With the cloud becoming more common and popular as a way to host and run a variety of applications, infrastructure, and services, you may hear the term Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) more often.
This article will cover what SaaS is, advantages and disadvantages, choosing when to use it, where to host it, and examples.
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SaaS stands for Software-as-a-Service. It is a cloud computing-based service that is generally subscription-based. The idea behind SaaS is that as a client, you do not need to worry about the underlying hardware and infrastructure to run an application and can access it from anywhere, when required, as long as you have a stable internet connection.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is usually delivered via the cloud. A vendor will host their application on the cloud. They will take care of maintenance, updates, and infrastructure. The vendor may host the application on their own cloud service if applicable, or use a third-party cloud provider such as Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
The users of the software can then access the applications via the internet, often from a web browser, usually with a subscription to control access.
SaaS applications often use a multitenant approach. This means that the software is hosted only once, but is available for each subscribed user or tenant.
The users won’t see that the application is actually one single instance of the server or cloud host, but it means only one single managed instance for the vendor.
The data is segregated between users which means privacy, with no data shared unless requested.
Although not always sharing the same characteristics, the following list is applicable to most SaaS examples:
SaaS, PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) are all different types of cloud computing and cover different parts of the stack, from hardware up to full platforms, allowing control over everything from the operating system to the database applications.
Many of the characteristics of a SaaS application are also advantages.
Ease of access
Although there are many advantages to SaaS, there are of course challenges and risks associated with it.
It can be hard to choose between SaaS and on-premise when deciding on a software service. However, there are some basic questions that can be answered to help with this choice.
Will off-the-shelf SaaS products offer the functionality required?
What customization options will be required?
How much budget is available for a SaaS solution?
How much does data ownership matter?
When it comes to choosing the right product, this all depends on the requirements. There are a few basic things to consider:
There are many SaaS products available that fall under many different categories but here are a few examples:
Microsoft Office 365
Adobe Creative Cloud
SaaS is said by market experts to have a bright future. With the rise of collaboration across teams and companies all globally distributed, SaaS will continue to play a larger role.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also going to play a big role. AI can be used for natural language processing (NLP), identifying data patterns, and even improving security. Paired with SaaS, this allows for more control over business processes.
With the subscription model making many SaaS applications affordable to more people, the number of SaaS products and numbers of users will only increase.
In this article, you have learned about what SaaS is, how it works as well as the benefits, risks, and challenges. This will help steer you towards making a decision between SaaS products and a self-hosted solution on-premise.
You also learned about different examples of SaaS including MongoDB Atlas, a cloud-hosted Database-as-a-Service.
SaaS is used as an alternative to traditional self-hosted software solutions. It is a subscription-based model allowing access to as many features as required available in a product or suite of products. The software is cloud-hosted and so allows for access from any internet-connected device. It is used for when a client does not want to be responsible for the underlying infrastructure and maintenance.
For businesses, SaaS can help reduce upfront costs as well as the costs of ongoing support and maintenance. The subscription-based model, supporting a more rolling payment structure, can help small businesses adopt SaaS applications faster—not just enterprises. The cloud-hosted solution also means access from more locations and not just in an office environment, supporting the more globally distributed style of today’s workforce.