What is Software as a Service? How it is different from everyday software? Are they any good?

The term Cloud Computing is not new. Cloud Computing refers to, using a computer, which is remotely located, may in a different city, state, or it can even be located centrally in a different country. Most of us take the advantages of Cloud Storage services, which is all about storing the files on a remote server so that they can be retrieved from the server, when and where necessary. But, is Cloud Computing, limited only to Cloud Storage!


What is Cloud Computing?

The answer is “NO”. Cloud Computing is a pack of services, apart from mere data storage on a remote server. Due to the availability of a number of cloud storage services nowadays, it is known to almost everybody, but Cloud Computing offers a plethora of other services, and one of them is Software as a Service or SAAS.

In case of cloud computing, you are actually using the resources offered by a remote computer, which is available on the cloud. Depending upon the type of resource, which you are using, various services are available. Most people use the storage services of the remote computer, and you can call it cloud storage, and if you are using the processing power of a remote computer, it can be called cloud processing, which is then evolved into Software as a Service.

What SAAS does?

With the aid of Software as a Service or SAAS, you just give the input from your end, and get the desired outputs also at your end, as well, but the processing is not done on your computer, maybe because you’re not having adequate resources, or you want to get extra software services, which are not available with the software at your end.


For example, if you want to do a very complex task, which cannot be done on your computer due to inadequate processing power of memory, you can use SAAS to do the same task with the help of cloud computing, where the processing power and the memories of those cloud computers are utilized by you, as the processing power and memory of those computers are far more than the computers, which are used by end users. In simple words, as the cloud computing servers used for SAAS are having huge processing powers, and huge memory, a little amount of processing power and memory from that, is assigned to you, which can be sufficient for your task.


The SAAS platforms and their powers

When you are using Software as a Service or SAAS, the computers which you are using, are made powerful, as it will not only handle the tasks, which are given by you, but it also has the obligation to handle a number of other users, who are also using the same service for doing similar tasks. Depending upon the service it is providing, the SAAS platforms should have the adequate processing power, such that the system will not stop working, even under high load.

Why not have a look at the example of a video rendering engine, which is offered through SAAS. It is needless to say, how resource consuming it is, to render a video, and if that task is done with the help of a SAAS service, it might have to handle thousands of similar rendering tasks at the same time, and thus you can imagine how much processing power should be present on the SAAS platforms. The processing power can be pretty close to quantum computers, but the true quantum computers are more powerful than that.

Breaking Software as a Service (SaaS)in Parts

Software for end users

But, what is the significance of the term Software as a Service? Pretty good question! In order to know that, we should have a look at standalone software, which are purchased or are used by normal users for some specific purposes. In case of normal computers, you just have to pay for the software, and you can keep on using the software for an unlimited time or keep on using it with some subscription. The software developer just has to develop the software and should keep on giving you patches and bug fixes from time to time, so that you don’t complain about any malfunction.

Why is it a service?

But in case of SAAS, you are not getting the software as a product at your end. You can log on to the SAAS platform anytime you want, and you can get the advantage of the software as a kind of service. In case of cloud computing, you are using the resources for your tasks, but is not getting hands on the hardware, making it a kind of service. You just have to pay some money as a fee, for using the software, and with that, the SAAS provider will add new features to the platform and will maintain the server, to make the service run smoothly.

How much does it cost to use SAAS?

As far as Software as a Service is concerned, you have to pay a certain amount of money from time to time, which is quite common for all kind of services, which you get. The price of the service is dependent upon the uptime, discussed later in this article, the type of service, which you are getting, and the number of services you are getting from the SAAS platform.

For example, if you are looking for a SAAS platform, which offers simple services like editing documents online, and doing some spreadsheet and accounting tasks online, you do not require very high processing power, and in such cases, the prices will be pretty low. But, if you are doing some resource consuming tasks like video rendering, high-end programming, which require very high processing power and bigger storage, you may need to pay a hefty fee for the services, which are worth paying, though.

If a particular SAAS provider is offering you more than one services, then in such cases, as well the prices will be high, and it does not need any kind of explanation why it is so.


Advantages of software as a service (SaaS)

Let’s have a look at the advantages of SAAS, over standalone software, used regularly.

Hardware updates not mandatory

Purchasing or building a high-end computer is just a matter of one-time investment, so why go for SAAS, which is a recurring expense! Yes, it is a recurring expense. Building a PC can be a one-time expense, but from time to time, it is important that you upgrade your hardware, so that you can keep using new software, without facing any kind of freezing or similar other issues.

Upgrading the hardware is also a matter of investment, which should be taken care of by you. But, if you are using SAAS, you may have to pay a certain amount of money on a regular basis, but it is worth paying that amount, as you will not have to invest in any kind of hardware, nor you will have to worry about software crashes.

No frequent updates

Most people do not want to mess up their systems with frequent updates, for various software, installed on their systems. With SAAS, you will always get the most updated platform, as the updates will be done on the remote end, and you will not have to worry about unstable software updates, which are no less than a nightmare. Latest updates also keep your data secure, which is discussed later on, in this article.

Greater reliability

Most SAAS platforms will give you a very good uptime, which means, you can start working on your computer with the SAAS at any time of the day, keeping away the worries. Various malware or the young members of your family can mess with the systems files or the software and can brick your standalone software, which might make you miss the deadline for the project. But, the SAAS platforms have a responsibility to serve you, under all the circumstances, and you will not face similar issues unless there are some serious troubles at the remote end, which can happen once in a blue moon.

Thus, you will have complete peace of mind, that even if your computer starts freezing, as you can access the SAAS platform from a second computer, which might not be having a lot of resources, as you will be using the resources, which will be provided by the SAAS platform.

Do SAAS platforms always come with a price tag?

We all are using SAAS regularly, knowingly or unknowingly. Oh, but how! You must have tried to convert a PDF file to a to a document file, or an MP3 file to an AAC file, from various websites online. In such cases, you just give the file as input, and you can download the output file to your hard drive, and the processing is done by the remote computer, available on the cloud. In case of conversion of file formats, the processing plays an important role, and in this case, the processing is done by the remote computer on the cloud. This kind of services might be free, but they are still earning money by showing you ads on their website.

There are many, who use Google Docs, or Google Sheets, in order to edit document files, or work with spreadsheets online, respectively. In such cases, as well you just need a browser at your end, and all kind of tasks, which you are doing is done at the remote end, and thus these services can also be considered to be SAAS services.

Great from small firms and start-ups

Nowadays, most of the companies and start-ups are using SAAS to do the tasks, as in such cases, they do not need any kind of high-end hardware to do the tasks, and everything can be managed online, at a comparatively low cost. Apart from that, if you’re an entrepreneur, and is willing to open a start-up, where a lot of task needs to be done online and requires very high processing power for those tasks, it will be a judicious idea to take the advantage of SAAS, as it will keep away all the hassles.

Better security

Security is one of the biggest highlights of a SAAS platform. In case of a standalone computer, the software downloaded from various sources can come with malware or viruses, which has the ability to exploit the system in many ways. It is also easy to track, whatever the user is doing, on a particular software, as most users do not update their systems regularly,  and a personal computer is very easy to hack by numerous ways. But with SAAS, it becomes a nightmare for the hackers to hack the platforms, as they come stronger security, compared to that of personal computers. The security is also upgraded from time to time, making the system free from most vulnerabilities.

Do you need a SAAS solution?

If you are using a personal computer, then in such cases will hardly need SAAS, as you have purchased your computer to do a certain task, which it can handle quite well. But if you are moving to a different domain and think that you need better resources or hardware to do the task, you can always move on to SAAS, if you find that is economical for you, if SAAS platform is having a very good review among the clients.

Hope the small information about SAAS helped you, and if you have any questions in your mind, feel free to comment.