Gone to the “Cloud” – almost everyone……sounds like a ballad from the 60′s doesn’t it?
What is the Cloud? Simply put, it is the Internet. The Cloud can be as big as you need it to be – without the costs and the infrastructure that have always been limiting factors.
Traditionally, software programs are dedicated to a single workspace, function one at a time and are limited in scope and size to the internal (IT) resources that are available. Business software delivery models have evolved tremendously over the last decade. We’ve gone from the old “DOS” (Disk Operating Systems) programs that reside on-premise to Windows® programs, also residing on-premise, to ‘off-site hosted’ programs residing on outside servers. Now there is “Software as a Service” (SaaS) via the Cloud.
The major differences are: ”You don’t necessarily own it anymore!” and “You don’t necessarily care where it is located anymore!” You simply pay to use the application and you can ‘reach out’ and access it anytime, anyplace from any Internet-connected device (PC, Laptop, Tablet or Smart Phone, etc) that you are comfortable using. You’re only responsible for paying a subscription to the service for as long as it meets your needs.
SaaS is typically defined by the delivery model rather than the underlying technology. A number of software vendors call themselves SaaS vendors and although any SaaS solution is [technically] ‘hosted’, the term ‘hosted’ is not synonymous with SaaS. Real SaaS Vendors support a single code base across all customers – also known as multi-tenancy!
In other words, real SaaS vendors develop, support and deploy a single version of software across all customers, enabling the vendor to focus on on-going value-added innovation. Traditional on-premise software vendors that host their on-premise applications and call it SaaS simply cannot offer the benefits of real SaaS because they must expend too many of their resources maintaining multiple versions of their applications as well as the broad matrix of supporting infrastructure to deliver the application. Because their customers are typically on different versions at any given time, these so called SaaS vendors are unable to share infrastructure and operational resources. As a result their customers don’t benefit from these efficiencies and wind up ‘footing the bill’ for maintaining upgrades which don’t come as frequently as they could. A true SaaS vendor with 1000 customers can upgrade all of them with a single upgrade to the Cloud. The on-premise (or installed) software vendor must send out 1000 individual upgrades and involve each customer in the process. The next upgrade may well be ready for release before the previous upgrade process is complete. The “hosted” software vendor without multi-tenancy, is not much more efficient – he will still need to upgrade all of his customers individually although he may send all of the upgrades to the same place in the ‘cloud’.
Major characteristics of Software as a Service (SaaS) are:
- customers share a single version of the software (application)
- customers share the same IT infrastructure and operational resources
- updates are included with the service at no extra charge
- customers enjoy world class security for data center operations, applications and data
- service level guarantees that define and insure up time, backup and disaster recovery
- ongoing maintenance, development and performance tuning
- no perpetual licenses – pay as you go pricing
The “Cloud” makes SaaS possible – it is “where it’s at!!”