Software as a service, or more commonly known as SaaS for short, is a type of cloud computing and is a method for software delivery in which a third-party company hosts and manages software applications for clients over the internet. The software vendor hosts the software on its servers and manages and maintains the databases and code for the application.
Unlike the on-premise software delivery model, where a company develops and installs an application on proprietary hardware and invests in extensive hardware to meet the usage requirements of the software, software as a service allows companies to outsource an application to a consulting IT firm, which, in turn, will handle all the IT related responsibilities typically required to implement and maintain the software on its own servers, codebases, and databases. The software is generally licensed in such a way that the client must pay a subscription fee to use the service through an internet browser, provided that the software is not free.
There are several advantages that come with software as a service in opposition to in-house software application development. The start-up cost associated with SaaS is minimized because less IT staff are needed to implement the software application. In addition, SaaS facilitates remote application hosting and services to the client, meaning that the client can access the software application virtually whenever it is necessary for the client to do so. Ultimately, clients do not need to purchase any extensive hardware or software to use the software application and only need to pay a subscription and licensing fee if they exist. Customers have no need to install, upgrade, and maintain their own source code because the responsibility is placed on the software vendor’s staff.
Software as a service can be integrated into new software applications simply by using the APIs, or application programming interfaces, and linking the applications. Since the SaaS is more than likely to have a licensed subscription fee, the software is likely to be slightly customizable and flexible for its customers, allowing the customers to modify the features of the software that make it fit for the business’s needs. Additionally, the SaaS manages access to the hosted software solution, which includes the software’s security, availability, and performance. The software vendor manages and maintains the integrity of the software application to safeguard the privacy of its clients from cybercriminals who steal valuable data and sensitive information.
There are a few disadvantages to software as a service. The software requires a steady internet to be available in order to be used. If a client’s internet were to stop working, the SaaS would no longer be available to the user, and data that was being used in the software may be lost. Secondly, with in-house software application development, the company has full access to what features the application will and will not have. On the other side, a hosted software solution controls all aspects of the application and may not be fit for the needs of a business.