Software as a Service (Saas) is a business model where applications are managed and hosted within a service provider’s data centers. Access to these applications occurs on a subscription basis through an internet connection. In recent years, SaaS has been adopted by many leading organizations, including Microsoft and Apple, for their top software products. Office 365, for example, is an SaaS product offered.
This type of business model has been in existence since the turn of the century. It has some unique advantages that can help people and businesses, but there are certain disadvantages that must be considered. If you’re thinking about an SaaS product, here are the pros and cons to think about.
What Are the Pros of Software As a Service?
The primary advantage of using SaaS is that it creates a very neat package of services that is bundled into one overall cost. Usage rights, ongoing maintenance, and any needed technical support are all rolled into one fee that includes access to the software. In return, businesses are able to have the complete data access they need as if they had the information stored on site.
1. It provides numerous cost savings opportunities.
With SaaS, there is never a need to install, upgrade, and maintain IT infrastructure. Everything is handled through the cloud or over the internet. The cost of the subscription includes any upgrades to the program that may happen so additional software expenses are not necessary. When there is a short- or medium-term need, it provides a very affordable solution.
2. It is completely scalable.
With traditional software packages, you typically need to purchase additional licenses or install the same software product on numerous stations. With SaaS, access happens online, so the product is very easy to scale. Users just need to log into the software being used and they’ll have the same access as everyone else without the need to increase internal server capacities. The licenses aren’t permanent either and many can be adjusted on a monthly basis.
3. There is complete global accessibility.
When SaaS is being used, all that someone needs is access to a fast enough internet connection to be able to be productive. This allows workers to be able to access projects from the smartphones, tablets, or computers anywhere in the world. This allows employees to incorporate work into their life instead of making life fit into a work routine, which keeps morale levels higher and gives employers some flexibility in their office arrangements.
4. SaaS is incredibly easy to try and upgrade as needed.
All of the upgrade issues that you deal with internally go away with an SaaS subscription. All upgrades happen through the cloud, including software and hardware upgrades and updates, which allows you or the IT staff to be able to implement integration tasks instead of being forced to handle routine maintenance issues.
5. It is resilient.
Instead of dealing with backup tapes, data hacks, and all of the other ways that data can be lost today, the cloud service that provides the SaaS provides a very resilient and low maintenance system of backing up data. Even if a disaster happens and your entire technology supports are wiped out of existence, a simple download from the server can get you back up and running once again.
What Are the Cons of Software As a Service?
The primary disadvantage of SaaS is that it is a third party service. What if a business subscribes to this service and keeps their data in the cloud and then the SaaS shuts down? The company is then forced to scramble around to find another compatible provider and one may not exist. In the meantime, the data must be stored somewhere and the internal resources an agency may have might not be capable of meeting those needs.
1. There are still going to be security issues.
Even though the data is at a remote center, a company or individual has no control over the business processes that protect their information. Attacks can happen to the third-party provider and become a security nightmare. If there are multiple SaaS subscriptions in place and there’s a disgruntled employee with access, a lot of damage can happen quickly. Even removing one person’s access from multiple platforms can be time consuming.
2. There’s no guarantee of 100% uptime.
Being on the cloud means there’s always a change that an outage may occur. There are many ways to interrupt a downstream signal. If the down time is lengthy, this can affect the profitability of the organization because they don’t have access to the data that is needed. It is very important to examine the history of an SaaS provider and their uptime reputation before making a final decision. Most solutions provide at least a 99.999% uptime guarantee, which seems good, but basically means there are about 5 minutes of outages planned per day. Every additional decimal point after the 99% has an increased cost that some businesses may not be able to afford.
3. There may be regulatory issues that must be considered.
Sometimes the data that a business produces must be protected in some very specific ways. A good example of this would be an individual patient’s medical files. A business must determine on their own whether or not their SaaS subscription can meet the regulatory requirements that a company may face in regards to their data management. Failings typically fall on the company, not the software provider, if regulatory control is lacking.
4. Exit strategies may not exist.
A famous statistic that many quote is that out of every business that is started today, only 5% of them will still be operating in 5 years. Start-ups come and go all the time. These businesses all generate data that has to go somewhere. The mobility of data is also important to consider if a switch to a new SaaS becomes necessary. Knowing what the exit strategy is, if one even exists, is important to the evaluation process.
5. They can be very difficult to integrate.
Multiple SaaS products may not work very well with each other. Sometimes they don’t work well with apps that are stored on-site. The problem of software integration is not going to go away any time soon. Integration is the problem of the business, not the SaaS provider, and there are times when the ability to integrate multiple components is very difficult to accomplish.
The Software as a Service pros and cons show that there are many benefits that can be immediately realized. It is cost effective, scalable, and rather adaptive. As long as the disadvantages are also carefully considered, an empowered decision about each potential subscription can be made.