SaaS - Software as a service

According to technology analysts Gartner:

... by 2011, one quarter of new business software will be delivered as a service.

They are calling it the SaaS explosion, and in the arena of the technology start-up, a landscape more recently acquainted with implosion than explosion, it is a very big deal indeed.

Software delivered as a service, is on the face of it a very simple concept. Gartner define it is software that is "owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers". Predominantly we are talking about web delivery of functionality that might once have been installed and managed on a local desktop or corporate server.

Despite the burgeoning growth, there exists uncertainty about the approach within traditional IT departments. In actual fact, just a small shift in perspective shows that both the corporate IT department and the SaaS provider are seeking the same things:

  • Consistency of platform - Dealing with multiple operating systems and hardware platforms requires significant effort in a direction that does not of itself contribute much in the way of business value
  • Availability and capacity - Software is not only judged by its function, but also by its ability to perform its function in an acceptable timeframe, and by its ability to continue to do so, month after month.
  • Supportable configurations - a software application, like the erstwhile puppy, isn't just for Christmas. Following the deployment it is vital that requests for assistance or advice are addressed promptly, preferably without the purchase of plane tickets!

So if it isn't obvious, why do business this way?

Quite simply, SaaS is a great equaliser - by sidestepping a multiplicity of corporate standards and infrastructure, and by avoiding the overheads of physical installations in far-flung machine rooms, SaaS allows smaller companies to punch above their weight. Within a SaaS framework, an enterprising minnow can deliver more functionality, more rapidly and with better support to a larger field of clients.

And that can only be a good thing.

 

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Gavin Ritchie
Gavin Ritchie is the IT Director of Longevitas