What is SaaS (Software as a Service)?

Right from 1980s, when the first windows came into existence, whenever we talk about “Software”, we associate it to the software package that comes with an installation CD or can be downloaded from a website. The executable installer installs the software locally on your machine and once installed, can be launched using a “Shortcut” created on your desktop. The concept here was more of a packaged “Product” that user could purchase and use on his system.

This worked well till the time user performed all his work on a single independent system. But as the user became more mobile and connected through various devices like his Smartphone, Laptop, Tablet, etc. it became increasingly difficult for him to access his data on all the devices and at all times. Sometimes the user does not even own the device he is working on. Thus it was time to give a new definition to “Software”.

Using the latest web-technologies and cloud computing, the concept of “Software” has evolved from a “Packaged Product” to a “Service”. The software in this case is hosted by the provider on the web (widely referred as “Cloud”) and a user can purchase licenses for accessing the software.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is a web based service that allows a user to access the software and its functions remotely. Also, because the software is hosted remotely, users don’t need to invest in additional hardware. User can easily access the software using a simple web browser. Few well known examples of SaaS are Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Documents, Dropbox, Apple iCloud, iTunes, Salesforce, etc.

Some of the advantages of SaaS are mentioned below:

  • Software as a Service removes the need for organizations to handle the installation, set-up and often daily upkeep and maintenance of software.
  • Pricing is mostly usage based as it more of a “subscription” to the service rather than a purchase. Thus often cheaper than the traditional model (specially for small enterprises/startups with limited users)
  • Scalability: As the business expands and an organization needs more hardware space, more user subscriptions, it can be accessed on demand without any new installation.
  • Automatic updates: Since the software is hosted on the platform owned by service provider, the latest updated are regularly reflected automatically in the software without the need for user to do anything.
  • No additional hardware costs, as the software is hosted by the provider along with the required space
  • Accessible: User can access its data and software from anywhere, anytime and any device with internet and a web browser available
  • Multiple users can access the data concurrently and easily collaborate with each other. For e.g. Google Spreadsheet

SaaS is a new age software delivery model that has evolved as a result of changing dynamics of the way people and business operate in the new world of interconnectivity.