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What Does a SaaS Provider Do?

David Millier

What_Does_a_SaaS_Provider_Do.jpgCloud computing has given rise to the software as a service (SaaS) model. Under SaaS, a business no longer needs to install software on their own hardware; instead, the application is hosted by the provider and is accessed over the internet. This has plenty of advantages, including the elimination of expenses related to acquiring, maintaining, and providing hardware for employees, and software licensing and installation support. Understanding what the SaaS provider does makes the value of SaaS even more apparent.

The SaaS Provider

The provider is a third-party that hosts applications, which are then accessed by subscribers using the internet. Although the provider is not always the developer of the software, this can be the case. For example, Adobe develops and acts as a provider for its Creative Suite of software products. Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce are also SaaS providers. SaaS providers also manage subscription services for the applications.

The Role of the Provider

The major role of the provider is to keep the software available for users to access. This means maintaining the hosting site and ensuring that there is enough capacity to handle the user load. A provider that fails to keep up will end up with software that crashes or fails to load, leaving users unable to perform essential tasks.

The provider also keeps the software up-to-date. In the past, it was up to individual users to download and implement “patches” that were released for applications they were running. With SaaS, the provider automatically updates the program, which ensures that everyone is running the latest, greatest version. This means no more worrying about compatibility since everyone will be creating and viewing documents in the same version. It also means security updates can be applied to all systems immediately, rather than relying on individual users to ensure their security patches are up-to-date—which can lead to vulnerability for an entire organization. This also reduces the workload for your IT department, since they no longer need to worry about upgrading software on individual machines.

Working with the Provider

Businesses may have reservations about using SaaS; the model relies heavily on the provider to ensure security of sensitive business data and to provide reliable access to the software. Service and software options are also largely in the SaaS provider’s hands; if the provider decides to discontinue a certain program or introduces a new pricing model, users can be negatively impacted.

Businesses should attend to their service-level agreement with their provider to ensure the provider is meeting their end of the bargain. Most SLAs include clauses that explicitly state you own your data and that you have the right to export it should you terminate your subscription. Most SaaS providers prepay their data hosting centers as a safeguard for client data; in the event that your provider goes out of business, you can still access your data.

Potential Complications

Aside from the possibility of your provider going out of business, SaaS does come with a few drawbacks. For one thing, using the software is reliant on having an internet connection. While you might be able to access a program on your smartphone, if you’re in the middle of nowhere with a poor signal, you’re going to have trouble accessing the service. Another complication can be the operating system you’re using. While most businesses run on a Windows platform, alternatives like Linux and Mac are becoming more and more common.

Luckily, providers are addressing concerns like these. Many have integrated offline functionality for their applications so that you can access the service anywhere; once you’re back online, the data will sync. And more and more providers are offering support for a variety of operating systems in response to client demand.

A Risk-Based Approach  to Vulnerability Remediation

 

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Topics: SaaS

What Is Software as a Service?

David Millier

What_Is_Software_as_a_Service.jpgAs the world of technology evolves, so too must the world of business. Computers revolutionized the marketplace when they arrived on the scene, as did the internet, and software has always been attached to these technologies. Software as a service (SaaS) is the natural evolution of the software business and is making the software market more dependable and affordable than ever.

What Exactly Is SaaS?

Software as a service is a subscription-based model for distributing software applications and is part of the network of cloud-computed products, which are on-demand resources shared through the internet. The types of applications that are provided by SaaS include IT security management, messaging software, payroll processing software, antivirus software, customer relation management, accounting software, and just about any other business need you can imagine. SaaS hosts its services centrally, and nothing more than a web browser is needed to access them. By hosting their services exclusively online, companies can use business applications at a much more affordable price, as all hardware and software maintenance is outsourced to the provider. Software as a service has gained a great deal of popularity in recent years and is used by most enterprise companies.

A Brief History of SaaS

Software as a service hasn’t always existed the way it does today. Centralized hosting of business services began in the 1960s with IBM. They offered storage space and computing power to banks and other large organizations, as well as IT support. This service evolved as computer technology did. Application Service Providers (ASP) were the next step. ASPs gained popularity in the 1990s with the proliferation of the internet and hosted business applications on a central server. They didn’t develop software, however; they simply distributed it through a central location to their clients. SaaS improved upon the model established by ASPs.

Why Use SaaS and Not ASP?

As mentioned, most ASPs simply host the software of other vendors, while SaaS providers typically develop and manage their own software, thus creating a convenient all-in-one transaction. Many ASPs require you to install software on your personal workstation, while software as a service is internet-based and only requires a browser to access. Furthermore, ASPs generally require more than one application per business, while SaaS employs multi-tenant architecture in their programming, so more than one business can be served by the same application.

Software as a service can be distributed to your business instantaneously, and has much lower setup costs than on-site software applications. Due to centralized hosting and continuous internet connection, application updates can happen easily and frequently, and are distributed to all clients evenly.

The Potential of Software as a Service

Much like social media, many SaaS applications offer features that allow users to collaborate on ideas and share information with each other. With this type of open communication, project management across companies is easier than ever, and different departments can interact with ease. This type of collaboration is only made possible by the centralized hosting of software as a service.

The ease of software as a service is helping to standardize webpage technologies, and as a result, the practice of web development is increasing in popularity. This is resulting in the development of even more affordable and user-friendly SaaS application frameworks. This ease of use has the potential to revolutionize social services. Engineering, health care, education, and political institutions can all benefit from the proliferation of software as a service, and can become more efficient for those who utilize and work in those industries.

 A Risk-Based Approach  to Vulnerability Remediation

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Topics: SaaS, Software as a Service