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Encyclopedia > Software as a Service

Software as a service (SaaS) is a model of software delivery where the software company provides maintenance, daily technical operation, and support for the software provided to their client. SaaS is a model of software delivery rather than a market segment; it assumes the software is delivered over the internet. Software can be delivered using this method to any market segment, from home consumers to corporations. // General structure Software deployment is all of the activities that make a software system available for use. ...

Contents

Key characteristics of software delivered by SaaS

The key characteristics of SaaS software, according to IDC, include[1]: IDC Analyze the Future-logo. ...

  • network-based access to, and management of, commercially available (i.e., not custom) software
  • activities that are managed from central locations rather than at each customer's site, enabling customers to access applications remotely via the Web
  • application delivery that typically is closer to a one-to-many model (single instance, multi-tenant architecture) than to a one-to-one model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics

Graphic representation of the world wide web around Wikipedia The World Wide Web (WWW, or simply Web) is an information space in which the items of interest, referred to as resources, are identified by global identifiers called Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI). ...

Types of SaaS providers

There are two types of SaaS providers. The first has often been referred to as an Application service provider (ASP) where a customer purchases and brings to a hosting company a copy of software, or the hosting company offers widely available software for use by customers, such as hosting Microsoft Office and making that available across the web to customers who pay a fee per month for access to the software. The second type of SaaS provider offers what is often called software on-demand, where a company offers to customers software specifically built for one-to-many hosting. This means that one copy of the software is installed for use by many companies who access the software across the web. An application service provider (ASP) is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network. ... Microsoft Office is a suite of productivity programs created or purchased by Microsoft and developed for Microsoft Windows, and Apple Computers Mac OS and Mac OS X operating systems. ...


In the first type of provider, a licensing fee and a monthly fee are separate and are paid to the maker of the software and to the hoster of the software. With the second type of hosting there is no division between licensing and hosting fees and traditionally there is little or no customization of software for customers. With mature SaaS providers on-demand solutions can be highly customized. Two such examples of working vendors delivering SaaS are; Qualys.com and Salesforce.com.


SaaS enablement

Certain vendors have created tools which provide ISVs the ability to convert an existing web/web service or wap-based products into a SaaS application, or that reduce the amount of time and effort required to create a SaaS application from scratch. An Independent Software Vendor (ISV) is a business term for companies specializing in making or selling software, usually for niche markets. ...


These tools can reduce time to market, engineering cost and effort involved in converting a traditionally-delivered software product into an SaaS solution, or in building and deploying a new solution as a SaaS solution. Examples of enablement components range from pieces of software the provide functionality such as user management, to full-fledged SaaS platform products that provide a technology stack for deploying a SaaS application.[2] A SaaS Platform is a computer program or collection of more than one computer program that acts as a host to applications that reside on it. ...


SaaS maturity model

Microsoft outlines 4 levels of maturity for SaaS solutions[3].


The first level of maturity is similar to the traditional application service provider (ASP) model of software delivery, dating back to the 1990s. At this level, each customer has its own customized version of the hosted application, and runs its own instance of the application on the host's servers.


At the second level of maturity, the vendor hosts a separate instance of the application for each customer (or tenant). Whereas in the first level each instance is individually customized for the tenant, at this level, all instances use the same code implementation, and the vendor meets customers' needs by providing detailed configuration options that allow the customer to change how the application looks and behaves to its users.


At the third level of maturity, the vendor runs a single instance that serves every customer, with configurable metadata providing a unique user experience and feature set for each one. Authorization and security policies ensure that each customer's data is kept separate from that of other customers; and, from the end user's perspective, there is no indication that the application instance is being shared among multiple tenants.


At the fourth and final level of maturity, the vendor hosts multiple customers on a load-balanced farm of identical instances, with each customer's data kept separate, and with configurable metadata providing a unique user experience and feature set for each customer. A SaaS IV system is scalable to an arbitrarily large number of customers, because the number of servers and instances on the back end can be increased or decreased as necessary to match demand, without requiring additional re-architecting of the application, and changes or fixes can be rolled out to thousands of tenants as easily as a single tenant.


On-demand open source software

On-demand open source offers clients software as a service where the application code is used under GPL or LGPL licenses. Companies that offer traditional software on-demand, either build the application from the ground-up or take an existing application and host it on their own servers. In both these scenarios, the application code is proprietary and not available to the end customer.


On-demand open source service providers offer open source applications as a service. These companies integrate, host, monitor, update and support the Open Source applications for their clients. Since the core open source is free and no licensing fees are included in the service price, the cost is often more economical to small and mid-sized companies. A big advantage of on-demand open source is that customers are not locked in to their service provider - they can access their data and download the applications if they are not satisfied with the service being offered.


ASP versus SaaS

The reason for moving away from the term ASP or application service provider is that the ASP generation was merely traditional client-server applications with HTML frontends added as an afterthought. These applications were hosted by third-parties who ordinarily did not have application expertise, but were only managing servers. Because the applications were not written as net-native applications, performance was poor and application updates were no better than self managed applications. By comparison, current net-native SaaS applications or independent portions are updated regularly, many daily. An application service provider (ASP) is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network. ... Client/Server is a network application architecture which separates the client (usually the graphical user interface) from the server. ... HTML, short for HyperText Markup Language, is the predominant markup language for the creation of web pages. ... In their most general meanings, the terms front end and back end refer to the initial and the end stages of a process flow. ...


This gradual shift in the terminologies also is a direct reflection of the change in the business requirements demanded by clients. The focus in SaaS is more on what the customer wants rather than what the vendor could give as was the case in an ASP.


Early SaaS approaches were application service providers (ASPs) who ran a turnkey application on behalf of their clients. But ASPs generally did not build the application themselves; rather, they took an off-the-shelf application (such as a messaging platform, an enterprise requirements planning tool, or a salesforce automation package) and ran it for customers. An application service provider (ASP) is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network. ...


Drivers for SaaS adoption

The traditional rationale for outsourcing of IT systems is that by applying economies of scale to the operation of applications, a service provider can offer better, cheaper, more reliable applications than companies can themselves. The use of SaaS-based applications has grown dramatically, as reported by many of the analyst firms that cover the sector. But it’s only in recent years that SaaS has truly flourished. Several important changes to the way we work have made this rapid acceptance possible.

  • Everyone has a computer: Most information workers have access to a computer and are familiar with conventions from mouse usage to web interfaces. As a result, the learning curve for new, external applications is lower and less hand-holding by internal IT is needed.
  • Computing itself is a commodity: In the past, corporate mainframes were jealously guarded as strategic advantages. More recently, the applications were viewed as strategic. Today, people know it’s the business processes and the data itself—customer records, workflows, and pricing information—that matters. Computing and application licenses are cost centers, and as such, they’re suitable for cost reduction and outsourcing. The adoption of SaaS could also drive Internet-scale to become a commodity.[4]
  • Applications are standardized: With some notable, industry-specific exceptions, most people spend most of their time using standardized applications. An expense reporting page, an applicant screening tool, a spreadsheet, or an e-mail system are all sufficiently ubiquitous and well understood that most users can switch from one system to another easily. This is evident from the number of web-based calendaring, spreadsheet, and e-mail systems that have emerged in recent years.
  • Parametric applications are usable: In older applications, the only way to change a workflow was to modify the code. But in more recent applications—particularly web-based ones—significantly new applications can be created from parameters and macros. This allows organizations to create many different kinds of business logic atop a common application platform. Many SaaS providers allow a wide range of customization within a basic set of functions.
  • A specialized software provider can target a global market: A company that made software for human resource management at boutique hotels might once have had a hard time finding enough of a market to sell its applications. But a hosted application can instantly reach the entire market, making specialization within a vertical not only possible, but preferable. This in turn means that SaaS providers can often deliver products that meet their markets’ needs more closely than traditional “shrinkwrap” vendors could.
  • Web systems are reliable enough: Despite sporadic outages and slow-downs, most people are willing to use the public Internet, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol and the TCP/IP stack to deliver business functions to end users.
  • Security is sufficiently well trusted and transparent: With the broad adoption of SSL organizations have a way of reaching their applications without the complexity and burden of end-user configurations or VPNs.
  • Availability of enablement technology: According to IDC[1], organizations developing enablement technology that allow other vendors to quickly build SaaS applications will be important in driving adoption. Because of SaaS' relative infancy, many companies have either built enablement tools or platforms or are in the process of engineering enablement tools or platforms. A Saugatuck study shows that the industry will most likely converge to three or four enablers that will act as SaaS Integration Platforms (SIPs)[5].
  • Wide Area Network's bandwidth has grown drastically following the Moore's Law (more than 100% increase each 24 months) and is about to reach slow local networks bandwidths. Added to network quality of service improvement this has driven people and companies to trustfully access remote locations and applications with low latencies and acceptable speeds.

Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS, EHRMS), Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), HR Technology or also called HR modules, shape an intersection in between human resource management (HRM) and information technology. ...

Factors mitigating against SaaS adoption

SaaS is conceptually similar to the original mainframe computing model in which control was centralized, user privacy was minimal and the flexibility allowed to the individual user was limited. Much of the explosive success of the PC after its introduction in the late 1970s and early 1980s was due to the power it gave to individual users. Many consumers may feel that in SaaS the gradual erosion of their privacy and control has reached an unacceptable limit.[citation needed] Another mitigating factor is need for disconnected use. Many users, such as traveling salespeople, need access to data while offline. Although some vendors provide offline modes that synchronize data, solutions are not optimal and not all vendors provide such functionality.


See also

An application service provider (ASP) is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network. ... A SaaS Platform is a computer program or collection of more than one computer program that acts as a host to applications that reside on it. ... A software appliance combines a software application and a streamlined version of system software (OS, file system, application server, etc. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... // Solutions Provider A Solutions Provider is any company or people that provides solutions associated with a product or a final service to the client. ... A supply chain, logistics network, or supply network is a coordinated system of organizations, people, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service in physical or virtual manner from supplier to customer. ...

References

  1. ^ a b Traudt, Erin; Amy Konary (June 2005). 2005 Software as a Service Taxonomy and Research Guide 7. IDC. Retrieved on 2006-08-25.
  2. ^ Schuller, Sinclair (March 2007). Repealing the SaaS Tax. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
  3. ^ Architecture strategies for catching the long tail (April 2006). Retrieved on 2006-04-01.
  4. ^ http://www.saasblogs.com/2006/09/26/scale-as-a-commodity-2/ SaaSBlogs: Scale as a Commodity
  5. ^ SaaS 2.0: Saugatuck Study Shows Rapid SaaS Evolution to Business Platforms (April 2006). Retrieved on 2006-09-01.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Software as a Service - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1155 words)
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a model of software delivery where the software company provides maintenance, daily technical operation, and support for the software provided to their client.
The reason for moving away from the term ASP or Application service provider is that the ASP generation was merely traditional client-server applications with HTML frontends added as an afterthought.
Early SaaS approaches were application service providers (ASPs) who ran a turnkey application on behalf of their clients.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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