What is Software as a Service (SaaS) ?

SaaS stands for software as a service. Software as a service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the Internet. SaaS is one of three main categories of cloud computing, alongside infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS).

The pros and cons of Software as a Service

SaaS is a natural fit for businesses intent on slashing IT responsibilities and costs. On average, firms that transition to Software as a Service subscriptions from capital-heavy, on-premise infrastructure installation, maintenance and upgrades enjoy an IT spending reduction of more than 15 percent, according to data collected by Computer World.

SaaS is particularly well suited for small businesses. Instead of investing in additional in-house server capacity and software licenses, companies simply can adjust their Software as a Service subscription on a monthly basis, scaling consumption requirements up and down based on project demands and other variables. There’s also an increase in human bandwidth: In-house IT staffers are liberated from the tasks associated with on-premise hardware and software, allowing them to tackle projects more vital to the company’s future growth. And because the IT infrastructure resides in the service provider’s data center, your organization can get back up and running immediately in the event of a service outage or more dramatic disruption.

Nothing is perfect, of course, and SaaS is no exception. Companies that adopt multiple Software as a Service applications or plan to connect hosted software with existing on-premise apps may encounter software integration headaches along the way. Security is another common concern for businesses mulling SaaS options: Whenever sensitive company data and business processes are entrusted to a third-party service provider, issues such as identity and access management must be addressed. Businesses must also take into account the government compliance regulations inherent to storing customer data in a remote data center.

Here is some popular SaaS provider.

1. Salesforce.com

The Salesforce cloud is an on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) suite offering applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support.

2. Google Apps

Google Apps is a Web-based and collaborative Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that customizes the proprietary Google platform and brand for businesses of all sizes, including large enterprises. Google Apps facilitates the provisioning of Google applications and user/enterprise management tools, including Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Videos and Google Cloud Connect.

3. Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 (often called Microsoft 365 or Office 365) is a Web-based version of Microsoft’s Office suite of enterprise-grade productivity applications. Office 365 is delivered to users through the cloud and includes Exchange Online for email, SharePoint Online for collaboration, Lync Online for unified communications, and a suite of Office Web Apps, Web-based versions of the traditional Microsoft Office suite of applications.

4. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments, on a paid subscription basis. The technology allows subscribers to have at their disposal a virtual cluster of computers, available all the time, through the Internet.

5. DocuSign

DocuSign is a company based in San Francisco, US that provides electronic signature technology and digital transaction management services for facilitating electronic exchanges of signed documents. DocuSign provides authentication services, user identity management and workflow automation.

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