SaaS - benefitting the end-user like never before

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The concept of Information Technology revolves around the premise of doing something perfectly and doing it fast. For every software that is created, the way it is deployed is of utmost importance. Considering the dynamism associated with the IT world, one has a new buzzword to talk about almost every week. The latest is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Targeted especially at small and mid-sized companies, here is one concept that brings with it a host of benefits.

In a traditional software, one would have to invest in a license to own and use it. In SaaS, the software is downloadable and can be had on a subscription basis. This means you do not invest in additional hardware and disk space as in most cases. It also means that you can tweak your subscription based on your usage. And most importantly, all new updates are available to you as a subscriber instantly.

SaaS has transformed the way traditional IT departments function. For consumers, it has offered the freedom to experience quality software that is both flexible and affordable. According to Gartner research, worldwide SaaS revenue reached $12.1 billion in 2011, which is 20 percent increase when compared to 2010.

Sharon Mertz, Research Director at Gartner, said, “"Increasing familiarity with the model, continued oversight on IT budgets, and the growth of platform as a service (PaaS) developer communities and interest in cloud computing are now driving adoption forward.."

There is little doubt on the host of benefits offered by SaaS to the consumer as well as to the service provider. But let us confine this article to how consumers are benefitted from utilizing SaaS delivery model.

Collaborative Work Management – With SaaS employees can now access the application from remote locations and feed in real-time data. Businesses can mobilize their workforce to a great extent without incurring additional IT expenses. This enables a collaborative work management regardless of employee mobility.

No software installation / upgrades required –Users don’t have to download and install the required software in their local machines and they don’t have to worry about their system configuration or software upgrades. All they need to do is to connect their thin client to the internet, log on to the application and start using the latest version.

Least deployment time – With SaaS, you can make use of even sophisticated tools and applications which can be customized and used in short time frame.

Minimum troubleshooting – Thanks to the service level agreements, the SaaS based applications will now have reduced troubleshooting time. The service provider will have a real-time back up mechanism which mirrors the main server all the time. Once the main server is down, the backup takes up almost instantly, minimizing the application downtime.

Pay-as-you-use - Unlike traditional software where the consumer purchases and installs the complete software package, only to use 10 percent of its features, SaaS offers the flexibility to pay only for the features that they use. The IT budgets can now be allocated for other purposes.

The benefits offered by SaaS to service providers will be discussed in another article.