Software as a Service (SaaS) white paper

MBM Software delivers a variety of products, and proudly does so using the Software As A Service (SaaS, pronounced sæs or sɑs) paradigm. We collected some of the most frequently asked questions ranging from what is SaaS and to how does it differ from traditional software development methods. As we offer the answers to these questions, we hope to provide a brief introduction to SaaS.

1. What Is SaaS?

SaaS is a relatively new software delivery solution which provides users access to data via the web. Unlike the traditional on-premises software approach, in this model a vendor hosts and maintains servers, databases, and code making up the software. As companies no longer invest in expensive hardware, focus is shifted to outsourcing IT needs to those vendors responsible for software and hardware alike.

In addition to web-based access to application and data, SaaS has a different approach on pricing its service. While on-premises software is purchased via a software license and yearly maintenance and support fees, SaaS allows buyers to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee that covers the software license and other service fees. With SaaS, buyers spread the cost of over time, and frequently SaaS reduces the cost of software.

2. Brief SaaS history

SaaS is based on ideas of software as a public service, first introduced at MIT in 1961 by a John McCarthy, a famous computer scientist. At their core, these ideas proposed sharing computer resources, including software applications. Only recently, as web-based technology matured, these ideas resurfaced and gained traction with vendors and clients alike.

While SaaS was becoming popular as a concept, enterprise software was slow to adopt it. This changed dramatically for the past seven years, as SaaS companies grew their revenue and customer base as a result of the novel pricing model. With recent developments and innovation in user interface (UI), buyers expect affordable, easy to understand web applications.

3. Is SaaS Software Customizable?

In its early stages, SaaS applications offered little customization. Every customer had the same software, and had to adapt the way they did business to how an application worked. Fortunately, today’s SaaS applications offer a high level of customization, allowing buyers to adapt the software to business model.

Typical customization in a SaaS application involves both its user interface and the fields presented to a user. A buyer may add, remove, or change the fields in a form to capture the particular aspects of its business. It is also a common practice to turn on or off certain software features. While customization of SaaS application isn’t as versatile as that of on-premises alternative, SaaS vendors are investing time and effort to reduce this gap.

4. Data Safety in SaaS Application

Because of its web-based nature, SaaS vendors need to address data security with great consideration. Software buyers who put their trust in a SaaS application resposible for highly sensitive data such as payroll, must know SaaS vendors deliver solutions that implement highest level of security. As industries like banking offer online access to customer information, the idea of lack of security in SaaS applications is becoming less of a concern for most buyers.