If you've been shopping for software, you've probably heard people talking about "software as a service" or "SaaS".
SaaS has become a popular model for software delivery, with companies like Adobe and Microsoft moving from traditional software to a SaaS model.
So you may be wondering what SaaS is, and what it can do for you.
In this post, you'll see how SaaS is different from traditional software and learn about the advantages of software as a service.
What is software as a service (SaaS)?
Software as a service is known by many names -- SaaS, on-demand software, web-based software, subscription-based software, or hosted software.
Whatever you call it, SaaS allows you to access the software remotely over the internet. You pay an annual or monthly subscription fee to access the software, and the provider takes care of hosting, maintenance, security, and updates.
The difference between SaaS and traditional software
One way to understand the difference between SaaS and traditional software is to think about the difference between a gym membership and a home gym.
With a gym membership (like SaaS), you'll pay a one-time fee to join along with a monthly or annual membership fee. Your membership gets you instant access to a gym full of equipment anytime you want to use it. If something needs fixing or replacing, the gym takes care of it at no additional cost.
With a home gym (like traditional software), you'll spend a lot of time and money buying and setting up your equipment. And if you want a new cardio machine or set of weights, you'll have to buy it at an additional cost.
Examples of SaaS
You've probably used SaaS before, even if you didn't call it by that name. Here are some examples of common SaaS applications:
- Google apps
All of these programs can be accessed over the internet by logging into your account with your web browser.
What are the advantages of SaaS?
Lower cost of ownership
Unlike traditional software, you pay for SaaS with a monthly or annual subscription fee. Because there is no software or hardware to buy, install, maintain, and update, you'll pay less overall for the full use of the software.
The costs of maintenance and updates are shared among all customers that use the software, so providers are able to keep costs low.
Ease of use
One of the main reasons companies choose SaaS, aside from the lower cost of ownership, is that it's much easier to get up and running.
With SaaS, there's no software or hardware to install and configure -- all you need is an internet connection.
Customization and flexibility
The way SaaS applications are structured makes them surprisingly flexible. Each customer can have their own settings without affecting the common infrastructure. You're able to customize the look and feel of your dashboards, data inputs, notifications, and reports.
SaaS is updated much more frequently than traditional software. Providers perform maintenance and deploy updates to all customers at the same time, so you'll always have access to the newest version without the cost of buying or installing updates.
As an added benefit, providers are able to spend more time innovating and improving their software and less time maintaining old versions of the program.
Most SaaS applications are designed to play nicely with the other tools you use every day. This eliminates a lot of the work that goes with exporting data from one system to another.
The bottom line
Many companies are choosing SaaS over traditional software for its lower cost, flexibility, and ease of use. To learn more about which type of software is right for you, download our free guide: