware to host it is never going to be your responsibility unless you are crazy and want to set up your server.

Even big software solutions like Salesforce, Atlassian, and others use third-party cloud services to host their solutions such as Amazon AWS.

Now you know the basics of SaaS, let’s see how a SaaS application works.

How SaaS works:

SaaS works in the same way as any other website. You have the user interface to interact with the application, your data is and the SaaS application is stored on the cloud, and using a variety of different services, SaaS gets delivered to you.

Databases, networks, servers, and APIs are some of the most important elements that are involved in the working of a Software as a Service application.

There are several ways through which a SaaS application can be integrated into another SaaS application. The use of APIs is vital for this. DropBox is a great example of SaaS.

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS:

We know about SaaS but what other technologies are available? Let’s see PaaS first.

PaaS or Platform as a Service is the most popular among PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS. It provides a development environment and hence most of the PaaS users are developers who host their applications on PaaS. Services like Amazon AWS are a prime example of PaaS.

IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service provides an instant computing infrastructure for your software. You do not have to worry about buying the hardware, setting up the server, and managing the hardware on daily basis. The IaaS provider handles everything on your behalf. You just have to code and manage your application. Microsoft Azure is a great example of IaaS.

Now that we have seen what SaaS is. Let us take a look at the advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of SaaS:

Following are some of the important advantages of SaaS:

  • Deploy More, Worry Less: One of the biggest advantages of SaaS is not to worry about installing the hardware and then maintaining it on a day-to-day basis. One can simply buy the service and worry more about their code than the hardware.

  • Scalability & Growth: Scalability is a major issue for many growing platforms and services. With SaaS, the problem of scalability gets solved. You can either increase the specifications of your server or decrease it. It all comes down to the users.

  • Easy Accessibility: Most SaaS apps can be accessed from any device – be it a PC or a smartphone. Therefore, you never need to worry about all the technicalities and how the SaaS would perform on different devices.

  • Ease of Use: One big advantage of SaaS is the security and ease of use. You will never have to worry about security as the SaaS provider will take care of it. Using a SaaS is easy. There are hundreds of tools already deployed on the SaaS application and with an easy initial setup, you can start using them.

Disadvantages of SaaS:

While there are many advantages of SaaS, it also comes with several disadvantages too. Here are some of the important ones:

  • Lack of Control: SaaS provider manages most of your things and hence you have the least of control over a SaaS. This is one major disadvantage of having a SaaS. If the SaaS provider gets hacked, you are at the risk of exposing your important information.

  • Privacy Issues: Your data will be stored on some designated servers as provided by the SaaS company. You do not have control over the servers. Your users may be in the US but their data might be stored in the EU or vice versa. There are several privacy issues with SaaS but these come at a cost of convenience.

  • Limited Add-ons: SaaS provider provides add-ons and most of the time you are unable to install third-party software on your own. This in my opinion is of the biggest disadvantages of SaaS.

These were some of the most important advantages and disadvantages of SaaS. Of course, there are many more but for now, you need to know only these.

Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba provide amazing SaaS services to build custom SaaS services. Other giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, and many others provide their applications on the cloud too!

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