CLOUD COMPUTING AND SAAS: WHY ARE BUSINESSES PIVOTING SOFTWARE-AS-A-SERVICE?
Cloud is one of the hottest buzzwords in the tech-powered 21st century. Amid the coronavirus mayhem of 2020, many organizations turned to cloud platforms and applications as the panacea to the challenge of protecting employees’ health while equipping them with the tools to remain productive in WFH condition.
In business jargon, cloud computing refers to using a vendor’s ready-made remote servers, which are located in a data center, to store, manage, and process data, instead of a local server or a personal computer. So, one can consider it as a type of ‘hardware-as-a-service.’ However, the definition of cloud computing still remains ambiguous. A web developer will describe it in a manner that may not be similar to that of a database admin nor system admin. But one thing is certain: the cloud does offer an array of services that can be accessed by a user anytime and anywhere. All she will need is a reliable internet connection, preferably one with higher bandwidth and low latency.
IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS
As cloud becomes an integral cog to business growth, owing to its flexibility, simplicity and diverse choice, it is being included in many organizational frameworks for the same. There are three major approaches to using cloud-based services.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS)
IaaS offers computational power, storage and networking on demand — thus eliminating the high cost of maintaining, staffing and providing power and cooling for an in-house data center if the service is provided externally. In comparison, PaaS includes development tools, database management, business analytics. This allows developers to focus on software design, development and deployment, without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software, provisioning and hosting. And by including hosted services, SaaS provides businesses with direct access to the applications by employees, partners or clients. Companies use IaaS, PaaS or SaaS as per their requirement.
Since SaaS applications are centrally managed on the cloud, there are no licenses or upgrades to maintain. Also one doesn’t need to download SaaS software on a desktop PC or business network to run – implying lower upfront costs. Companies generally access applications on a subscription basis, making it ideal for business software like email, instant messaging and customer relationship management (CRM).
Benefits of SaaS
Some of the key benefits of SaaS are accessibility, compatibility, and operational management. It also does not cause loss of data due to equipment failure. Moreover, it is very easy to get started with a SaaS application. To illustrate this, consider a scenario where you have to go grocery shopping. This errand includes, driving to a selected or preferred grocery store, walking down aisles to pick groceries, stand in queue for billing and payment and return home. This is equivalent to traditional on-premise services, whereas, in the SaaS model, one can opt for online grocery shopping at the comfort of your home. Some of the popular SaaS examples include, Salesforce, Qwilr, Google G Suite, Workday, Zendesk, Slack, Microsoft Office 365.
SaaS can help users involved in the gig economy by allowing accessibility to sophisticated software, applications, and tools vital to the management of their respective businesses. It can also help large organizations transfer some of the costs of software development and maintenance to third parties and concentrate resources on managing and securing data. It also allows business teams to create virtual collaborative workspaces with their own additional level of access control.
A recent report by SiliconAngle highlights that the leading names like Salesforce, Workday had impressive runs during the pandemic crisis. However, in the second half of February 2021, these vendors didn’t deliver as expected. Amid the new market challenges and waning enthusiasm, SaaS providers need to get innovative to overcome its shortcomings and take steps to restore the user and stockholders’ faith.
Current challenges include heavy reliance on internet, lower degree of control, lack of integration support, vendor lock-in and few others. Addressing these concerns can help in boosting the SaaS adoption market to new heights.